Have a passion for helping others and want to start a career in fitness, but you don’t know where to start? Well, there are plenty of options, and it’s totally possible! At this point, I think I’ve done almost every one of them…from being a Group Fitness Instructor, a Trainer, a Presenter, and a Coach with a fitness business of my own…to doing marketing and event planning for fitness celebrity Chalene Johnson, too. It takes a little planning, hard work, and perseverance, but you can definitely work in fitness and have a job you love! So, stick with me as I share my story and tips for getting your start in the fitness world!
Getting My Start in the Fitness Industry
Here’s how I got my start… During my freshman year of college, I was a fairly shy person that dealt with bouts of depression. I pretty much kept to myself. While I grew up a dancer and cheerleader, I came to a point in my life where I was unhappy with myself and felt very self-conscious. Working out was one of the things I enjoyed most because it lifted my spirits. Since I was a rather private person, I preferred to work out in my dorm room rather than at my school’s gym. My all time favorite workout was Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Jam because Chalene is so positive.
I’m sure I drove my roommates crazy bopping around our teeny tiny dorm room, but it was one of the only things that really made me feel good at the time. When I had purchased all of the Turbo Jam videos and did them so many times I could literally recite every word, I went to Google searching for more.
Becoming a Fitness Instructor
That’s when I came across Powder Blue Productions and Turbo Kick (a workout created by Chalene Johnson for live classes at gyms). The only way I could get more workout videos was by completing an Instructor Training. While I had absolutely no intention of being an Instructor – because there was no way I was about to get up in front of a group of people and lead a class – I signed up for the training anyways, so I could get access to the workout videos and do them at home.
However, as soon as the training started, I knew I had to be a part of this and do more. I was so inspired by my Presenter (Angie Green). She made me realize the impact I could have on others. If working out and having fun doing it made ME feel so good, imagine what sharing this workout and the Instructor experience with others could do for them!
When the impact I could have on other people’s lives finally clicked, I realized it wasn’t about me anymore – I had to get over being so self conscious and worrying about what other people thought and focus on something bigger. I was so inspired that I decided that not only did I want to become an Instructor, but I also wanted become a Presenter.
I passed my Instructor Training and spent the entire summer practicing my first class. When I went back to school in the fall, I signed up to teach a class in the basement of the police station on campus as part of a work-study program. Yeah, I started out teaching to just 2 people, but boy did I have fun doing it! Being an Instructor totally brought me out of my shell. It allowed me to let parts of my personality show that I had been holding back in fear that someone would think I was stupid.
After lots of practice and teaching consistently, I was able to move my class to a gym setting where I build it up from two people to a packed class!
- The best thing about being an Instructor is your students. You never know what’s going on in the life of the person next to you. The fact that I can help someone get in shape, have a good time doing it, and help them forget about their problems for an hour is so rewarding. I’ve also met some of my best friends in the fitness world.
- To become an Instructor, you have to attend an Instructor Training. (Click here for a list of my favorite specialty trainings that I now present.) You also want to complete a Primary Group Fitness Training that will teach you what you need to know to lead a safe and effective class. I highly recommend either AFAA (Aerobic & Fitness Association of America) or ACE (American Council on Exercise). AFAA is great especially if you’re just starting out because it has a live workshop and hands-on training. While ACE is not a live course, it is very educational and thoroughly teaches the science behind working out.
- As a Fitness Instructor, you can make an average of anywhere between $10-$25 per hour. While you can’t really make a full time job out of instructing, it’s totally possible to work in fitness full time if you combine it with something like Personal Training or being a Coach (keep reading for more on this).
- Be patient. When starting a new class, it takes 6-12 months to fill it up (sometimes even longer). But, if you show up consistently, and you consistently deliver a good class, your class will build.
Becoming a Presenter
After getting completely addicted to teaching fitness classes and training in many different formats, I was ready to apply to become an APD (Area Promotions Director)/Presenter for Chalene Johnson’s company Powder Blue Productions. I did a lot of practicing on my teaching skills, cueing, and form & technique, filmed myself teaching, and sent in my application.
Based on my application, Powder Blue invited me to attend a live audition in Orange Country, California. I received the call to come to auditions right before one of my college classes, and I remember sitting in class unable to focus on anything else…I could only dream about what was in store for me! I was so excited!
This was a BIG deal – I was only 21 years old, the youngest APD applicant Powder Blue ever had, and I never even flew on a plane by myself. I was totally outside my comfort zone. When I arrived and had to speak in front of several rock stars in the fitness industry and teach Chalene Johnson HER OWN WORKOUT that SHE created, I about fell over from shaking so hard. I was a horrible speaker and was sure they weren’t going to choose me to represent their company. However, I did my very best throughout the audition process and tried to hide the fact that I was scared out of my mind.
A week after auditions, I thought I was dreaming when I was invited to become a part of the Powder Blue team! After tons of practice public speaking at Toastmasters groups and even more practice improving my skills as an Instructor, I was finally approved to present my first Turbo Kick training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I began my career in fitness. I was the greatest feeling of accomplishment as I finished training my first batch of Instructors that would pay it forward!
- Film your classes. The best way to prepare to become a Presenter (and a better Instructor) is filming yourself teaching group fitness classes. This gave me SO much insight. I picked up on bad form and technique habits as well as annoying phrases I used over and over again.
- Find a mentor! My mentor, Christine Dwyer (one of the top Presenters at Powder Blue) pushed me in ways I couldn’t push myself. She critiqued my teaching/form and picked up on things I couldn’t see myself. She gave it to me straight, and while her feedback stung a little from time to time, it made me better.
- Practice your speaking skills. As a Fitness Presenter, you spend several hours speaking and educating groups of people. You have to be comfortable in your own skin and be a good communicator. I highly recommend joining your local Toastmasters group to practice table topics, delivering speeches, and connecting with your audience.
Working in the Fitness Industry & Having Your Own Business
After a few years working as a Presenter for Powder Blue, I was finally able to land my dream job working in their corporate office. I knew from the very beginning when I took my Instructor training, that I wanted to be a bigger part of sharing their positive message with others. I think I applied for almost every job PB had open up, but when there was finally a good fit for my background in Marketing/Event Planning, they invited me to come on board.
I was scared to move across the country by myself, but it was a dream of mine, and I just went for it! In a two-week time frame, I gave notice at my job in Pittsburgh, sold my car, packed and shipped my belongings to California and hopped on a plane. When I got there, I had a just a few days to find an apartment, unpack, buy a new car, and furnish my apartment. It was a whirlwind! I can’t believe I now get to help Powder Blue spread their message on an even bigger scale! I love it!
On top of this, I have my own business as a Fitness Coach helping people find workouts and nutritional products that work for them. I support people in reaching their health and fitness goals and share what I’ve learned along the way. When it comes down to it, Coaching is all about having a passion for helping other people change their lives.
I still have to pinch myself from time to time. I can’t believe I get be a part of all of this and change people’s lives. I learn so much every day, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do what I love and help others. While establishing a career in the fitness industry isn’t easy, and it takes hard work, it’s totally possible. It’s one of the most rewarding careers you can have… so if you have it in you, GO FOR IT! If you have any questions about how to get started, just ask! I’m happy to help! (Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Getting hired into a full-time position in fitness takes time and perseverance. Full-time positions in the fitness industry aren’t easy to come by, and they’re difficult to get right off the bat. The best place to start is by becoming a Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, or Coach. By combining two or more of these jobs, you can create a full-time income. To work in a corporate position in the fitness industry, I recommend starting at one of the above positions as well. You gain invaluable knowledge and experience. Whatever you’re good at now, think of how you can apply it to fitness. For instance, I studied Marketing and Journalism in college. I applied this to fitness, and now I do marketing for a fitness company and write about fitness as well.
- Create your OWN position in the fitness industry and work for yourself. If you have a passion for helping people change their lives, and you want to do this for a living, I highly recommend becoming a Coach and working for yourself. As a Coach, I develop challenges and support groups to help people reach their health/fitness goals. I also help people find programs that are fun and work for them. I make my own schedule and work at this on my own time. Coaching can be a part-time or even a full-time gig depending on how much time you are willing and able to invest in it. Coaching is also a great way to hold yourself account to your own health and fitness goals because you must lead others by example. With some hard work and dedication, it’s totally possible to turn your Coaching business into a full time income and a booming business that feels more like a hobby than a job. I would love to support you and have you join my team! Just ask me how to get started!