How Do I Become a Health Fitness Specialist?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

There are many qualifications required to become a health fitness specialist but, unlike most other jobs, you typically will not receive on-the-job training; you are expected to have expert knowledge about health and fitness before getting the job. Many gyms and other establishments want specialists with a bachelor’s degree in fitness, such as physical education or exercise science. Certifications are another common requirement for you to become a health fitness specialist, because they typically deal with more hands-on issues. You are teaching people how to be fit, so having a fit physique of your own is a common requirement. Being able to adapt to clients and their health needs is another requirement, because creating an incorrect program can cause health problems or clients may not receive any benefits from the workout.

A bachelor’s degree is a common requirement if you want to become a health fitness specialist. The two most common degrees in this field are physical education and exercise science, but some may require other degrees. If you are trying to get hired by a place that treats athletes, a degree in kinesiology or sports wellness may be required. Degree requirements usually differ depending on the establishment's specialty.

Along with a bachelor’s degree, certifications are commonly required to become a health fitness specialist. Unlike a degree, which typically teaches you the knowledge behind fitness, certification programs are usually more hands-on, and you may have to work with other people to make exercise plans for them. Certification programs vary by area, and some may have general requirements while others are specialized.

Your job will be to help other people get fit, so being fit yourself typically is a requirement to become a health fitness specialist. You will rarely be checked for your exact muscle and fat content, but you should appear fit. If you are not in good shape, clients may not turn to you for help and your employer may lose clients.

You also are required to develop health plans for people according to their fitness goals and unique allergies or conditions. This means you will need to be familiar with various conditions and how they are treated. Developing reachable goals also is expected so you push a client hard enough that he sees benefits from the program without pushing him so hard that he gives up. Being able to adapt to clients and making fitness plans specifically for them — from a health standpoint and a personality standpoint — is vital.

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Discussion Comments


@JaneAir - I could definitely see a lawsuit like that happening in the near future. It does sound a bit discriminatory to require a health fitness specialist to look a certain way.

I'm more interested in the education required to become a health fitness specialist though. I had no idea you would need both a bachelor's degree and certification! I feel like I've always had this idea in my head that most people involved in the fitness industry are kind of empty headed. This article has definitely proven me wrong!


I think it's interesting that health fitness specialists are held to a much higher standard of appearance than other health care professionals. For example, you would think it would be a requirement for doctors to be physically fit and healthy. Their job is much more in-dept than the job of a health fitness specialist!

Anyway, I understand why places do this. I might not want to take advice from an unfit looking person about my fitness regimen. However, I wonder if this practice will eventually be challenged by some kind of discrimination lawsuit. You know, fat-ism or something like that?

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