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Becoming a Personal Fitness Trainer in Arizona

If you’re considering a career as a personal trainer in Arizona, you will play a key role in helping a variety of people achieve their fitness and health goals. There are a variety of ways to use your skills from working in facilities that cater to seniors to high end fitness clubs that help keep their clients looking and feeling their best in a high energy setting. Whatever route you choose, there is a good chance you will have an opportunity to lead classes in of Arizona’s two very popular fitness styles, Brazilian Barre or Yogalates.

Leading large classes isn’t the only option available. Smaller classes or duo sessions are also very popular as well, and some clients even prefer private sessions. The demand for personal trainers is continuing to climb. With around 47% of the state’s population falling into a category of being insufficiently active, this demand is likely to continue. It is personal trainers who will play a crucial role in helping the residents of Arizona get in the best shape they can be.

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The average personal trainer in Arizona can expect to make upward for $36,000 annually according to US Bureau of labor Statistics reports. The top 10% exceed $73,000. By all accounts, there is plenty of room for growth and advancement in the field with no downturn in sight.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Arizona

With the growing popularity of workout programs like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), the demand gyms and fitness clubs have for personal trainers is intense. Not just anyone can step I and lead such classes, however. That is why they are seeking candidates with national certification that have demonstrated that are qualified to take charge.

Formal Education and Training

Naturally, most of the jobs as personal trainers are going to candidates that have undergraduate degrees and preferably graduate degrees. Some employers require relevant work experience, and others may even require that applicants have shadowed a nationally certified professional trainer and led classes and worked with clients under their supervision. When looking at your options regarding education programs geared toward a career as a personal trainer, look for these general educational options:

Two-year associate’s degree program in:

  • Exercise Science

  • Fitness and Health

  • Health and Physical Education

  • Sports Studies

Four-year bachelor’s degree program in:

  • Exercise Science (including courses in Physiological Foundations of Movement, Physical Activity in Health and Disease and Stress Management for Wellness)

  • Nutrition (including courses in Applied Food Principles, Introduction to Planning Therapeutic Diets and Advanced Human Nutrition)

  • Sports Medicine

  • Kinesiology

  • Physical Education/Coaching

  • Human Biology

  • Physiology

Coursework in many of the programs will likely cover the following topics:

  • Strength and conditioning

  • Sports and fitness nutrition

  • Exercise theory

  • Anatomy

  • Weight management

  • Biomechanics

  • Health analysis

Completing any of the above courses of study will academically prepare you to provide assistance to your clients in any number of ways. You will likely find yourself working with a wide range of fitness levels and athletic abilities, so the more educated you are on how to work with a variety of needs, the better. You may find yourself helping athletes reach their goals or helping middle aged persons attain their weight loss goals. The opportunity to do it all is in front of you.

As important as the academic knowledge you will attain is the ability to communicate and work with people. Being a personal trainer is all about interpersonal skills. Working with people to reach their goals in whatever ways are most effective for them. A personal trainer is not just a fitness leader or a goal setter; they are part cheerleader as well!

Personal Training Certification

In order to land a job as a personal trainer in Arizona, in almost every instance you will need national certification. Without being a member of one of the national credentialing organizations, you will not get very far. In some cases, you cannot even become a member of a nationally accredited organization without the proper undergraduate training in advance. The following organizations have been recognized by the Livestrong Foundation as being among the most widely recognized by employers. Each are also accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies:


  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS) - requires a 4-year degree

  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) - must have at least two years of fitness experience

  • National Endurance and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

  • International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)

  • The Cooper Institute

  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE)

  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)

  • American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA)

Additional Preparation

You may choose to go into a more specialized field of personal training, and if so, you will undoubtedly want to obtain more specialized certifications tailored to your areas of interest. The more specialized you get, the more demanding and rigorous the training and certification will be. Examples of additional certifications you may pursue are:

  • Functional Training Specialist

  • Sports Conditioning Specialist

  • Cycle Instructor Certification

  • Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Certification

  • Certified Health Fitness Specialist - requires a 4-year degree

Personal Training Careers in Arizona

Looking at this 2015 employment posting from Lifetime Fitness provides you with a glimpse of what kind of qualifications fitness centers are looking for in their ideal candidates.

Lifetime Fitness in the Phoenix area requires its trainers hold a four year degree and have at least one national certification before applying. They also prefer candidates with two years of fitness experience, so graduates of a degree program are at a significant advantage

With locations throughout Arizona, YouFit Health Clubs looks for candidates with at least two years of personal training experience and prefer candidates with four-year degrees. Their trainers are expected to lead classes and create plans to help clients meet individual fitness goals

Freedom Fitness in Cave Creek needs trainers who specialize in one-on-one training, group training, kettlebell, TRX, CrossFit, plyometrics and boxing. Their trainers receive a free membership and competitive compensation beginning at $25 per hour

Just as fitness clubs and gyms are looking for specific qualities in their potential hires, you too should consider what type of environment you want to work in as well. Take some time to look around at the clubs or gyms you are considering. Talk to their current trainers and check out what their equipment is like. See if it is a workout culture that suits you.

The following class rotation at Summit Health and Fitness in Flagstaff is an example of what kind of class rotations you may encounter.

  • Cycle and Spin: A high-intensity class that combines indoor cycling with an interval-style workout

  • Yoga: The classic mindfulness practice combining various poses to improve strength and flexibility

  • Gentle Yoga: a version of the mindfulness practice just for beginners

  • Pilates & Pilates Express: a series of body-weight bearing movements to develop core control and build strength

  • Ultimate Conditioning: develop strength as you learn proper form and technique for weights, bands and free weights

  • Urban Rebounding: a joint-friendly trampoline workout to develop balance and improve strength, agility, and endurance

  • Step: Step up and down at various heights to work legs and develop cardiovascular endurance

  • Boot Camp: A combination of sports drills and calisthenics to build strength and endurance

  • Zumba: a popular dance workout to Latin music

  • Silver Sneakers®: a low-impact workout experience for older adults

These are the types of classes you will most typically lead as a personal trainer in Arizona. Regardless of what type of facility you choose to work at or whether you prefer larger classes or individual consultation, you can play an integral role in helping Arizonans achieve their fitness goals.

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