Careers in Exercise and Fitness

There's More Than Just Personal Training

Personal trainer working with young woman.
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The fitness industry is booming and, with so many people passionate about fitness and health and so many people who need help generating their own passion, it's no wonder that there's growing interest in fitness careers. Being a personal trainer is one option, but there are other options out there. Expand your horizons and learn about other ways to help people get healthy and fit.

Health or Wellness Coach

While personal trainers focus mostly on exercise, Wellness Coaching goes beyond personal training.

Wellness Coaches look at the big picture, working with clients to develop health and fitness programs by looking at the obstacles that stand in the way of success. This is often more of a collaborative experience, with the coach encouraging the client to come up with their own goals and ideas.

A Wellness Coach offers advice and guidance about:

When meeting with clients, you'll get to know them--find out what it is they need help with such as weight loss, eating habits, exercise and fitness, stress reduction, quitting smoking, etc. You'll help people manage conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes and you can even choose to work with special populations such as teens, kids, families, seniors, etc.

Benefits of Being a Wellness Coach

  • Flexibility - You can work with your clients in person or by telephone, email or Skype or all of the above. Many Wellness Coaches do most of their work on the phone, which allows them to work with people in a variety of areas and situations.
  • Opportunities - You can work with individuals or in a corporate environment, write books or articles, teach seminars and classes and work with personal trainers, doctors, dieticians, and other health professionals.
  • Income - How much you make will depend on where you live and your experience and background. Most sessions run from $50 to $100 a session.
  • Personal Satisfaction - You'll feel good about helping clients reach their goals and you'll form relationships that go beyond basic personal training.


You don't need a special degree to become a Wellness Coach, however at the very least, you'll want to get certified. There are many coaching certifications and degrees available. For more info., visit to learn more about getting certified.

Next: More Fitness Career Ideas

Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant

Offered by ACE, this certification teaches you how to develop weight management programs for clients that cover nutrition, exercise and lifestyle change. In this job, you work with clients to overcome barriers to health and fitness, so you're not just taking clients through workouts and sending them on their way.

To become a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant, you must already have an ACE certification for Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor or Clinical Exercise Specialist Certification.

For more info, visit the ACE website for requirements and exam dates.

Group Fitness Instructor

Group fitness is a popular career choice because you can do it part-time and teach whatever kind of class interests you the most. Income will vary depending on where you work and how many classes you teach. Some of the options include:

There are many certification options out there for group fitness, so check out my this list of certifying organizations to start your research now.

More Career Options

If you're feeling ambitious, you could always go for an advanced degree at a university in something like Sports Medicine or Exercise Science. These degrees will allow you to pursue careers or other degrees such as:

You'll also find there are a wide variety of certifications that can take you above and beyond personal training. Becoming a Health and Fitness Specialist, a Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist or even a Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer will give you the education you need to work with special populations who require more focused help.

You can learn more about these certifications at The American College of Sports Medicine.

The great thing about fitness is that it offers plenty of options for career choices, whether you want to pursue a degree or ease into it by getting a certification. Many people get into exercise and get so excited about the results, they can't wait to share that enthusiasm. If you're one of those people, take a chance and give fitness a try.

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