Get the Right Fitness Job

5 of the Most Commonplace Gym Careers

By Adam Willem, iHire, LLC

When you walk into a gym or health club and look around, you’ll notice all the different job positions needed to make the facility operate. Desk staff, personal trainers, group fitness instructors, management, and swim instructors are typical fitness jobs you’ll see. Are you looking to transition into a fitness career and work at a gym? While exact positions vary from gym to gym, here is the lowdown on some of the commonplace gym jobs.


Front Desk Staff

As the “face” of the gym, front desk personnel are in charge of greeting members and admitting access to the facility. They also take care of critical clerical tasks, such as answering phones, making appointments for members, housekeeping, restocking supplies, and other similar duties. While less physical then the other fitness jobs on this list, there may be some expectation of moving/assisting with equipment and maintenance of gym facilities. The position will also likely come with a free gym membership!

Outgoing people generally do much better in this position, as it’s necessary to foster a good relationship with members and people who come in the gym inquiring about the facility’s services.

Not a whole lot of prior experience is needed with this position but a service-oriented background is a plus. Some facilities may require that you have or be willing to get a CPR/AED certification.

Average Salary: $8–$11 per hour


Personal Trainer

Responsible for leading and motivating individuals in exercise programs, these employees can be one of the most important assets to any gym or health club. A personal trainer’s objective is quite simple – help the client reach their health goals. You will be required to develop a fitness program that takes into account the individual’s needs and intentions.

It may seem obvious, but a personal trainer must have a passion for fitness. The client looks to the trainer for encouragement and technical advice on how to efficiently use their time. Visible dedication is the best way to convince the client that YOU are the right person to help them.

And that is another crucial part of the job: being a salesperson. A personal trainer’s salary is dependent on how many clients they maintain. Not only do you have to persuade them that you can provide the assistance they need to reach their target fitness level, you have to be able to sell a healthy lifestyle to them.

Your personal trainer salary will grow as your client base does; when just starting out, it can take a while to develop one. While there may be healthy clients that need your expertise with a very specific type of training (e.g. a runner needing specialized cardiovascular training for an upcoming competition), a great deal of clients will be looking to develop a healthy lifestyle for the very first time. This will be apparent by a huge increase in clientele every year after January (New Year’s Resolutions).

A personal trainer’s requirements are extremely varied, with no set industry standard. Depending on where you choose to work, some places may call for a college degree in sports education, kinesiology, or other related majors. Most places will expect certification, though. The most common certifications include ACSM, ACE, NASM, and NSCA. Liability insurance and CPR/AED certification are also required.

Average Salary: $40,970–$69,746


Group Fitness Instructor

As more people have become interested in health and fitness, many gyms have begun offering classes for individuals who prefer working out in a group environment. Barre, Pilates, Yoga, Kickboxing, and Aerobics to name a few, there are dozens of different exercise programs for instructors to choose from when looking for a specialization.

While loving fitness is definitely a requirement, it is not enough to qualify anyone for a group fitness instructor position alone. At the end of the day, you are a teacher. It is your job to watch and guide those attending the class, providing assistance where needed. You need to be able to do the workout alongside the class with minimal effort, focused on the students rather than the workout itself. This would necessitate being in top physical condition.

Becoming a group fitness instructor is very similar to the career path of a personal trainer. First you must obtain certification, with some facilities also expecting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Most places look for some experience. The best way to gain experience if you don’t have any is to start networking. It doesn’t hurt to ask your local gym if there is a way to get your foot in the door. Some gyms offer internships or shadowing opportunities that can boost your resume and help you land your first fitness job.

Deciding on a specialty is also critical in terms of earning and maintaining proper certification. Liability insurance and CPR/AED certification is almost always required as well.

Average Salary: $36,160


Gym Manager

Easily the most “office job” of the gym careers on this list, a gym manager’s job is to make sure operations run smoothly. They are in charge of managing all the employees in the facility and are responsible for recruiting and hiring new talent.

Other duties include profit planning, budgeting, scheduling classes, ordering supplies and equipment, and developing short-term goals for the gym. Long-term goal setting may be required as well. Without expectations of strategic planning, something that will depend on what the owner is looking for, the pay for this position can be less than stellar.

Most places will want a college degree in administration or management. Work-related experience may be accepted in lieu of a degree from a university. CPR/AED may also be required.

Average Salary: $33,000


Swim Instructor

If your gym has a pool, they most likely offer some type of swim lessons. This can vary greatly depending on your specific gym’s aquatic programs, so it’s definitely worth inquiring with the gym beforehand.

Certain gyms offer more intense swim lessons aimed at swimming enthusiasts, and this career path is almost the same as class instructors. A few organizations that offer certifications include the American Red Cross, the YMCA, and SwimAmerica.  For less comprehensive swim lessons, the entry level is very accessible to newcomers.

Most of the time you will be teaching younger children (or possibly adults who never learned) different swim lessons. It is the instructor’s job to teach basic strokes (freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke) and techniques to those who aren’t proficient at swimming. Creating a positive and educational experience for the participant is important, especially for those who may have anxiety in water.

In addition to a specialized certification, employers may also expect you to complete their own training course. CPR/AED and First Aid certification is required.

Average Salary: $10–$12 per hour


Whatever type of fitness job you are seeking at the gym, iHireSportsandRecreation is a great place to see what opportunities are around you!


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