Be a Pro at Landing Your Dream Fitness Job

Group fitness instructor on the first day of her new job.

We all know the rules associated with applying for a job. Present your prospective employer with a concise, error-free resume. Prepare in advance for interviews or auditions, and arrive on time wearing appropriate attire.

But how often do job candidates in the fitness industry adhere to the proper protocol?

While many fitness professionals wear sneakers and exercise gear to work, job applicants should not adopt the same casual approach when seeking employment.

Just how professional is the fitness profession? And how do you measure up?

First Impression: The Resume

Most job applications begin with a written overview of past work experience and credentials. Never underestimate the impact of a well-presented and carefully prepared application and resume.

To an employer who doesn’t know you, your resume and cover letter reveal important clues about your possible attributes as an employee. First impressions are hard to avoid – things like grammar and an ability to communicate well in writing are being closely evaluated. An employer might interpret an application with spelling errors or outdated contact information as an indication that the applicant is careless and lacks attention to detail.

Based on this information, what inferences will he or she make about the applicant’s ability to conduct a safe and effective training session? If you submit a six-page resume riddled with run-on sentences, you can bet employers will have a hard time imagining you successfully organizing choreography patterns in a group exercise class.

With the growing number of workout options available in the industry, fitness instructors and trainers can feel pressured to dazzle employers with a myriad of certifications. Diversity is a sought-after asset in fitness, but trainers and instructors must be clear about the scope of their skills and qualifications.

For example, don’t say that you’re certified in a certain exercise niche or type of training when you only attended a brief workshop on the topic. Also, be informed about certification standards for the specific role before submitting your resume.

Foot in the Door: The Interview/Audition

When it comes to being prepared for a job interview, research is key. Visit the facility, pick up information, take some classes, visit their website, talk to people in the industry, and at the gym. If you are applying for a fitness instructing position, familiarize yourself with the facility’s exercise schedule and participant demographics. And don’t forget to dress accordingly for a formal interview. Dress to impress in professional attire – it lets them know you respect the position and their company.

A performance audition may be less formal than an interview, but you should be equally prepared. Make sure your music is cued and you have a clear idea of what patterns and exercise styles you will demonstrate. It looks unprofessional when an instructor is fumbling to remember patterns. If choreography is not your strength, keep your moves simple. Don’t attempt to present anything in your audition that you wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching in a class environment.

Essential Skills for an Expanding Industry

Education and certifications are important in the fitness industry, but it takes more than quality credentials to ensure hire-ability and on-going value as an employee. Most fitness employers are looking for applicants who are passionate about their work. Attitude is also important. Positive energy rates high with getting your foot in any door. Employers know they can train someone to have the necessary technical skills, but they can’t train someone to have a positive, energetic, outgoing, customer service-oriented attitude. In an industry that is constantly changing, flexible and adaptable employees are highly valued.

If you want to expand your horizons in the fitness profession, look beyond your expertise as a personal trainer or group exercise instructor. Focus on being a well-rounded employee, not just a great instructor. Don’t dismiss the importance of honing computer, writing, management and communication skills. Things like the ability to prepare grammatically sound and organized documents should not be ignored. There are still some instructors and trainers who think they don’t need to continue to educate themselves beyond the basic requirements. Don’t be one of these people!

While a high quality of professionalism and teaching ability is key, a keen business mindset will help set you apart. You should be able to understand the balance between a love of fitness and the business of fitness. If you hope to command the respect you deserve as a fitness leader, you must strive to keep pace with the industry’s growing image of professionalism.