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How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Hawaii

The success of personal trainers in Hawaii is one of the underlying factors that help to explain why the islands have the lowest percentage of overweight adults of all states in the nation.

In Hawaii, clients often look to personal trainers for targeted regimens designed to help them develop the strength and flexibility they need to excel at specific sports and outdoor activities. Whether your clients will be kayaking or surfing along the Napali coast in Kauai, mountain biking on Haleakala in Maui, or hiking around the Manoa Falls in Oahu, they’ll look to you for everything from strength and flexibility training to cardiovascular training.

As a personal trainer in Hawaii you will find that your clients come from all walks of life. One day you may be helping clients recover from repetitive motion injuries of the rotator cuff common among surfers. The next day you might be helping athletes prepare for the Big Island’s annual Ironman event. On other days you may find yourself helping wealthy residents stay in shape so they can enjoy an active retirement. Old, young, disabled, and healthy native Hawaiians, non-native residents and tourists all benefit from the services you’ll provide.

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Working as a personal trainer means spending your days in a healthy environment that you’ve grown to love and that supports your own personal health and fitness goals. Not to mention the fact that Hawaii’s personal trainers are among the highest paid in the US. In fact, with an average salary of $46,790 a year, Hawaii’s gyms and fitness clubs pay personal trainers the fifth-highest average salary among all non-metro areas in the nation – and this doesn’t even include independent trainers or gym owners who typically earn much more!

In addition to a competitive salary, job growth figures for personal trainers released by Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations are also something to get excited about. Between 2008 and 2018, job growth for personal trainers in Hawaii is projected to be 28.6 percent – nearly triple the state’s average job growth rate of 10.3 percent!

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Hawaii

To compete for jobs, or to be competitive as an independent personal trainer in Hawaii, it is essential that you develop valued qualifications through proper education and certification.

Formal Training and Education

Becoming a personal trainer in Hawaii is serious business that calls for a serious education. Employers either prefer or require their personal trainers to have demonstrated skills in the field of personal training, and this is most often accomplished through education and/or certification.

Hawaii’s campus-based colleges and universities offer relevant associate’s and bachelor’s degree that will help you add competitive skills to your résumé. Schools that offer programs designed to prepare professional trainers know that as a trainer, your physique is often your best marketing tool. Because of this, schools routinely offer online programs that will allow you to learn about physiology, diet and nutrition, exercise science and kinesiology, while allowing you the kind of freedom you need to spend your days at the gym.

Relevant areas of study for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree include:

  • Personal training
  • Exercise science
  • Sports medicine
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical exercise
  • Human biology and chemistry
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition and dietetics

The coursework covered in some of these programs would include:

  • Exercise Science:
    • Principles, evaluations, and programs of fitness
    • Physiology of exercise
    • Exercise and its medical ramifications
    • Conditioning and fitness
  • Kinesiology:
    • Orientation in health and kinesiology
    • Health promotion
    • Physical activity epidemiology
    • Exercise psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics:
    • Nutrition and health assessment
    • World food topics
    • Nutrition education and counseling
    • Food ingredient formulations and interactions

These programs are designed to impart the kind of critical thinking and interpersonal skills you’ll need to effectively communicate with clients of all ages, levels of fitness and socioeconomic backgrounds. With a formal education, you’ll not only learn how to creatively design and implement exercise and nutrition plans in accordance with scientific principals, you’ll also develop the skills necessary to keep clients motivated and assess their progress in reaching their personal fitness goals.

Associate’s and bachelor’s degree in subjects related to personal training will demonstrate a strong foundation of essential knowledge in the field. In fact, some nationally-recognized professional certification programs require candidates to have a degree to be eligible for certification.

National Certification Options

Most of Hawaii’s major employers either require or strongly prefer to hire personal trainers who have earned nationally-recognized professional certification. Each organization that sponsors one of these professional certifications has its own certification requirements. Employers will often specify that they prefer one of several different certifications. Some of the major professional certifying agencies include:

  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)
  • National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • The Cooper Institute
  • Professional Personal Trainers Association (PROPTA)
  • International Fitness Association (IFA)
  • National Personal Training Institute (NPTI)
  • International Sports Science Association (ISSA)
  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)

Some of these certifying organizations require that you already have a college degree in a field related to personal training. When considering certifications, it is also recommended that you get CPR and first aid certification, as these are usually a requirement for being hired in Hawaii’s gyms and health clubs.

Working as a Personal Trainer in Hawaii

The following list represents a recent (March 2015) survey of the major employers of personal trainers in Hawaii and the qualifications they are looking for:

  • A Honolulu health club was recently seeking a personal trainer with at least two years of experience plus a professional certification. Starting pay was advertised at $100 per hour.
  • The Benchmark Resorts and Hotels branch at Turtle Bay Resort was recently advertising for a Fitness Center Attendant with the preferred qualification of a personal trainer certification.
  • A 24 Hour Fitness branch in Honolulu was recently advertising for a personal trainer who could meet these qualifications:
    • Degree in a field related to personal training such as Kinesiology or Exercise Fitness, or a professional certification issued by an approved national personal training organization
    • CPR and AED certifications

To gain a better idea of what it is like to work as a personal trainer in Hawaii, you only need to look as far as the Honolulu Club. This fitness facility has a staff of 14 highly-motivated professional personal trainers that work with their clients on goals like improving health, weight loss, and targeted exercises.

The specialized classes offered at Honolulu Club include:

  • Tabata high-intensity interval training
  • Yoga – stretch, power, and Vinyasa
  • Pilates
  • Zumba and Aqua Zumba
  • Hula fitness
  • Ballet
  • Fusion training

Many of the millions of tourists who flock to Hawaii every year want to maintain their daily workout habits, and hotels are happy to cater to the demand. As a result, you will also find that many resort hotels seeking personal trainers to work in their affiliated fitness centers.

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