I always received emails and messages from people asking for advice how/where should they start a career in the fitness industry. So I thought I’ll just write this up and share this page with them the next time I receive similar emails/messages.
The first step; Get yourself a personal training certification.
Getting yourself certified would be the first thing to do if you are serious to pursue a career in the fitness industry. A personal training certification will provide you the basic knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise science, program design, nutrition etc. If any of these words sound foreign to you, google up to see what they are. And yes, I purposely highlighted basic knowledge, and you’ll know why later.
However, some of you might be a college degree or diploma graduate in the health and fitness field, it is not necessary to pursue a certification unless you are incompetent from your formal education in college. Yes, incompetency is not unusual among our local graduates in this industry. I’ve spoken to many degree and diploma holders in our industry – Man, i tell you. I won’t hire most them for not knowing their basic exercise science.
The second step; Getting yourself certified is not enough, now your need ‘real-life’ knowledge.
Yes, you heard me right. Once you are certified, armed with your basic knowledge from the certification textbook and with a nice certificate framed up, you’ll be damn excited to train your first client. But be prepared for surprises. You’ll come across conditions and issues with your clients that your certification textbook never touch on. Practical experience will build up as time goes from training real clients.
I would suggest that you start investing your time on mentorship with an experienced fitness professional or interning with a local fitness facility. I would strongly suggest the first choice, because from what I heard and saw is that interns will usually end up picking up weights that the members of the fitness facility used. Unless you are very proactive and hungry for knowledge, beside picking up weights you’ll take the initiative to learn and shadow from senior trainers in your local fitness facility – but make sure your senior trainer has a wide knowledge base compared to you.
Attending live workshops and conferences would also help you to learn things that are not covered in text books as well. This usually happens during case studies and sharing from other trainers during the workshop/conferences you attend.
Last but not least, read books and watch dvds on specialty area that you are interested. I’m personally into strength and conditioning topics along with injury prevention and rehabilitation. If you are interested in injury prevention and rehabilitation related stuffs you can see what fitness professionals like Rick Kaselj, Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey has to offer, for strength and conditioning related stuffs you can check out Mike Boyle, Mike Mahler and the list goes on. I personally own books and dvds by them ( and many more others fitness professionals that I’m lazy to list them down) and I learn heaps of knowledge from them. They are money and time worth investing on.
The third step; Market yourself, continue learning and serve your clients well
There’s no end in learning when you are a fitness professional. Coincidentally Eric Cressey wrote an article titled; “4 Reasons the Game is Always Changing in the Fitness Industry” that links well to this subtopic.
Lastly, but not exactly last because there’s Part 2.
The fitness industry is an unregulated industry. This mean anyone walking at the street can call themselves a personal trainer. Yes, anyone including my 92 years old grandfather. This is not just happening in the personal training scene in Malaysia, but also in the USA as I’ve written about it last year. Although the fitness industry is unregulated, but there are few well established certifying bodies that has built their reputation and also accredited by accrediting bodies. However, accreditation doesn’t mean regulation.
You can be a trainer who is certified, or you can be a trainer who is not certified.
As much as there are more awareness now with clients asking about trainer’s credential and competency before hiring them, there are also many clients who are unaware that they are at higher risk of injury as they are trained by incompetent trainers who bull shitted their way into getting clients to trust them.
In my next write up, I’ll be listing down the options on where and how you can get yourself to be certified in Malaysia.