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Becoming a Fitness Trainer in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the level of overweight adults is among the lowest in the nation, in part due to the prolific use of personal trainers. Personal trainers in Hawaii are often sought out by clients looking for help staying in top form for one or more of the many outdoor activities Hawaii is known for. Whether it is surfing Waimea, diving Lahaina, kayaking Napali, or mountain biking Haleakala, clients will seek you out to improve their strength and flexibility to excel at the activities they love the most.

The kind of clients that personal trainers in Hawaii see come from all walks of life. The young and old, the very fit and looking to get in shape. You will help clients get healthier, rehabilitate from injuries, and set a nutrition plan to stay beach-body fit. You may work with locals or find yourself at a resort primarily working with tourists. In Hawaii, the possibilities are almost limitless.

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One of the best things about being a personal trainer in Hawaii is that you get to work in what is not only a healthy environment, but a beautiful one! Paradise is an amazing place to launch your career. The average annual salary hovers around $47,000 for personal trainers in gyms and studios which is the fifth highest rate in the nation for no-metro areas. Independent trainers and gym owners can make considerably more money and were not factored into arriving at the average annual salary.

As if the competitive pay wasn’t enough, the job rate growth between 2008 and 2018 for personal trainers in Hawaii was pegged at 28.6% which is nearly triple the national average.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Hawaii

To compete for jobs, or to be competitive as an independent personal trainer in Hawaii, it is essential that you develop valued qualifications through proper education and certification.

Formal Training and Education

In order to become a personal trainer in Hawaii, you have to be in top form. Not just physically, but mentally. Gyms and studios expect the best from their applicants and in most cases that means having an educational background that is based in a health and fitness related discipline.

You will find that Hawaii has a wide selection of excellent universities and colleges where you can earn a two or four degree in a field relevant to being a personal trainer that will look great on your resume. You may opt to take some courses online or enter a blended learning program. You will take classes in physiology, nutrition, kinesiology, and fitness theory in some cases.

Relevant areas of study for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree include:

  • Personal training

  • Exercise science

  • Sports medicine

  • Physical therapy

  • Medical exercise

  • Human biology and chemistry

  • Human anatomy and physiology

  • Kinesiology

  • Nutrition and dietetics

The coursework covered in some of these programs would include:

Exercise Science:

  • Principles, evaluations, and programs of fitness

  • Physiology of exercise

  • Exercise and its medical ramifications

  • Conditioning and fitness


  • Orientation in health and kinesiology

  • Health promotion

  • Physical activity epidemiology

  • Exercise psychology

Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Nutrition and health assessment

  • World food topics

  • Nutrition education and counseling

  • Food ingredient formulations and interactions

These study programs have been designed to help you develop strong interpersonal and communication skills that will help you effectively work with your clients. You will also learn how to develop solid nutrition plans, exercise regimens for clients of all ages and physical abilities and the kind of coaching and motivational skills needed to keep clients on track and coming back to continue their fitness program.

By having an undergraduate degree, be it two or four year, in a subject related to personal training is the best way to show you have the knowledge it takes to do the job. Most employers will also insist on you having a national certification and many of those certifying agencies also require an undergraduate degree for consideration.

National Certification Options

You will find that having a national certification as a personal trainer is a prerequisite of obtaining almost any job from one of Hawaii´s major gyms or spas. Each of the organizations below offers national certification. Some of the major professional certifying agencies include:

  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)

  • National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)

  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

  • The Cooper Institute

  • Professional Personal Trainers Association (PROPTA)

  • International Fitness Association (IFA)

  • National Personal Training Institute (NPTI)

  • International Sports Science Association (ISSA)

  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)

You will find that some national certifying agencies will require and undergraduate degree for certification. A significant number will also require certification in CPR as well. It is recommended that you be aware of the requirements for each organization you plan to apply to.

Working as a Personal Trainer in Hawaii

The following list represents a recent (March 2015) survey of the major employers of personal trainers in Hawaii and the qualifications they are looking for:

A Honolulu health club was recently seeking a personal trainer with at least two years of experience plus a professional certification. Starting pay was advertised at $100 per hour.

The Benchmark Resorts and Hotels branch at Turtle Bay Resort was recently advertising for a Fitness Center Attendant with the preferred qualification of a personal trainer certification.

A 24 Hour Fitness branch in Honolulu was recently advertising for a personal trainer who could meet these qualifications: Degree in a field related to personal training such as Kinesiology or Exercise Fitness, or a professional certification issued by an approved national personal training organization, with CPR and AED certifications.

Here we have included a schedule from the Honolulu Club to give you an idea of what a personal trainer in Hawaii may do when working at one of the bigger gyms or clubs. This is a club staffed with 14 experienced trainers.

The specialized classes offered at Honolulu Club include:

  • Tabata high-intensity interval training

  • Yoga – stretch, power, and Vinyasa

  • Pilates

  • Zumba and Aqua Zumba

  • Hula fitness

  • Ballet

  • Fusion training

As a personal trainer in Hawaii you may find yourself working with tourists looking to maintain their routine or locals trying to stay fit and healthy. The choice is yours.

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