Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
Every year, thousands of people consider starting a career in fitness and health. But most have no idea how to make their dream a reality. This article—written for both new and experienced fitness professionals—outlines a new curriculum for building a successful career.
How do you become successful in the fitness industry?
I wasn’t alone. And I’m still not.
There are thousands of people who are passionate about health and fitness and considering a career change. But like me back then, they don’t know where to start.
Should they go back to school for a new degree? Get certified as a personal trainer? Or maybe something else entirely?
I remember thinking through the positives and negatives of each before deciding on a course of action.
Option 1: Go back to school.
- Earn a degree.
- Learn all about biochemistry, anatomy, and exercise physiology.
- Takes at least two years to finish (and more likely, four to six years).
- Costs tens of thousands of dollars and could leave me deep in debt.
- Doesn’t prepare me for the day-to-day work of training real people (i.e. doesn’t show me how to write training programs or nutritional plans people will actually follow).
- Delivers few (if any) classes or resources on change psychology or business development.
Option 2: Get certified as a personal trainer.
- Faster than going back to school (Usually self-study, so I could go at my own pace.)
- Costs way less money.
- Learn enough anatomy and physiology to feel semi-competent.
- The certificate I earned after taking the test would make me seem more credible to potential clients.
- Doesn’t seem as “credible” as a degree.
- I don’t know which certification is “good” and which certification is “bad”.
- Still doesn’t teach me much about change psychology or business development.
So what did I do?
I got a crappy personal training certification, sweet-talked my way into a job as a “fitness assistant” at a local gym, and started training clients. (I eventually earned a better certification.)
At times, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had gamed the system! Here I was working with people, building my business, reading nutrition and exercise text books, and attending seminars. I felt like I had a big head-start.
But at other times, I felt like a fraud. I worried that everyone would look at my lack of formal education and know I was unfit to work with people, even if I was a certified trainer.
I worried that because I didn’t follow any sort of “path”, my new career in fitness was a joke. It was debilitating and even a little depressing.
But as I would later learn, my lack of a formal fitness and nutrition education put me in good company.