With so many careers in fitness to choose from, it can be tricky to narrow down your options. Should you become a personal trainer, aim for a management role, or something else?

In this article – we outline the top 10 fitness careers to help you decide on your job path (including what’s involved in each field, qualifications needed, and personal qualities that can help you succeed).

Trainer Essentials articles are written by qualified personal trainers with 15+ years of fitness industry experience. We’ve helped thousands of PTs to embark on their careers, level up their coaching, sales, and marketing skills, and grow their own training businesses.

Popular Careers in Fitness

So, let’s dive straight into talking about the different types of fitness careers out there. Each has its own pathway and unique benefits.

The most popular careers in fitness are…

  1. Gym instructor
  2. Personal trainer
  3. Group fitness instructor
  4. Fitness manager
  5. Health club manager
  6. Yoga teacher
  7. Sports coach
  8. Strength and conditioning coach
  9. Nutrition coach
  10. Physical therapist

A career in fitness opens up a world of possibilities, where you can work in an area you’re passionate about. It’s also an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives which can make it especially rewarding.

From guiding PT clients toward their fitness goals to leading fun group fitness classes, the job opportunities are as diverse as they are rewarding. Let’s explore each of these fitness career ideas in more detail…

List of Careers in Fitness

Gym Instructor

Being a gym instructor is a foundational position that offers hands-on interaction with clients. Gym instructors play a pivotal role in showing people how to use equipment, offering advice on form, and writing basic workout programmes.

Typically, gym instructors guide members on their individual workouts. They may also be expected to teach group fitness classes such as aerobics, circuits, HIIT, or spinning.

Gym instructors primarily work within gym facilities, whether they are part of a large chain or a smaller boutique studio. These are an ideal setting for newly qualified instructors to learn the ropes with access to state-of-the-art equipment and support from experienced colleagues.

Becoming a gym instructor typically requires completion of a certification program, such as those offered by organizations like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), or Future Fit. These certifications cover topics such as exercise science, anatomy, physiology, and program design, providing the foundational knowledge needed to excel in the role.

If you have a passion for fitness and enjoy working directly with clients to help them reach their goals, a career as a gym instructor could be an excellent fit. This role offers the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives, providing guidance, support, and motivation to help clients improve their health and well-being.

Insider experience – I was a gym instructor for a year while building up my PT experience. It was a great way to get started in the fitness industry and learn about working in a health club. This role built my experience in designing custom workout programs and grew my confidence in interacting with gym members.

Personal Trainer

Personal training is a dynamic and hands-on career path that’s all about helping clients achieve their fitness goals. It comes with lots of job benefits that sport and exercise fans will appreciate.

As a personal trainer, you’ll typically work one-on-one with clients in a variety of settings, including gyms, fitness centers, private studios, or even outdoors. Your role is to assess your clients’ fitness levels, develop customized workout plans tailored to their individual needs and goals, and provide ongoing support, motivation, and guidance to help them succeed.

In addition to working with individual clients, personal trainers may also lead small group training sessions, teach fitness classes, or offer specialized programs such as weight loss coaching or sports-specific training.

Learn more… about the typical day of a personal trainer or the pros and cons of becoming a PT.

This career path requires a passion for health and fitness, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and a commitment to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Personal trainers also need to stay up-to-date on the latest exercise science research, fitness trends, and industry best practices to provide the most effective and safe training programs for their clients. To become a PT you’ll need to complete a more advanced certification and usually need a first aid qualification and insurance too.

If you’re someone who loves working closely with people, has a knack for motivating others, and enjoys the challenge of helping clients overcome obstacles and achieve success, then a career as a personal trainer could be right up your alley.

Insider experience – I became a personal trainer in 2006 and loved helping clients with their fitness goals and learning about new training techniques. I didn’t have any sales or marketing experience which made it hard to get PT clients in the beginning (which is part of the reason I help PTs learn business skills now). But I used my training knowledge to land a role with a fitness equipment company which lead to travelling around the world to different gym events!

Group Fitness Instructor

As a group fitness instructor, you’ll lead energizing and motivating workout sessions for groups of people. These classes can range from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cardio dance to aerobics and circuits, providing a diverse array of options for participants.

Group fitness instructors often work in gyms, fitness centers, community centers, and studios. They lead classes in dedicated fitness spaces equipped with sound systems, mirrors, and exercise mats. They may also have the opportunity to teach outdoor classes in parks or other scenic locations, providing a refreshing change of scenery for participants.

This role requires a passion for fitness and a knack for creating engaging and dynamic workouts. Group fitness instructors need an excellent communication skills and ability to motivate and inspire participants. If you love the idea of leading fun and challenging workouts in a class setting, then a career as a group fitness instructor could be ideal.

Fitness Manager

As a fitness manager, you’ll oversee the day-to-day operations of a gym floor, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. This role typically involves managing the fitness team, scheduling classes, and driving personal training sales.

Fitness managers can work in a variety of settings, including gyms, health clubs, hotels, corporate wellness centers, and community recreation centers. They may also work for larger chains or franchises, overseeing multiple locations or departments within a single facility.

This role requires strong leadership and organizational skills, as well as a deep understanding of fitness programming and customer service principles. Fitness managers should be able to effectively manage staff, handle challenging situations with grace and professionalism, and ensure that the gym is operating in accordance with industry standards and regulations.

If you’re passionate about fitness and want to pursue management, then a career as a fitness manager could be an excellent fit for you. With the opportunity to make a positive impact on both staff and members alike, this role offers a rewarding blend of fitness, leadership, and business management.

Gym or Health Club Manager

As a gym or health club manager, you’ll oversee the overall operations of a facility, ensuring that all aspects of the business run smoothly and efficiently. This role goes beyond just fitness management and encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, including membership sales and marketing, customer service and retention, and overseeing facility operations like stock management and cleaning.

Gym managers can work in a variety of settings, including large health clubs, boutique fitness studios, corporate wellness centers, and resort spas. They may also have the opportunity to work for larger chains or franchises, overseeing multiple locations as an area manager.

This role requires strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills, as well as a deep understanding of business management principles and industry trends. Health club managers should be able to effectively manage staff, handle customer inquiries and concerns, and develop strategies to attract and retain members.

If you’re interested in wellness and want to pursue business management, then a career as a health club manager could be an excellent fit. With the opportunity to shape the overall direction of the club, this role offers a rewarding blend of fitness, leadership, and operational management.

Yoga Teacher

As a yoga teacher, you’ll guide students through a variety of yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques to help improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Yoga teachers often work in yoga studios, fitness centers, community centers, and wellness retreats, where they lead classes ranging from gentle, restorative yoga to dynamic, vinyasa flow.

Some yoga teachers also offer private sessions, workshops, and retreats they organize themselves. This allows them to connect with students on a deeper level and tailor their instruction to individual needs. As a yoga teacher you may also choose to specialize in specific styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Bikram, or Kundalini.

This role requires a deep understanding of yoga philosophy, anatomy, and alignment principles, as well as strong communication and interpersonal skills. Yoga teachers should be able to create a safe and supportive environment for students to explore their practice and deepen their understanding of themselves.

A group fitness instructing qualification won’t enable you to formally teach yoga – you’ll need to complete a dedicated certification in this area. If you’re passionate about yoga and have a desire to share its transformative benefits with others, then yoga teaching could be the perfect fit.

Sports Coach

As a sports coach, you’ll work with adults and children of all ages and skill levels. You might be helping them improve their performance in a specific sport or leading multi-activity sessions that are just for fun.

Sports coaches can work in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, universities, community centers, and professional sports organizations. They can also work in summer camps and holiday resorts.

In this role, you’ll be responsible for designing coaching sessions and training programs. You’ll teach participants fundamental skills and techniques, and develop strategies to help athletes succeed in competition. If working with athletes, you’ll also provide guidance both on and off the field, helping them develop teamwork, leadership, and discipline.

Sports coaches may specialize in a specific sport, such as soccer/football, basketball, cricket, or track and field. They may also work with athletes of different ages and ability levels, from youth recreational leagues to elite professional teams.

This role requires a strong understanding of sports science, coaching principles, and athlete development. You’ll need excellent communication and leadership skills, and the ability to motivate and inspire athletes. Plus be able to provide constructive feedback and guidance to help them reach their full potential.

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Another exciting career path in the fitness industry is as a strength and conditioning coach. These professionals work primarily with athletes to improve their athletic performance through customized training programs focused on strength, power, speed, and agility.

As a strength and conditioning coach, you’ll work closely with athletes from a variety of sports, ranging from high school teams to professional athletes. Your role will involve assessing each athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, designing individualized training plans, and implementing effective workout regimens to help them achieve their performance goals.

Strength and conditioning coaches typically work in sports facilities, training centers, and universities. They may also travel with sports teams to provide on-site coaching and support during games and competitions.

This career role requires a deep understanding of exercise physiology, biomechanics, and sports nutrition. You’ll also need strong communication and motivational skills to inspire athletes to reach their full potential. If you’d like to help athletes excel in their sport and thrive in a dynamic environment, a strength and conditioning career could be perfect.

Nutrition Coach

Food and fitness are intertwined so working as a nutrition coach is another career path to consider. You’ll work with clients to help them improve their overall health and well-being through personalized nutrition plans and guidance. Nutrition coaches work in wellness centers, gyms, private practice, and corporate wellness programs.

In this role, you’ll assess each client’s dietary habits, lifestyle factors, and health goals. Then you’ll create customized nutrition plans that meet their individual needs and preferences.

You’ll provide education and support to help clients make healthier food choices. You might also help them manage portion sizes and develop sustainable eating habits that support their long-term health and wellness goals.

Some nutrition coaches also offer group workshops, cooking classes, and meal planning services to help clients make practical diet and lifestyle changes. Many specialize in specific areas, such as weight management, sports nutrition, or dietary interventions for specific health conditions.

This role requires a strong understanding of nutrition science, dietary guidelines, and behavior change principles. You’ll also need excellent communication and coaching skills to help motivate and empower clients to make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Insider experience – I went back to university in my thirties to study a Masters Degree in Human Nutrition and became a fully qualified nutritionist. Helping people build healthy eating habits and design realistic meal plans is interesting work. By this time I’d been working in the health and fitness industry for 10+ years and was able to land sports nutrition writing jobs that paid for the degree.

Physical Therapist

As a physical therapist (also known as a physiotherapist in the UK), you’ll work with patients to help them recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, and improve their overall mobility and function. Physical therapists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and sports medicine facilities.

In this role, you’ll conduct assessments to evaluate each patient’s physical condition and develop personalized treatment plans to address their specific needs and goals. Treatment may include a combination of exercises, manual therapy techniques, modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation, and education on injury prevention and self-care strategies.

Physical therapists may specialize in a particular area of practice, such as orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, or geriatrics, and may work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. They work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, and occupational therapists, to provide comprehensive care to their patients.

This role requires a doctoral degree in physical therapy (DPT) and licensure in the state where you practice, as well as strong interpersonal and communication skills. Physical therapists should be compassionate and empathetic, with a genuine desire to help others improve their quality of life through physical rehabilitation. If you’re passionate about helping people recover from injury and regain their independence, then a career as a physical therapist could be ideal.

Evolving Careers in Fitness

So, there you have our top 10 list of fitness careers to help you understand the paths available. We hope this overview will help you narrow down which jobs you’re interested in so that you can do more targeted research on your chosen areas.

What we’ve covered so far are the more traditional careers in fitness, but the job landscape is evolving. Digital technologies and recent global events have shifted how people exercise, with online training increasingly in popularity.

Being a gym influencer, health blogger, or online trainer are all now viable careers in fitness. And the explosion of these areas means there are lots of other job opportunities that support them, such as fitness videographers, content writers, and social media managers.

Whichever path you choose, a fitness career offers a unique blend of passion and purpose. Whether you’re drawn to the hands-on approach of a personal trainer, the dynamic energy of a group fitness instructor, or the strategic leadership of a gym manager, there’s a path out there with your name on it.

Top 10 Fitness Careers Pinterest
Categories: BlogCareer