Note that each module in the Qualification - Diploma In Fitness Science is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
The fitness industry has emerged from almost nothing a few decades ago, to become a significant and rapidly changing field in today's world.
Fitness Leaders are the coal face workers of the industry. They provide guidance to clients on development and maintenance of fitness (commonly dealing with a class or informal group using a gym). Fitness leaders often get very low rates of pay, and have relatively poor job security; but for many in this industry, this can be a starting point.
Personal Trainers provide personal guidance on fitness (dealing with one individual only in a session). Personal trainers usually earn a lot more than fitness leaders, but they are commonly self employed, and need good business and marketing skills as well as expertise in fitness if they are to be successful.
Life Coaches provide guidance on many different things that affect wellbeing. This may include fitness, career, money, general health, relationships etc. They also are commonly self employed, and require skills that are broader and deeper than a fitness leader
Fitness professionals find employment in small and large organisations, government and private enterprise, both self employed contractors and employed by others.
They may be employed in any of the following:
- Fitness leaders or instructors in Gymnasiums, health clubs or Leisure Centres
- Personal Trainers
- Life Coaches
- Sports Coaches
- Fitness Teacher or Specialist Instructor
- Facility managers
- Marketing (eg. Fitness or Sports equipment, Sales, PR, Advertising, etc)
- Event Managers
Fitness jobs range from relatively low paid part time or casual positions to highly paid professional careers that require a great deal of expertise and training.
Risks and challenges>
The fitness industry is highly competitive so can be challenging to find work/clients. You will need to develop skills to make you stand out from the rest - something that makes you unique, and inspires people to train with you over other trainers.
Many people choose this profession believing it to be relatively healthy and stress free; but in reality, if you run your own business or work in a position of responsibility in any industry, there will always be times of stress.
Fitness professionals in theory should be more conscious of how to manage their own wellbeing, but it is an unavoidable occupational hazard that you will tend to attract clients with problems and helping them deal with those problems will place unavoidable pressure upon anyone who cares. You need to care in order to do a good job; but if you care too much, your own wellbeing suffers and in turn your capacity to do the job suffers.
Also keep in mind the nature of your work – the majority of the day will be spent in fitness training, so you will need to be cautious of how much of the activity you do yourself, so as not to wear yourself out too much.
How to become a Fitness Professional
People get a start in this profession by both:
- Undertaking some study
- Experience (as an amateur or professional athlete)
This is an industry where ongoing professional development is essential. If you want a secure future in the fitness industry; you need to be committed to keep learning, attending seminars, workshops, courses, being involved with professional bodies and overall keeping abreast of new developments.
Fitness leaders are often the lowest paid employees in this industry; and the entry level courses which fitness leaders take are often relatively basic.
There are lots of opportunities to advance to more challenging and better paid positions; but to give yourself the best chance of advancement, you need to be thinking well beyond doing a minimum entry level qualification.
Commonly fitness professionals find the best opportunity to advance will come from either:
- Starting their own business
- Moving into Management or Marketing
- Education: Teaching others to be instructors
You may need to consider joining a fitness association. There are many different bodies that are relevant to fitness industry, some amateur, some professional; some are national and others are international.
Professional Indemnity Insurance is important if you are giving advice to people on fitness. Most insurance companies will provide cover to people who have undertaken a credible course that is substantial in its content. (Note: The ACS Fitness Leader certificate and more advanced courses have been accepted for insurance in the past).
Other insurances may also be needed; particularly if you plan to be self employed. Talk with an insurance expert before establishing a business. Discuss insurance cover before accepting employment with anyone else.
Other related jobs
- Nutritional counselor
- Fitness or Health Centre Manager
- Weight Loss Consultant
- Life Coach
- Personal Trainer
Working as a Fitness or Health Centre Manager
If you enjoy sports and fitness, have managerial skills and like a challenge, working as a fitness or health centre manager may be for you.
Fitness or Health Centre Managers manage sports or leisure facilities. Fitness or health centre managers oversee the day-to-day operations of the facility. They are responsible for a broad range of operations, including managing staff, managing equipment, membership sales, marketing, providing fitness instruction, health and safety, and financial.
Different facilities will have different requirements of their managers. Larger organisations may have a team of managers that each specialise in a particular area, whereas managers of smaller organisations may manage all areas.
Some tasks a fitness or health centre manager may do include:
- Developing and implementing programmes to fulfill clients needs and generate revenue
- Manage marketing strategies
- Ensure the profitability of the centre
- Recruit, train, and manage staff ; including they have relevant and up to date qualifications/training
- Ensure health and safety standards are met
- Prepare staff rosters and work schedules
- Manage equipment ; ensuring they are in good condition, up to date and functioning
- Customer service
- May provide fitness instruction to clients
- Managing complaints and incidents
- Maintaining stock records, purchasing equipment and supplies as required
- Provide leadership
- Budgeting, managing cash and other financial management.
The health, fitness and leisure industry is dynamic and rapidly growing. There is an increasing number of fitness instructors and facilities being opened – therefore there is an increasing demand for managers. A health or fitness centre manager may work in:
- Swimming pools
- Gyms and fitness centres
- Spa, sauna or therapy centres
- Sports halls or sports
- Community sports centres
- Recreational facilities
- Hotel leisure centres
- School and University fitness centres
- Sports clubs
- Holiday resorts
Salaries will vary depending on experience and the types of employment and facility.
Risks and challenges
Managing a health and fitness centre can include unsocial hours, such as evenings, weekends and public holidays.
Managing an entire facility can be stressful at times. There will be significant responsibility to ensure the profitability of the centre, as well as general day to day stresses of managing a business.
As a manager you may also need to spend time in an office, which may be challenging for a fitness professional who prefers to be active.
A health and fitness manager will need to ensure they are up to date with relevant legislation, for example health and safety best practices, staff qualification requirements, first aid requirements, employment regulations etc.
How to become a Health or Fitness Centre Manager
Health or Fitness Centre Managers will generally come to the role from one of two pathways.
- They may begin by obtaining skills in fitness, sports, physical education or a related discipline, then after experience they develop their career into a more managerial role; or
- They may begin by studying management, gain experience as a manager in another field, then move into the fitness industry.
Depending on their specific role, the manager may or may not be actively training clients. If they are, they will need to have relevant fitness qualifications. If the manager is more involved in overseeing the business operations, rather than actively training the clients they may not need fitness qualifications, however knowledge of the fitness industry (even if just through personal experience) is important. In either scenario, the manager will need to make sure they are up to date with their first aid and CPR training.
Basic business, marketing, and management skills will also be valuable.
To be a successful manager, certain personal attributes will need to be developed, including good communication skills, the ability to motivate staff (and clients), time management skills and organisational skills.