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What Is a Fitness Professional?

By Lily Ruha
Updated May 17, 2024
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A fitness professional helps people improve their physical fitness by offering exercise guidance, nutrition tips, and/or motivational strategies. Personal trainers, sports coaches, yoga practitioners, aerobics instructors, and dance teachers are often referred to as fitness professionals. These professionals are generally employed by gyms, dance studios, yoga studios, schools, and community centers. Although instruction is typically delivered in person, some fitness instructors create videos and/or communicate in writing via books and websites. Requirements for working in this field vary depending on the type of physical activity and the specific employer.

The category of fitness professionals is broad and may include athletics, calisthenics, yoga, dance, and martial arts instructors. A fitness professional generally has a solid knowledge of physical fitness in regards to strength training, flexibility development, and cardiovascular endurance. Some fitness instructors also possess and share knowledge about nutrition as it relates to weight loss and muscle building. Their guidance may include specific advice regarding adequate protein intake for muscle development and foods to eat in moderation, such as sugar, oils, and unhealthy fats. Professionals who practice a holistic approach to fitness may also employ motivational techniques that include meditation, affirmations, and strategies for overcoming procrastination.

Employers of fitness professionals include large gym franchises, small yoga or dance studios, martial arts schools, public and private schools, and community organizations. Independent personal trainers may also be hired by individuals with specific fitness goals. Depending on the type of physical activity, a fitness professional may work indoors or outdoors and deliver instruction one-on-one or in groups. Some fitness instructors are also writers who share their strategies via books and websites. Video is also a popular tool that these professionals use to lead strength and flexibility exercises and to teach activity-specific techniques. Some fitness instructors have their own television shows and guide the masses through exercise routines in a step-by-step fashion.

The requirements for working as a fitness professional vary across industries and employers. Gyms usually hire certified personal trainers, but a highly fit professional with extensive experience in fitness or athletics may work for a private client without certification. Dance teachers, yoga practitioners, and martial arts instructors generally have years of experience in their respective disciplines and possess extensive knowledge of specific techniques. To work for schools and colleges, fitness instructors usually need a degree and related certification. A high quality fitness professional is generally a fit, healthy person who leads by example through exercising regularly and practicing his own methodology.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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