Fitness is one of the most in-demand career fields. It is estimated that personal training will have a 10% annual growth over the next 10 years. Even though people are living longer now more than ever, there is still a health crisis in America. Trusted fitness experts can not only make major impacts to the rising percentage of obesity, but also help reduce the number of other metabolic diseases.
As a fitness professional, what are the career paths one can take to help reduce the health crisis? Once someone becomes nationally certified, what avenues do they have to earn income and make an impact in their respected space? There are several career paths outside of the traditional ones (big gym, training in homes, renting space from another fitness trainer or opening up one’s own fitness studio), including these other avenues:
1. Medical fitness
2. Partnering with a physical therapist
3. Corporate fitness
4. Health or P.E. teacher
5. Exercise physiologist
Medical fitness is working closely with allied health professionals to ensure that their patients receive safe exercise programming. With more and more people being becoming “sick” each year, the need for qualified fitness professionals (known as medical fitness specialists) to help these people has risen.
While the definition of a medical fitness specialist is still being determined, the need for fitness professionals to have proficiency in things such as active aging, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cancer and senior fitness is important. Organizations such as The Functional Aging Institute, MedFit Network and the Medical Fitness Organization are great places to investigate to determine if medical fitness is a good fit for any fitness professional.
Partnering with a Physical Therapist
The standard number of physical therapy visits by most in health care is very limited and not enough to help those with injuries. Physical therapists need trusted professionals that they can refer to their patients. As a fitness professional, this partnership would afford you the opportunity to be a part of their rehab team. If one’s interest is in post rehabilitation or corrective exercise, then this career path could be it.
Most physical therapists either have fitness professional as full-time employees or they subcontract with them. In essence, a fitness professional could have their own business within a business without the overhead expenses.
Most corporations understand the importance of their employees remaining healthy. If for no other reason, it helps to keep them working and keep the business running. What a better way to ensure this than by having fitness and wellness options at the place of employment. The corporations are not experts in health and fitness so that is where a knowledgeable fitness professional comes into the picture.
In this role as a corporate fitness specialist, one would have the opportunity to design not only fitness, but just as importantly, wellness components, too. Some of the traditional wellness components include:
• Ongoing smoking cessation programs
• Ongoing nutrition programs
• Group exercise classes
• Ergonomics and proper desk and chair office space consultations
While larger corporations already have corporate fitness programs, most startup companies do not. If this is an interest, one should contact local startup companies and offer to meet with them to discuss starting a corporate wellness program. It does not have to start with every program mentioned above. It can start with teaching a stretching and mobility class twice each week. After a foundation has been built, then the full-fledge wellness program can be built.
Health or P.E. Teacher
The idea of cutting the funding for elementary school fitness programs was just plain absurd. Obesity continues to be on the rise for young adolescents. However, a simple solution is to start and keep them moving at an early age. Also, teaching them what real food is and the importance of eating balanced meals needs to start at an early age as well.
As a fitness professional, one can go into the school environment where there is no physical education teacher. The school system might have a small budget set aside for someone who can come to their schools several times each week to teach the kids about wellness and fitness in a fun and engaging environment.
The demand for fitness is not going anywhere. Our fact-paced, sedentary environment will continue to produce more diseased and sick people. Fitness professionals have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of people. The environment one chooses to do this in does not have to be the traditional route. It can be in medical fitness or working with a physical therapist. It could also be in corporate fitness or the primary/secondary school system as physical education coach. The choice truly belongs to the fitness professional and his/her interests.