Your Questions About Health And Fitness Careers

George asks…

What should I expect my salary to be as a personal trainer working at a retirement community?

A little background on me first I guess. I went to school for Environmental Science and during the summer and winter breaks I would come home and work as a fitness attendant at a retirement community (specifically an independent, assisted and long-term care facility). After I graduated about two years ago, jobs in env sci didn't exactly come my way and I ended up taking a full-time position as a fitness attendant at the retirement community. Although it isn't exactly my academic background I enjoy the health/fitness field immensely and am considering a career change into personal training and perhaps physical therapy.

I'm currently studying for three certifications from the ISSA:

Certified Fitness Trainer ( their general personal trainer cert)
Specialist in Exercise Therapy ( post rehabilitative and chronic conditions cert)
Specialist in Fitness Nutrition ( exercise nutrition cert)

The most appropriate certification listed above is probably the specialist in exercise therapy as we have an onsite rehabilitation unit which my department works very closely as many residents are discharged with prescribed and recommended exercises to our fitness center.

My question is after I get certified what should I demand/expect my salary to be? I love my job and expect to still be employed there but I'm very murky about salary expectations in clinical settings as opposed to commercial places like gyms where part of your income is commissioned based.

Your interest and feedback would be much appreciated !

dknol answers:

It seems you are faced with a choice. Work as an employee or as an independent contractor.

As an employee you must conform to whatever the ‘boss' is willing to pay.

As an independent contractor you set your own pay on a case by case basis and pay the community a commission from your earnings.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both. You will have to choose. Ask questions of the community in question. They might prefer NOT to have an employee.

So ask lots of questions. Licensing board. Tax authorities. Chamber of commerce. Other fitness people, etc.

Bottom line ask questions. Decide for yourself.

John asks…

Career opportunities in the equine world?

I am think of pursuing a career in equine health, more specifically equine massage therapy or physical therapy. I am currently in school for Health, Wellness and Fitness, graduating with a diploma next spring. Which career would have a) a higher salary, b) shorter career path, c) higher demand, d) more job opportunities?

dknol answers:

It doesn't really matter, equine massage and “physical therapy” are both bullsh*t “disciplines”. That is unless the individual doing the physical therapy is a licensed veterinarian. So study massage, acupuncture etc. They are the shortest routes to separating idiots from their money in the horse world.

David asks…

Where should I try for an internship if I am pursuing a career in Nutrition & Fitness?

I live in Los Angeles, I am a sophomore in college, and my passion is Nutrition & Fitness. Any advice for where I should start would be greatly appreciated!

dknol answers:

Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition and diabetes education. About half of all registered dietitians work in clinical settings, private practice, or health-care facilities. Many work in community and public health settings, academia and research, business, journalism, sports nutrition and wellness programs.

Michael asks…

What strengths are important to becoming and being a personal trainer?

I have a friend who is super interested in fitness and really has a talent for learning about how to keep himself in shape. Unfortunately he also has some brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome. This affects everyone differently since different parts of the brain can be harmed, but in general, people with FAS tend to have trouble with memory, math, reading, and organizational skills. However, like anyone else, people with FAS often have a few natural talents and if you go with strengths and support weaknesses properly, they can be wildly successful in their lives!

My friend is definitely not stupid. He has a quick sense of humor, and is good interacting with people. And he has been memorizing fitness routines, following up on shoes and gadgets and all kinds of different things for years now and also pays close attention to his diet…the proof that he has mastered the information is his body. He is in remarkable shape and really has a passion for it.

So far, this is just a hobby for my friend but today I asked if he had ever looked into being a personal trainer…he is currently working at Walmart in an entry level position, and he has really never thought of himself able to move beyond that because of his disability. But with proper support, he can do a lot more than push carts and move meat. He lit up when I asked him about being a trainer and I know he started looking into it. I told him I would also help find some info.

So without insulting the profession at all…I want to ask, how mentally demanding is this as a career? Are there academic classes? How long? Is it hands on learning and certification? Do you have to keep up credits? Does it lean heavy on math and reading skills? He can do both, but not lightning fast…you know? I think the goal would be working with clients in a health club and he probably would need some mentoring and some accommodations for his deficits, just like someone with any other disability. He would need to be in a really supportive setting.

Does this sound like a proper career choice for a guy with his skill set?

dknol answers:

I think he would be great! One of the biggest skillsets for this position is the ability to work with people. It's crazy, I've seen plenty of trainers who aren't even in shape. It really blows my mind that they don't believe in their profession enough to actually practice it. There's little to no math and reading involved and there ARE community college courses you can take. I think there are even online classes you can take. I believe it is less than a year long program. Not so sure about that. You have DO have to get certified though, this involves a test. Most people either take a course which prepares them for the certification exam or just read the book and then take the exam. It is somewhere between like $150 – $250 just to take it, so you want to be sure you're prepared for the test. There about a million different certifications out there. There are some bigger ones that are nationally recognized like ACSM and ACE. For the most part it is not a big deal which certification you have, as long as you are certified. Personal training is a tricky business. Most good ones can make $30 – $50/hr and obviously the great ones make much much more, but there are the overwhelming majority who make less. You either have to find your own clients and build up your clientale which could take a really really long time, but after that you're pretty set because you have all these regulars. Or you can work at some large corporation like L.A. Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness and get paid like crap. And it's tricky because you almost have to start at a place like that to get experience and build up clientale. The hardest parts of the job for me are varying my routines semi regularly, which gets easier and easier with time. Gauging what weight my clients might need and making sure they're not going to hurt themselves (form). And actually finding clients. All these things get much easier with time, and is very very much not a math or english heavy field. It is very laid back, very very hands on. It's very fun and interesting. I love working with people. It can be very difficult if you're not a people person. Oh and you do have to renew your certification every 2 years or so depending on your certification. This can be done by continuing education which takes so many forms. It can be attending a conference, taking a class online, taking a class at a school, retaking a certification exam, and more. Good luck! I think he'll love it

Maria asks…

I want to become a personal trainer is that a good career?

okay so I am 24 and haven't even started school yet, mainly because i didn't know what I wanted to do. but I love the fitness and health world. I have been looking into becoming a personal trainer. so my question is. how much they make annually, should I have another degree like a bachelors in nutrition to go along with a personal training license, and is it actually a good career or just a good job for a few years.

dknol answers:

Personally, I believe a salary is not what makes a good career, it is if you are enjoying what you are doing!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for personal trainers in 2012 was $15.25 per hour or $31,720 per year. A good thing to keep in mind also is that this job is in high demand, with the projected job growth for 2010 – 2020 at 20% to 28%.

Entry-job level education is your high-school diploma or an equivalent, but most employers hire individuals who have been certified in order to work individually with clients. Another thing to keep in mind is that employers usually want personal trainers to be certified in CPR as well.

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