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Becoming a Fitness Trainer in Iowa

As a personal trainer in Iowa, every day can be an adventure. You may find yourself preparing a client for the Des Moines marathon one morning and the next you may be helping a high school pitcher work on his leg strength. You will likely have new moms, grandparents, teens, and middle aged people populating your client list, each with their own unique fitness needs.

A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation uncovered that 49% of the adults in Iowa take part in moderate physical activities or more. Not to be outdone, Iowa’s high school students stay in shape to the degree that 51% meet or exceed the recommended daily levels for physical activity. That a good number, but one you can help improve!

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Whatever health or fitness club you choose to work in, as a personal trainer in Iowa, you will be an important part of keeping the state’s residents healthy. You may lead fitness hikes in Loess Hills, cycling, or offering a Pilates class in one of the many beautiful state parks. The options available to you to keep your clients healthy in bot creative ways and beautiful surroundings are limitless.

In the decade leading up to 2022, the estimates for growth in the personal trainer field from the Iowa Workforce Information Network point to an increase of between 12.7 to 22.2%. Overall, the growth rate for jobs in Iowa as a whole is only 11%. That indicates that working as a personal trainer in Iowa is both stable and potentially rewarding. If employment stability is important to you, being a personal trainer is an excellent career choice.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Iowa

Whether your employment goals are to work as a freelancer or in a fitness club or gym, making sure you have all of your qualifications checked off is the key to success.

Getting a Formal Education

As is true in most career fields, Iowa`s employers of personal trainers, value education. You will find that many are looking for applicants with an undergraduate degree in a program related to personal training. It’s not just employers looking at your education, your potential clients will be as well. They will want to know they are working with someone that is adept with the latest fitness techniques and theories available. It can also help you avoid frivolous liability claims.

A variety of educational opportunities are available in Iowa to prepare you for a career in personal training. In many cases, you will be able to take at least some of your classes online so that you can have some flexibility in your schedule and keep up with your own personal fitness. Programs offered in Iowa include:

Exercise Science – this program of study includes classes like:

  • Principles, evaluations, and programs of fitness

  • Physiology of exercise

  • Exercise and its medical ramifications

  • Conditioning and fitness

Kinesiology – as part of this major you will study:

  • Orientation in health and kinesiology

  • Health promotion

  • Physical activity epidemiology

  • Exercise psychology

Nutrition and Dietetics – a degree in this field will include the study of courses like:

  • Nutrition and health assessment

  • World food topics

  • Nutrition education and counseling

  • Food ingredient formulations and interactions

This list of relevant majors to prepare you for a career as a personal trainer is far from complete, but it is an excellent sampling. Degrees in Physical Therapy or Physical Education are also excellent paths to a career as a personal trainer in Iowa.

Nationally Recognized Professional Certifications

Just as you have preferences regarding your career path, employers have preferences of what they require in applicants. Many will only consider applicants that have a current national certification. There are quite a few agencies to choose from, and here are several you may want to consider.

  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)

  • International Fitness Association (IFA)

  • National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)

  • The Cooper Institute (CI)

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

  • Professional Personal Trainers Association (PROPTA)

  • International Sports Science Association (ISSA)

  • National Personal Training Institute (NPTI)

  • Lifetime (LT) Academy

  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)

Each of these organizations has its own certification requirements. Some agencies require that you already have a college degree to be eligible for certification.

Iowa’s Personal Trainers

By familiarizing yourself with what jobs are available and what credentials employers are seeking. With this information, you can better prepare yourself to enter the job market for personal trainers. Here we have collected a few samples of job postings for personal trainers in Iowa from March of 2015 to provide you with an idea of what kind of jobs are available and what employers expect from applicants.

Life Time Fitness in Des Moines was looking for a personal trainer who either had a professional certification or could earn one within six months of hire. The club prefers to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics, Nutrition, Exercise Science, Kinesiology, or another related field.

Anytime Fitness in Marion was advertising for a personal trainer who had both a relevant degree and experience.

Performance Health and Fitness in Coralville was searching for a personal trainer who had a degree in a fitness-related field plus the preferred qualification of a certification issued by one of these agencies: ACSM, ACE, NASM, or NSCA.

Two branches of the YMCA were looking to fill the following positions:

Personal Trainer with the YMCA in Council Bluffs – background in fitness and current CPR certification required; preferred qualifications include a college degree in a health-related plus professional certification.

Boot Camp Personal Trainer with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines – requires a bachelor’s degree in a health or fitness field, or a professional certification from one of the following: ACE, ACSM, CI, NASM, NSCA, NETA, or AFAA.

A good example of what type of work you may be doing if you choose employment with a fitness club can be seen by examining this listing of classes from Performance Health and Fitness center in Coralville. There they employ 6 general personal trainers and another dozen plus specialized trainers. At a facility like this you can have great variety in both the type of training you provide and the clients you work with.

  • Weight training

  • Body Training Combat – includes elements of Karate, boxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Tai Chi

  • Body Flow Training – includes fitness aspects taken from Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates

  • Kick Butt Step Training

  • Zumba

  • Zumba and Spinning designed for older clients

  • Body Vive Training – a fitness regimen that incorporates VIVE balls, body weight, and tubes to boost core strength

Becoming a personal trainer in Iowa is a very respectable goal and one that ensures your days are spent helping others while providing for your future.


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