As I reflected on the post I wrote about the 4 things that bugged me about the fitness industry it occurred to me that I should focus on the positive and what I love instead fixating on the negative of what I don’t.
When I was 17 I ‘misrepresented’ my age to get a job at a gym (the old Bally’s on Rockville pike in Rockville, MD). At the time I wanted to work in a gym for a free membership. This was 1990 and was before being a full-time personal trainer was actually a viable career option. A college degree and a few jobs later in 1998 I made the decision to go full-time in fitness and immediately asked: “why didn’t I do this sooner?”
A career in fitness is not a short-cut to wealth, but it is a very rewarding career and it’s possible to watch change happen right in front of your eyes. Here is what I love about working in fitness:
1. Helping people change their lives.
When people join a gym, hire a personal trainer or start taking fitness classes they are looking for one thing: results. Results could mean many different things but as soon as you start helping someone work towards their goal you are helping them to change their life. There are very few jobs or careers where it’s possible to have a positive impact on a number of people a day and fitness is one of them. That will never change.
2. People look forward to seeing you.
Think about it, many service professionals are people you would rather avoid. Anytime you have to hire a service professional like a doctor, attorney, accountant, contractor it means you have a problem you need fixing (and it ain’t gonna be cheap). When you are a trainer or group instructor people take one hour of their very limited time to spend with you and (for the most part) they look forward to it. Even if a client shows up in a bad mood, a few minutes after they start sweating they generally feel and act a whole lot different. As fitness professionals we have an obligation to make the time we spend with our clients special so they look forward to the next appointment.
3. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to being a professional athlete.
How many careers allow you to train as a key component of your job? All things being equal I would love to be a pro athlete in almost any sport (except bowling), but I lack two very important fundamentals: athletic skill and talent. Pro athletes have to be in top condition to excel in their chosen sport; as a trainer and instructor it’s my job to stay in shape so I can model good health behaviors to clients and class participants. There are no seven figure contracts or endorsement deals but many clothing companies do offer instructor/trainer discounts and if you’re a good instructor many people know who you are, so it is kinda, sorta like being a pro athlete (yes, I’m stretching, but it’s my blog, so I’m allowed).
4. Playing with cool toys
Did you ever have that friend who always had the coolest, newest toys? Yeah, me too. Growing up there was always that kid who’s parents bought them the awesomest toys or video games (intellivision baseball, anyone?) and I was always jealous. My brother and I had our share of toys, but we were never the first ones to have the latest, greatest creations from Matel or Hasbro. Flash forward 30-something years one of the funnest things about being a trainer is learning how to use cool, new exercise equipment. A great way to stand out as a trainer is to follow equipment trends and be the first one to use a new piece in your facility. In 2000 I learned how to use stability balls; in 2003 I bought my first kettlebell; in 2007, picked up my first TRX and in 2009 I picked up the ViPR for the first time. The point is that going to fitness conferences, paying attention to new equipment trends and being an early adopter allows you to avoid burnout and attract attention in your facility by being the “go-to” expert for any new fitness trend or fad.
5. So many awesome colleagues and co-workers
One thing that most fitness people have in common is passion. It takes a lot of work, dedication and perseverance but the people who manage to eke out a career in fitness are an extremely unique breed. Over the years I have been blessed to have worked with some of the most dynamic, passionate people I could ever imagine meeting and it’s an honor to call many of them friends. It’s always fun to get together with like-minded folks and geek-out about exercise science. Our understanding about how exercise effects human physiology is always evolving and it’s fun to interact with other professionals to help promote a greater understanding of the science of human movement.
There you have it: a few key things that I love about my career and what gets me motivated to get up and get going every day. While some days can be a little challenging, overall I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life and am lucky to have a career that challenges and engages me on so many different levels.
If you’re a fitness pro, what do you like about our business?