Be a Fitness Teacher: Course and Degree Program Requirements
Learn how to become a fitness teacher. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career as a fitness teacher.
Fitness Teacher Requirements
Fitness teachers are also called instructors or trainers; they lead and instruct those who are interested in improving their physical conditioning and getting into better shape. Clients may include individuals of all ages and conditioning levels, and fitness teachers and instructors may focus on strength training, stretching, cardiovascular exercise or a combination of all three. In addition to creating fitness plans, fitness teachers show clients how to perform exercises and monitor their progress.
While a high school diploma is the minimum education requirement to work as a fitness teacher or instructor, earning a degree may be beneficial. Employers may also prefer that fitness professionals earn certification in the field. The table below includes the requirements to become a fitness teacher.
|Degree Level||High school diploma|
|Certification||Voluntary; certification for fitness professionals is available through a number of organizations|
|Experience||A background in fitness and being in shape are important|
|Key Skills||In addition to being physically fit, fitness teachers and instructors must have strong communication skills and be detail-oriented|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Monster.com job postings (September 2012)'
Step 1: Graduate From High School
Employers prefer to hire fitness trainers and instructors who have at least graduated from high school. While in high school, students can take courses in health and physical education to prepare for a career in the field. Additionally, taking science-related courses prepares students for postsecondary education.
Step 2: Consider a Postsecondary Program
Whether it's an associate's or bachelor's degree, prospective fitness teachers can enroll in programs entitled exercise science or kinesiology. In addition to classes involving fitness and strength training, students learn about the human anatomy, nutrition, human development and exercise science. Earning a degree in the field may prepare graduates for certification examinations as well.
- Focus on a specific fitness area. Fitness programs can focus on specialties such as group exercise, Pilates, yoga, personal training and kickboxing. Learning to teach a specific program may enhance employment opportunities, as gyms and fitness centers look for classes that cater to different types of members.
Step 3: Obtain Fitness Certifications
Fitness certification is available from several different organizations. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) offers many accredited fitness certification programs. The association's personal fitness trainer certification program gives in-depth instruction on the duties and responsibilities of a personal trainer and prepares students for the Personal Fitness Trainer National Board exam. The AFAA also offers certification programs in group exercise, step aerobics and kickboxing.
The National Association for Fitness Certification offers certifications in personal training, health and wellness, group fitness and wellness consultation. Aspiring fitness instructors learn how to assess the fitness level of clients, design fitness plans to meet client goals and educate clients on weight management and nutrition.
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