Amac’s new tutor James McKeown has been working in the fitness industry for over 12 years including a role as a Gym Manager. James offers an employer’s viewpoint to aspiring Gym Instructors and Personal Trainers based on his own experiences.
From first-hand involvement, I have an understanding of what employers are looking for when recruiting gym staff as well as common oversights made by applicants. Not wishing to sound depressing but, as in most industries, it is very unlikely you will simply ‘fall into’ your dream job. To be successful in the fitness industry you must appreciate that hard work will be required throughout your career journey.
Start by considering why you want to work in a gym environment. An aptitude for sports or a love of exercise on its own will not suffice. Sometimes applicants have made personal fitness achievements themselves enabling them to really empathise with their clients, for example, significant weight-loss or recovery from an injury. It’s important to remember though being a gym instructor or a personal trainer is not about you; it’s about helping others achieve their fitness goals. You will need to have the drive as well as the ability to motivate those who may not be as enthusiastic about exercise as you are.
Make sure you have the right qualifications to support your job application. The fitness industry is much more competitive than it used to be and employers are looking for their staff to have skills above-and-beyond entry-level qualifications. In my opinion, fitness qualifications have actually gotten easier which might account for the saturation of entry level applicants and the subsequent choosiness of employers. Whatever the reason, a L2 Certificate in Gym Instructing as a stand-alone qualification is no longer enough for most gym-based roles. Most employers look for REPs membership too.
With this in mind, I cannot stress enough the importance in broadening your range of skills to set yourself apart from other candidates and increase your employability. This could be through specialising in niche areas like Exercise Referral or qualifying to teach group exercise classes like Indoor Cycling. You might even want to advance your studies in complementary fields relating to general wellbeing, for example Nutrition for Healthy Living. Remember any additional fitness qualifications you undertake should be accredited by a reputable awarding body to guarantee they are nationally recognised by employers.
Building on your portfolio will also help you achieve job satisfaction alongside showing your commitment to professional development. From a personal and practical level, diversity will keep you motivated as it will add variety to your working week. New skills can provide different sources of income which is especially vital if you eventually plan to work on a freelance basis, for example, as a Personal Trainer. In case you hadn’t noticed, the fitness industry is very faddy, this year’s exercise craze might not pay the bills in 2016!
Career success is the result of commitment and hard work and the fitness industry is no exception. Never miss out on a chance to build your interpersonal skills and make a good impression. Don’t be disheartened if you are expected to perform less glamorous duties along the way, for example cleaning/maintaining gym facilities. Whatever you do, you are always learning. Having the right attitude and continually developing yourself shows employers you are a career-minded applicant who is ready for the job.