The fitness industry is intriguing to many graduates of healthcare degree and certificate programs. With the boomer generation determined to maintain their fitness level and younger generations seeing fitness as part of an active and healthy life, the demand for personal fitness coaches, health club memberships and fitness programs tailored to specific life circumstances is expected to increase substantially in the coming years. Does more sports club membership mean we will need more professionals certified and experienced in first aid/CPR, or with expertise in therapeutic fitness?
To find out more about this career opportunity, Health Education Solutions interviewed Kara Thompson Shemin, public relations coordinator for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
HES: What skills and/or personality traits do you need to be successful in a career related to fitness and fitness training?
KTS: People skills and the ability to be self-motivated are critical to success in a fitness career. As part of IHRSA's 2008 Employee Compensation & Benefits Study, club operators were asked what qualities they look for when hiring staff for fitness/athletics departments. Among the top characteristics, in order of importance, were having a friendly personality, motivating clients, taking initiative, and being self-disciplined and inspiring to others. Organizational skills and ability to be flexible in scheduling were also deemed important.
HES: What kinds of jobs in the fitness profession require certification? And what certifications?
KTS: That information was also gathered in the 2008 Employee Compensation Report. There are quite a few fitness careers that require certification, including fitness director, group exercise/aerobics director, personal training director and trainers themselves, fitness center personnel including instructors, and specialists such as Pilates and yoga instructors.
Among those positions, some of the most important certifications are First Aid/CPR, ACE, and ACSM.
HES: Okay, let’s switch directions a bit. As more and more boomers with a commitment to fitness are aging, is there a trend in the number of personal trainers that are focusing on baby boomers? Is there an increase? Are trainers getting additional certification to prepare for this?
KTS: In IHRSA's Guide to Personal Training, demographic-specific personal training is recognized as a top trend in training, and one of the demographic groups we identify is the seniors/baby boomers. As this population grows, so, too, will the need for qualified fitness professionals to design and guide this demographic through customized fitness programs. Some of the leading certification agencies offer additional training or workshops or CEU's specific to baby boomer/senior programming.
HES: What other trends do you see in providing training for specific demographics?
KTS: Good health and fitness levels are important at any age, and for the baby boomer demographic in particular, exercise programs that help increase balance and mobility, strengthen muscles and joints, and combat the effects of arthritis, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are especially vital.
For example, walking on a treadmill, yoga, Pilates, and weight/resistance training are all important. Good balance can mean fewer falls, stronger muscles and bones can help stave off osteoporosis and arthritis, and doing cardio contributes to a healthy heart.
Older adults and seniors can benefit greatly from personal trainers who are experienced in offering senior-specific programming. Participating in group exercise classes can be particularly good for this group, since it helps them remain social and keep their fitness routine fresh and exciting. These exercise options enable seniors to perform the activities of daily living independently and live life more fully during their golden years.
Health Education Solutions offers courses in first aid
, CPR and AED certification
and bloodborne pathogens training
The information included in this article is based on the 2005 guidelines for CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care. Read more about the 2010 first aid guidelines.