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How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Florida

Florida is an ideal location to begin or continue a career as a personal fitness trainer. With a very health and fitness minded populace, Personal trainers in Florida have a number of opportunities to do everything from lead Pilates classes, to weight training programs and water based aerobic programs. The young and old, along with everyone in between, are looking for the next thing to keep them fit, healthy and feeling their best.

As being outside is a central part of life for so many Floridians, whether it be on the beach, the water, or elsewhere, there is no shortage of people looking to keep their bodies toned and tight. With that said, the CDC still says a full two thirds of Florida residents are overweight and in need of a healthy living intervention. It makes sense that a fair portion of what you may find yourself doing as a personal trainer is laying out sensible nutrition plans for your clients.

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Florida is always on the cutting edge of fitness which means that as a personal trainer, you will be able to lead your clients through some of the hottest trends in fitness like High Intensity Interval training, and yogalates. Most studios and gyms offer a variety of classes so the odds are you will always be offering what is new and hot and you will be capitalizing on that by leading those trendy classes!

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Florida

Fitness club owners in Florida are always looking for highly trained personal trainers with specialized backgrounds that will help them meet the needs of gym goers. That makes having a solid, relevant, educational background and national certification a near necessity to land any job in the industry.

Advantages of Education and Training

Holding an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in a field related to health and fitness is one of the best ways to establish a strong foundation for a career as a personal trainer. This will provide you with a background in nutrition, physiology, fitness theory and a number of assorted bits of knowledge to help make you the best trainer you can be. It will also help prepare you to be an effective communicator which is a cornerstone of being a well-rounded personal trainer.

As preparation for a career in personal training, you can pursue a degree program in one of the following areas:

Associate’s degree program in:

  • Fitness and Health

  • Exercise Science

Bachelor’s degree program in:

  • Kinesiology (including courses in Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries, Physiology of Exercise and Training and Principles of Strength and Conditioning)

  • Exercise Science (including courses in Coaching Theory, Fitness and Weight Management and Physical Activity & Preventative Medicine)

  • Nutrition (including courses in Community Nutrition, Lifespan Nutrition and Food Science and Composition)

  • Human Biology

  • Exercise Physiology

  • Sports Medicine

  • Physical Education

At a broader level, coursework in many of the above programs will have in common the following topics:

  • Anatomy

  • Sports and fitness nutrition

  • Exercise theory

  • Analysis of health and fitness

  • Biomechanics

  • Weight management

  • Strength and conditioning

Completion of one of these degree programs will provide you with the tools you need to be well equipped to handle any needs your clients have that may arise. Whether it is a younger athlete looking to get that edge to go to the next level, or an older client that requires joint friendly exercises to help remain limber, you will be able to help them. You will have both the skills and knowledge necessary to tailor workout programs to meet their needs.

Club owners seek personal trainers that have exceptional interpersonal skills. In most cases, personal trainers are responsible for keeping their own records and preparing their own written communications so you will need high level writing skills. Furthermore, communication with your clients is the primary way you will convey information to them so you must be able to organize your thoughts and get them out clearly. Also, it will help keep clients coming back for more sessions.

National Certification for Personal Trainers

Personal trainers are almost always required to hold at least one national certification. Most certifying organizations will require that you are CPR certified and some will require an undergraduate degree as well.

The following national organizations provide certification accepted by fitness club owners in Florida:

  • 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)

The Livestrong Foundation recognizes these organizations for their widespread acceptance among personal training employers and the fact that they’re accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Specialty Certification

Pursuing additional certifications in more specialized areas of health and fitness is an excellent way to set yourself apart and make yourself more appealing to employers. You may choose to look into various disciplines of yoga, water aerobics and lifesaving certification, or even certification in cycling. Whatever you choose to do will enhance your career prospects and make you a well-rounded personal trainer.

The following are a few specialty certifications you might consider from the above named certifying agencies:

  • Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Certification

  • Post-Rehab Conditioning Specialist

  • Functional Training Specialist

  • Cycle Instructor Certification

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

Beginning a Rewarding Career as a Personal Trainer in Florida

As you prepare to begin your career as a Florida personal trainer, it is helpful to know what kind of opportunities are available and what those employers are looking for in prospects. Here, we have compiled a few job listings from March of 2015 to give you an idea of what is out there.

The Harbour Island Athletic Club in Tampa looks for personal trainers with a national certification and prefers those with a four-year degree in exercise physiology or a related area. Trainers here enjoy benefits including professional development training, a retirement plan and an earnings potential of over $50,000.

Personal trainers at LifeTime Fitness in Boca Raton are expected to perform comprehensive assessments, give personalized nutrition and fitness advice and create customized workouts for clients. Trainers must hold one national certification at minimum and those with four-year degrees in kinesiology, sports medicine or a related field are preferred

When narrowing down your options of where you may want to work, something you will want to pay close attention to is what types of classes each facility offers. Some will offer a broad range of classes while others may be more specialized. Either way, you will want to ensure that whichever one you choose is a good fit for your skills and desires.

The following rotation of classes at the YMCA of Northwest Florida offer a sampling of classes you might lead:

  • Barre Method: a class featuring strength exercises that use the ballet barre to sculpt long, lean muscles

  • Boot Camp: pegged “recess for grown-ups,” Boot Camp combines a variety of drills to work on speed, balance and agility

  • Body Sculpt: a full body workout using hand-held weights

  • Pilates: mat exercises emphasize core training and proper breathing techniques

  • Zumba: a popular, upbeat dance workout to Latin music

  • Senior Fit: a class for clients 65 and older featuring strength training, yoga, balance and flexibility

  • Pound: a full-body cardio workout that fuses cardio, isometric movements, Pilates and plyometrics

  • Spinning: a high-intensity indoor cycling class that boosts heart rate and endurance

Once you become a personal trainer in Florida, you will be responsible to lead classes like these, work with a variety of people of varying skill levels and ultimately help keep your clients healthy and happy.

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