Ultimate Guide to Start Your Career in Fitness

career in fitness guide

Fitness isn’t a trend or a chore, it’s a way of life. And if you see it as a lifestyle, you may find yourself curious about starting a career in the fitness industry. After all, turning your passion into a career is the dream.

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to careers in fitness, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to start a successful career in the fitness industry. Also, it offers valuable tips to position yourself for a successful and rewarding professional journey.  

how to start fitness career

How Can I Make a Career Out of Fitness? 

Starting a career in fitness can be a rewarding and fulfilling journey for those passionate about health and wellness. Are you a fitness enthusiast looking to turn your passion into a profession? Or are you seeking a change in your career path?

The world of fitness offers a diverse range of opportunities. Let’s explore various avenues on how you can make a career out of fitness.

Become a Certified Fitness Professional

The first step toward a career in fitness is obtaining the necessary certifications. Consider becoming a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, or specialized fitness professional. Organizations such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) offer reputable certification programs. These certifications not only enhance your knowledge but also build credibility and trust with potential clients or employers.

Explore Different Professions

The fitness industry is vast, catering to diverse interests and needs. Explore fitness jobs to find your niche. You could become a yoga instructor, Pilates instructor, nutrition consultant, or even a fitness bootcamp instructor. Each specialization offers a unique set of skills and knowledge. 

Pursue Higher Education in Exercise Science or Kinesiology

For those looking to delve deeper into the science behind fitness, pursuing a degree in exercise science or kinesiology can open more advanced career opportunities. These degrees provide a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, offering a solid foundation for roles such as exercise physiologist, sports scientist, or rehabilitation specialist. You may even pursue fitness careers that have you working with the top athletes in the world.  

Here are some excellent university programs for exercise science and kinesiology: 

University of San Francisco 

California State University Chico 

Rice University 

University of Michigan 

The University of Texas at Austin  

Start Your Own Fitness Business

If you have an innovative spirit, consider starting your own fitness business. This could involve opening a gym, offering personalized training services, or creating online fitness programs.

Building your brand and showing a strong online presence through social media can help attract clients and grow your business. Fitness instructor YouTube channels grew in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. And they continue to do well.  

Join Corporate Wellness Programs

Many companies recognize the importance of employee well-being. So, they are investing in corporate wellness programs. You can explore opportunities to work with businesses, offering fitness classes, wellness workshops, or individual coaching sessions. Corporate wellness programs are a growing sector that allows you to positively affect employee health and productivity.

Embrace the Digital Landscape

In today’s digital age, the fitness industry has expanded into the online realm. Consider creating fitness content on platforms like YouTube or Instagram. You can provide virtual training sessions or develop fitness apps. The digital landscape provides a global reach, allowing you to connect with clients worldwide and build a diverse clientele. 

Making a career out of fitness involves a combination of education, passion, and strategic planning. By finding your strengths, interests, and goals, you can carve a fulfilling and successful path in the dynamic world of fitness. 

fitness education and certifications

Career in Fitness Education and Certifications 

Entering the fitness industry requires a combination of education, practical experience, and certification. Making your mind a museum of fitness knowledge is paramount for all jobs in fitness. With the right knowledge and continuing education, you can evolve with the industry. Here are some educational paths and certifications to pave the way for a successful career in the fitness world:

Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science or a Related Field

Certifications from Accredited Organizations

  • Get certifications from reputable fitness organizations. Some widely recognized certifications include: 
    • Personal Training Certification: Allows you to work as a personal trainer, designing customized workout programs for clients. 
  • Group Fitness Certification: Ideal for those interested in leading group exercise classes. 
  • Nutrition Certification: Enhances your knowledge of nutrition, allowing you to offer dietary guidance to clients. 

Specialized Certifications

  • Depending on your interests and career goals, consider specialized certifications such as: 
    • Corrective Exercise Specialist (e.g., NASM): Focuses on addressing muscle imbalances and preventing injuries. You may even want to go all-in with this field and become a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  
    • Strength and Conditioning Certification (e.g., CSCS): If you want to work with athletes, this is the certificate to go after. This certification will help you understand how to get the human body to an athletic peak safely.  

CPR/AED Certification 

Internships and Practical Experience 

  • Get hands-on experience through internships or part-time positions. Check your local fitness centers, gyms, or rehabilitation facilities for opportunities. Practical experience is invaluable in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. 
  • If you want to take it further, participate in the sport you’re helping athletes in. For example, get in a few amateur boxing matches, join a local basketball league, or take some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. Understanding a specific sport at a competitive level through participation boosts your credibility and knowledge.  

Continuing Education 

  • Stay current with industry trends and advancements by taking part in workshops, seminars, and continuing education courses. This ongoing commitment to learning proves your dedication to professional development. Also, to continue holding certain certifications, you will need to take more courses.  


  • Connect with professionals in the fitness industry, attend conferences, and engage with local fitness communities. Networking can offer valuable insights, mentorship opportunities, and potential job opportunities.  

The jobs in fitness are diverse, so you can customize your educational path for your specific interests. Reflect on whether you want to do personal training, group fitness, sports conditioning, or specialized areas like yoga or Pilates.

And always expand your knowledge. Stay passionate about promoting health and well-being. Doing so will ensure a fruitful career in fitness.

personal fitness coach

Learn How to Coach People 

So, you have the formal education and required certifications for a job in the fitness industry. But coaching people in the real world requires practice. To be a good trainer, coach, instructor or consultant, you must develop great communication skills.

This may be the most overlooked skill for careers in fitness. Leaning the basics of human psychology can help you quite a bit. Here are some guidelines to communicate effectively: 

  • Actively listen before you speak 
  • Be open and honest with your clients/group 
  • Learn how they learn and teach with that preference in mind  
  • Take notice of nonverbal signs 
  • Ask for feedback and be open to it  

As a fitness trainer/coach/instructor/consultant, you must be a teacher and leader. Getting to know your clients or group is pivotal to your success. Everyone has a unique learning style and attitude toward their training. Therefore, your communication skills must be comprehensive and tested.  

gym fitness

Work at a Gym or Solo? 

If you’re starting out, you could begin your career at a gym. However, you may have to start with an entry-level position at the gym first if you have no experience. There’s more stability at a gym, especially when you’re starting out looking for jobs in fitness. And you can hone your skills and make connections relatively easier at a gym.  

But going to the gym route may not be right for you. Perhaps you are well-experienced to market yourself on social media.

There are many online fitness trainers with YouTube channels that skyrocketed. You can create free fitness video content to advertise your style and expertise. And then create sections of videos to access for a subscription.

Also, you can promote personal fitness consultations. But if you don’t want to do it online, you can advertise in-person fitness training via social media. Building the right client list is paramount. Word of mouth and testimonials will make your marketing.

If you are starting out, see if a friend wants to work with you for a discount. This way you can gain experience, refine your skills, and get a real-world examples for your marketing strategy. 

best careers in fitness

What is the Best Career in Fitness? 

The “best” career in fitness depends on your interests, skills, and preferences. However, most of them require coaching and consulting skills and experience. Check out some popular fitness careers: 

Personal Trainer: Work one-on-one with clients, designing exercise programs, providing guidance on nutrition, and helping them achieve their fitness goals. 

Group Fitness Instructor: Lead group classes such as yoga, spin, or aerobics. This role involves creating engaging and effective workout routines for a group of participants. 

Fitness Coach: Offer coaching services that go beyond just physical training, including motivation, goal setting, and lifestyle changes. 

Nutritionist/Dietitian: Focus on the dietary aspect of fitness by helping clients develop healthy eating habits and personalized nutrition plans. 

Physical Therapist: Work with individuals to rehabilitate injuries, improve mobility, and enhance overall physical well-being. 

Sports Coach: Specialize in coaching specific sports, helping athletes improve their performance, technique, and conditioning. 

Fitness Blogger/Influencer: Share fitness tips, workouts, and lifestyle advice through online platforms. This career involves building a personal brand and connecting with a community. 

When choosing a career in fitness, consider your passion, skills, and the level of education or certification required for your chosen path. Also, stay up to date on health and wellness trends and continuously expand your knowledge of the fitness industry.  

best fitness career salaries

Does the Fitness Industry Pay Well? 

There are various fitness industry careers with a range of salaries. Many factors determine a specific job’s salary, including location and experience. However, there are several careers in fitness that are very fruitful.

According to ZipRecruiter, there are 5 jobs in fitness in the United States that pay more than the average fitness position salary. These could be fitness careers you could aim for: 

Fitness Engineering: $146,868 

Regional Fitness Director: $94,338 

Senior Fitness Specialist: $93,575 

Fitness Research: $90,419 

Corporate Fitness Trainer: $87,325 

Need support starting your career in fitness? Did you want us to elaborate on something in our fitness career guide? Contact us today. Also, check out our job board for the latest opportunities!