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Fitness Trainer and Aerobics Instructor Job Description, Career as a Fitness Trainer and Aerobics Instructor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—high school; onthe-job training; certification in some states; college degree for fitness directors

Salary: Median—$12.25 per hour

Employment Outlook: Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

The growth in exercise programs in the United States has created a strong demand for instructors in recreational sports and fitness activities. Aerobics, running, weight lifting, body conditioning, and competitive sports are only some of the activities that have gained enormous popularity. Many people seek an expert to help them develop and maintain an exercise program. Fitness and aerobics instructors may work for health or exercise clubs, sports training facilities, or gyms. Some work in the employee fitness center of a large company. Others are self-employed and may offer training at their clients' homes.

Many instructors have a specialty, such as tennis or bodybuilding, while others offer a wide range of fitness-related assistance. An instructor may work with groups, leading exercise routines or sports activities, or give highly personalized training and assistance to one client at a time.

Education and Training Requirements

Requirements vary widely according to the type of fitness instruction involved and the setting in which it takes place. A high school diploma is usually required, and instructors generally are trained on the job. However, many instructors are college educated, holding degrees in physical education, recreation, or a more specialized field. Some states may require trainer certification.

Fitness instructors should be healthy and fit. They must be patient and able to communicate ideas and information effectively.

Getting the Job

Prospective aerobics instructors and fitness trainers can enter the field by applying to a local health club, recreation center, or adult education program. High school and college placement offices may have notices about these positions on file.

Fitness trainers design personalized training programs that suit their clients' needs and physical abilities. Instructors often work with clients for a set amount of time or until they are able to complete the exercises safely on their own. (© Tom and Dee Ann McCarthy/Corbis.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Instructors who have established a substantial clientele often open their own clubs or gyms. They may also become program managers within a larger operation. Another way to advance is to become a corporate fitness director who sets up exercise and wellness programs for employees of large companies. Further education may be required for such a position.

The outlook for fitness instructors is expected to grow faster than the average through the year 2014 because of the heightened interest in exercise as a form of entertainment. Gyms, health clubs, and exercise salons are increasing in number. In addition, both large and small corporations are continuing to provide exercise and sports facilities for their employees. Companies that furnish businesses with exercise training programs and trainers, such as health program packaging firms, will also provide employment openings.

Working Conditions

Instructors work in a number of different settings, from major corporate complexes to small dance studios. Early morning, evening, and weekend work is frequently required, since most clients exercise before or after work or during their leisure time.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary widely according to the instructors' work setting, clients, reputation, and type and level of expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of fitness trainers in 2004 was $12.25 per hour.

Where to Go for More Information

Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
15250 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 200
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(877) 968-7263

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance
1900 Association Dr.
Reston, VA 20191-1598
(800) 213-7193

American Fitness Professionals and Associates
P.O. Box 214
Ship Bottom, NJ 08008
(609) 978-7583

Instructors who work for corporations usually receive paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans. Instructors who work for exercise clubs may receive paid holidays and vacations and health insurance.

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