What it's like to work in the fitness industry

With all the emphasis on being active, it is not hard to believe that there is an estimated 13 percent growth in fitness trainer and instructor jobs from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fitness trainers are skyrocketing in popularity in today’s society in order to help us fight illness and obesity.

“As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs is expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors,” the bureau said.

Important skills the bureau says a trainer must have are: customer service, listening, motivational, physical, problem-solving and speaking. A successful trainer should also have a flexible schedule, solid education and certification, commitment to lifelong learning, enthusiasm and a solid business plan.

Everyone from the educated and uneducated to the young and old are becoming personal trainers, according to an article in The New York Times by Catherine Rampell. She said that that number of personal trainers grew by 44 percent from 2001 to 2011.

Although it seems that anyone is capable of working in the fitness industry, it is people like Deanna Jefferson who rise above and beyond.

Jefferson is a Nike trainer and owns Fab Body Factory gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

She recognizes the main skills fitness trainers should have, but says there are other skills that are also equally as important.

Trainers must be compassionate, but only to a certain level to ensure clients do not run all over trainers.

However, Jefferson says that trainers have to be bold. If they are not stern, they will break down every time people say they are tired.

In addition to these traits, trainers must be vivacious because whether they are leading a class or just one person though a workout, they do not want people to be bored.

Jefferson knew she wanted to be in health industry while in college, but it was not until after graduation that she realized she wanted to be in the fitness industry.

As a former NCAA collegiate athlete in competitive cheerleading/tumbling and acrobatics, Jefferson continued being active on her own and eventually fell in love with fitness.

She began her career in the fitness industry the way most trainers do, by training people she knew and receiving referrals.

Jefferson’s daily routine changes from day to day, but a typical Wednesday for her begins at 5:30 a.m. with a client at their home, followed by two other clients in her gym. She has a break from 8 to 11 a.m. and is back to work, leading a corporate wellness program, training clients and leading fitness classes in her gym until the evening. In-between her busy schedule, Jefferson answers emails and tends to administrative business.     

She says one of the best parts about her job is hearing feedback from people about their newfound confidence and energy. However, one of the worst parts about her job is scheduling.

“I’ve learned to be okay with saying no sometimes because I can’t do everything. Originally that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to say yes to everybody, and it got way too overwhelming,” Jefferson said.

She has worked with Skylar Diggins from the WNBA, Debra Lee from BET Networks and many other celebrities.

One of the most important things to Jefferson is ensuring that her clients have fun while working out and eating healthy because says if things are boring, a person will not stick with it.

She calls her fitness classes “dance parties” and spices up her recipes rather than eating the typical meal of chicken breast and vegetables.

Jefferson is able to maintain a positive and inspiring attitude through her “do what you want to do to stay healthy” mentality.  

“I think the health and fitness industry is a really positive industry to be in so it’s really easy to be positive and supportive with one another. It’s not like other industries where people are tearing each other down,” Jefferson said.