How to Get Into the Fitness Industry: Tips from a Fitness Director

Working in the fitness industry comes with a myriad of benefits. Whatever career path you choose to go down, most allow you the opportunity to help others reach their goals, which can be extremely rewarding. Plus, the job outlook for the industry is positive.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of fitness trainers or instructors is projected to grow 39% from 2020 to 2030. On average, more than 69,000 openings for fitness instructors are projected each year. If you’re thinking about entering the fitness industry or making a switch in careers, there’s never a wrong time to do so.

Stacy Bradley, Fitness Director at CrossTown Fitness, is living proof that it’s never too late to make a career change and pursue your passion. Coming out of college with a degree in marketing and advertising, she held a few different jobs in interior design for about six years. However, she couldn’t ignore the passion she had for health and fitness. She joined CrossTown as a member in 2014, fell in love with the atmosphere, and the CrossTownFitness community, spurring her decision to make the career switch to personal training, and she hasn’t looked back.

If you’re passionate about fitness and see yourself working in the industry, we’re breaking down tips straight from our Fitness Director, Stacy, on how to get into the fitness industry and what to expect along the way:

1. Find Your Fit

There are so many different career paths you can pursue in the fitness industry, from personal training to nutrition and management. You may not know what you want right off the bat, so it’s important to do your research, and determine what skills, characteristics, experience, etc., that each career would require. “Find what you’re passionate about — there are so many different paths you can take in fitness, and they’re not all in the same,” said Stacy. “It may take some time to figure it out, and that’s okay.”

2. Prepare for Odd Hours

With a job in the fitness industry, you can’t expect to work between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday like you would a normal desk job. Instead, “Be ready to grind, work long hours, and odd times of the day and evening,” advises Stacy. “A lot of days I was working from 5 am to 9 pm, not 9 am to 5 pm.” It may take some time to get used to if you’re coming from a job with a more rigid schedule, but the hard work you put in will be well worth it.

3. Obtain the Right Certifications

With whatever path you choose to go down, it’s important to get the proper certifications. For example, if you’re looking to become a personal trainer, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) offers a variety of online certification programs. For those wanting to seek a career in nutrition, NASM also offers courses to become a certified nutrition coach. These certifications give you credibility and help communicate to your clients and potential clients that you’re well qualified.

4. Start with Friends and Family

Those interested in personal training can hone their skills by first training friends or family members. Not only is this a great way to get your feet wet in the industry, but it’s also a way to start building clientele. Ask them to refer you to their friends, their co-workers, etc., to help grow your client base. Word of mouth is critical in starting out in the fitness industry.

5. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media can be a great tool for getting new clients if you use it in the right way. Build credibility by sharing your certifications in your bio, and provide value to those following you by offering quality content, including helpful tips, instructional videos, and more. You can also ask current clients to provide a positive testimonial for you to share on your page to show others what’s possible when working with you.

6. Be Patient

Patience is key when pursuing a career in fitness. Stacy had to take time to really build a list of trusted clients. “It takes time to actually immerse yourself in the industry,” she said. “You can’t just snap your fingers and have a lot of clients.” Be patient, continue putting in the hard work, and give yourself time to get where you want to be in your career.

7. Prepare Before Applying

Before you apply for a job in the fitness industry, make sure you have a resume put together that highlights your education, skills, and work history. With whatever job you’re applying for, always try to tailor your resume to that particular position. You’ll also want to research various companies you’re interested in working for, not only to prepare you for a potential interview but to make sure that it’s the right fit for you and your career goals.

8. Always Continue Learning

You become even more valuable to your clientele if you choose to learn as much as you can. “Always learn from other people, and continue your education,” said Stacy. “There are a lot of trainers who choose to stay stagnant in their path and don’t continue to grow themselves, which doesn’t allow for career growth.” There’s always going to be something new to learn, and another way to grow your skillset. Take those opportunities whenever you can.

In addition to being CrossFit Level 1 and Strong First Kettlebell Level 1 certified, Stacy also pursued a certification specializing in pregnancy and postpartum corrective exercise. Not only do these additional certifications provide better service for her current clients, but it also provides a unique opportunity for her to grow her client base and ultimately makes her more valuable as a trainer.

The first step to learning more about the fitness industry is to immerse yourself in the community. Browse membership options at any of our three Chicago locations. Looking forward to seeing you!


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