Health and fitness is an expanding industry that offers plenty of opportunities for people with the interests and skills required to obtain highly rewarding positions or carve out their own niche with a business of their own. If you have a passion for working out, love your sports, and enjoy being active and helping people, a career in the fitness industry could be a good match. There are many kinds of career pathways you can follow, and the precise requirements in terms of qualifications will vary according to the country you wish to work in, so choose your educational institution based on what’s required where you would like to work.
A trainer is a person who helps competitors in any sport achieve their best possible results within the limits of safety and legality. You’ll be familiar with elite athletes having trainers, like Grand Slam tennis players or national team athletes, but trainers can also play a vital role in amateur sports as well, and schools, clinics, rehab facilities, and sports teams also need trainers.
Among your responsibilities, you would need to:
- Focus on physical conditioning to improve performance and prevent injury
- Build strength and agility in your athletes
- Ensure participants are warming up, exercising, and competing safely and to maximum effect
- Work closely with coaches and team physicians
- Assess injuries and design rehabilitation programs
Sports trainers should have a bachelor’s degree, and in many countries, you’ll need a master’s degree. Registration and/or certification by the national organizing bodies of the country you intend to work in will normally be a requirement too.
Physical therapy is an essential component of rehabilitation and physical conditioning in sports, evaluating and testing participants, assessing physical condition and weaknesses, and designing customized exercise and fitness plans to optimize recovery from injury. Physical therapists work in many different environments, including both amateur and professional sports teams, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, schools and colleges, and in private practice. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree, and preferably a master’s in the science of physical therapy, and you’ll need to gain as much work experience as you can.
A personal trainer works one-to-one with a client either at a gym or club or in the client’s home, and this is an ideal career for people who enjoy helping others reach their fitness goals. You can assist with every aspect of a client’s health and exercise program and guide them to the peak of their abilities, which is highly rewarding. You may be able to practice as a personal trainer without a degree, but certification in your profession will give you a better start. You can also move into educating student personal trainers as a course tutor or become a NVQ teacher with the right qualifications.
Sports and fitness nutrition is based on a sound knowledge of human nutrition that you can achieve with a bachelor’s degree, coupled with specialist knowledge of the particular requirements of sportsmen and women. Nutritional needs can vary according to gender, body type, and the kind of sports or activities the client is participating in. You also need to be able to adapt menus to suit dietary requirements such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, and diabetes, plus restrictions due to religious beliefs, lifestyle choices such as veganism, and the individual tastes of your clients. You don’t necessarily need qualifications to be a sports nutritionist, but you’ll have a wider range of options and more chance of advancing in your career if you do.
You’ll need a master’s degree in clinical psychology or preferably a Ph.D. to work as a sports psychologist, but it’s a career that’s set to become more and more prominent in the future. In recent years the importance of psychology to sports performance and goal achievement has been far more widely recognized, which has led to an ever-increasing demand for the services of sports psychologists. It’s now understood and proven that psychology has a major influence on:
- Mental fitness
- Ability to relax
All these aspects are vital for sports people to achieve their optimum results, and also benefit people in their daily lives outside of sports and fitness. A sports psychologist has the expertise to work with individuals on any psychological influences that are affecting their performance. These are just a few examples of the variety of roles available in the fitness industry. There are many more ways you can ally your love of sports and exercise with your other interests and talents to follow a career pathway that you find rewarding and fulfilling.