Who is a fitness trainer? Who he really is? What does he need to know, what skills should he have and what are his duties? The given topic is so extensive that for its disclosure I will need several articles. Don’t miss them, but for now, let’s just find out who the fitness trainer is.
Today, the fitness industry, whoever said anything, is at the stage of growth. Despite of all economy turbulence, the number of sports clubs in every single city is growing constantly. As a result, the demand for qualified personnel is growing too. And in our case, I’m talking about coaching positions. So now, let’s figure out who he really is, a man holding the proud title of a “fitness trainer”.
Fitness trainer is a teacher, a tutor and a mentor in one person. It is a specialist who has specialized experience, as well as knowledge and skills in building a training process, to which could be attracted both unprepared people and professional athletes. The coach sets global goals, forms intermediate tasks and organizes on this basis the entire training process for his clients, with the goal of developing and enhancing their skills in a specific field of physical activity.
Within the frame of this article, I will try to familiarize you with all aspects of this profession. How people become trainers of a fitness club, how they come into the industry and how they grow and develop in it. Also, we will not ignore the flipside of the medal – to be more precise, the pitfalls of the profession. What problems the fitness trainers face in their work and why does they quit, change the club or even leave the industry altogether.
Career of the fitness trainer
Before you make the final decision for yourself about whether to go into the profession of a fitness trainer or not, you need to know what position you will have to start your career with. And it begins precisely from the position of instructor. After it comes the position of personal trainer, and then the position of master trainer. At that point, you will have to decide, how to develop your career – vertically or horizontally. What does it mean? Let’s figure out.
EXPERIENCE. Each particular fitness-club or network of clubs, builds a hierarchy of positions for its own conditions, which is often very differ from each other. However, in general terms, the basic model of the vector of career development looks exactly as I described it here.
- Vertical growth intends an aspiration to managerial positions. On this path, from the position of master coach, you can claim the position of department manager, after – the fitness director and finally – the fitness club director or CEO. In some cases after, there is position of regional manager (if it is a network and if it is represented in several regions/districts/states), and even higher, the position of manager of the whole network (all of its clubs in all regions/districts/states). Above the network manager can only be a business owner. You cannot grow to the position of owner, but in rare cases, you can become his partner and share business profits between yourselves. But that’s another kind of story.
- Horizontal growth means continuous progression solely in the field of coaching. On this path, from the position of the master trainer, specialists grow to the teacher of fitness courses, which implies training newbies in this profession and conducting courses for a specific target audience. Even higher in this hierarchy there is position of the presenter or speaker of industry conferences. This is level of skilled coaches with experience, the purpose of which is to share and exchange their experience with other professionals in the fitness industry. The highest level in a professional career can be considered a lecturer of international events. This is a professional, who thanks to many years of training practice, methodical developments, deep expertise, knowledge of foreign languages and wide recognition, speaks at industry events in various countries of the world.
A similar development path is ahead for trainers of group classes (yoga, pilates, calanetics, zumba, etc.), martial arts (boxing, karate, aikido, capoeira, etc.), aqua-zones (swimming, diving, water jumping, aquafitness, etc.) and not only. They all grow according to the same scenario described above. Growing up to the level of a master trainer, they choose one of two directions and continue their development either in the chosen specialization or in the management direction.
Career ladder of the fitness trainer
The instructor is mastering his professional skills, actively sells and conducts personal trainings, often works for several clubs and step by step gains experience, knowledge and authority. But this is just all over time, and to begin with, whatever path you choose, in any case, you have to go through three stages of the career ladder: an instructor, a personal trainer and a master trainer. Let’s talk about them.
- Instructor. The initial threshold for entry into the specialty. The employee of the club, whose level of initiative and responsibility is completely small. At this stage, the duties of the instructor are to perform the simplest actions, such as giving the introductory briefings for clients, being on duty in the gym, conducting trainings on the basis of simplest programs for clients without any disabilities. The instructor rarely writes a diet, he is not burdened with carrying out other types of training (for example, functional), also he advises clients on the level of basic concepts and definitions.
- Personal trainer. Experience, knowledge and skills at this level are already deeper enough. Responsibilities of a personal trainer usually involve working with any categories of clients, including those who have disorders of the musculoskeletal system and not only. The trainer independently determines the level of physical development of the client and his readiness for heavyweights and selected exercises. He changes training programs depending on the body’s response to them. He writes an individual training program. Also he gives advice on proper nutrition, as well as on the use of sports nutrition.
- Master trainer. A specialist who has undergone a narrowly focused training and who’s able to work with various health problems of clients. The duties of a master trainer are much broader. Such a specialist is free to orient in the concepts of building training programs, as well as the diet programs. He is knowledgeable in the application of both sports supplements and various pharmacological preparations and can safely prepare athletes for competitions. At this stage of career development, the master trainer already has his own methodological developments, such as books, articles etc.
Fitness trainer’s job description
Now, since we learned at least in general terms who’s a fitness trainer, it’s time to find out what functions he is prescribed to perform within the walls of a sports club. Let’s stop at the primary stage of entering the specialty, at the position of an instructor and try to understand his work instruction. Now we will take a look at such document as tasking order or job description of a fitness trainer. It provides such items as “General Terms”, “Functional obligations”, “Rights and responsibilities”.
The job description of an instructor prescribes the possibility of finding a job only for a person with a higher or secondary vocational education or a graduate of specialized fitness trainer training courses. Such a person may be employed, or fired from job only by order of the manager (or CEO) of a sports club. He submits exclusively to the fitness manager, if there is one. If not, to the director (CEO) of the fitness club.
- The main duties of a fitness trainer are the following. He is obliged to be familiar with the basic provisions of the regulatory, as well as other documents defining his rights, obligations and responsibilities. Including the administrative rules governing the work of a sports club. He should have knowledge of the following: methods of building the training process, the rules of operation of stations, machines and other equipment, techniques for correct performance of movements and exercises, features of work with different age groups, taking into account gender and level of physical development of a person. He should be aware of the likely causes of injury and their effective prevention. He is obliged to have knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biomechanics and nutritiology. Also he needs proficiency in methods of testing, measuring and fixing results, as well as providing first aid.
A fitness trainer operates and relies on legislation on physical culture and sports, labor safety, accident prevention and sanitation regulations. Also on various educational and methodological instructions that he may need to fulfill his direct duties. And also on the charter of the gym and the decrees and orders of the manager.
Obligations of a fitness trainer: 1.1) Obey the work regulations and instructions of the supervisor; 1.2) Use only corporate identity (unless otherwise prescribed by the rules); 1.3) Handle customer complaints; 1.4) Maintain order and cleanliness in the gym; 1.5) Monitor the safety of the inventory; 1.6) Maintain internal reporting; 1.7) Provide reports on your activities; 1.8) Assess the current state of health of the client; 1.9) If necessary, perform measurements and fixation of the client’s anthropometric data; 1.10) Demonstrate the technique of performing the exercises and induct briefing; 1.11) Manage the training process; 1.12) Insist on the need for warm-up; 1.13) Monitor the implementation of exercises and correct clients errors; 1.14) Monitor the effectiveness of client training; 1.15) Provide an advices on training and diet program; 1.16) Comply with the rules of labor protection, hygiene and fire safety; 1.17) Promptly eliminate violations and report on them to management; 1.18) Engage in self-education, learn and pass recertification.
Rights & responsibilities
Fitness trainer has the right to: 2.1) Get acquainted with the internal documentation of the institution where he works; 2.2) Require from the supervisor to ensure adequate conditions for the performance of their duties; 2.3) Make suggestions to the supervisor on improving the quality of the work; 2.4) Pass recertification and participate in industry events within the agreed time frame; 2.5) Join industry associations and unions; 2.6) Receive in the agreed order club form or equivalent cash payment.
Fitness trainer is responsible for: 3.1) Keeping his physical form at a level that is required for the position he held; 3.2) The level of preparedness for the planned certification; 3.3) Unfair performance of his duties; 3.4) Violation of the rules of business regulations, employment contract and schedule of the sports club; 3.5) Disclosure of information that is not intended to public; 3.6) Causing material damage to the club.
Summarizing the material, let’s try to sum it up and compress it to a few basic points. In general, the duties of a fitness trainer require the ability to work with clients, write training programs and prescribe a diet. To instruct clients and to teach them how to do exercises. To stay on duty in the gym and obey the safety regulations. That’s all. Smaller tasks are formed on the basis of larger ones. So your focus of knowledge is training and nutrition. This is what you get if you want to turn all the requirements into couple of simple words.
EXPERIENCE. Hard to learn, easy to do. All those responsibilities easily fit into the daily working pattern and therefore, being a natural component of the work of a fitness trainer. There’s nothing difficult in making efforts to fulfill them. Compliance with those rules is as mechanical as wiping your feet at the entrance, washing your hands before eating or brushing your teeth before going to bed.
Well, this material turned out quite dry and strict from the point of view of a fitness trainer. You had the opportunity to get acquainted with the duties of a fitness trainer and the requirements for the future specialist in finding a job. These are truisms, which is in general, rather superficially (albeit in sufficient detail) describing the working life of a fitness trainer.
Author – Felix Palmer