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How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Minnesota

As a personal trainer in Minnesota, you’ll find an endless array of opportunity available to you engage your fellow fitness fanatics and outdoor adventurers alike. Whether you’re preparing a client for a canoe trip through the boundary waters north of Ely, or leading a yoga class in Minneapolis’s trendy Uptown neighborhood, you’ll find people across the state are in need of a trained fitness professional to take them to the next level.

You’ll be working alongside some of the best the nation has to offer at facilities like the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota, the world’s largest amateur sports facility and Olympic training center. At Buck Hill you’ll rub elbows with National Ski Hall of Fame inductee Erich Sailer, Buck Hill’s racing coach since 1969 and trainer to the most decorated female ski racer in the history of the sport, Lindsey Vonn.

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You’ll also find that salaries are competitive, though location is key. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, while most of the state’s cities falls below the national average for personal trainer salaries, 60 percent of the state’s population resides in the Minneapolis St. Paul metropolitan area where the median salary is consistently above the national average. As of 2015, the median salary for a personal trainer in the Twin Cities is just under $58,000, with top trainers earning much more than this.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Minnesota

In Minnesota, fitness is more than just something reserved for those that have time to go to the gym, it is part of the state’s cultural identity. With a competitive community of extremely qualified personal trainers, education could make the difference between landing a great job or being passed over. Combine a relevant education at the associate’s or bachelor’s level with national certification, and you’ll be an ideal candidate.

Formal Education

With one of the largest and most well funded public university systems in the country and a wide variety of private institutions to choose from, you’ll find plenty of education options available to you in Minnesota. Many gyms require a 2 or 4 year degree, and those same programs will often feature internship programs or unique research opportunities that will help to set you apart from the pack.

Relevant programs available in Minnesota include graduate, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in:

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise Science: Health and Fitness
  • Exercise Science: Exercise and Sport Science
  • Athletic Training
  • Environmental and Outdoor Education
  • Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies
  • Sports Management

National Certification

You may have found that for some employers, a relevant degree supersedes certification through an accredited organization like the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). However, with the value Minnesota residents place on personal fitness, the job market is extremely competitive. Maintaining certification through an organization accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) will set you apart, and in many cases, will be absolutely necessary.

When choosing where to begin your certification process, keep the following in mind:

  • Membership Dues and Recertification Fees
  • Continued Education Credits (CEC)
  • Education Requirements
  • Online and Classroom Options
  • Additional Certification Options

While most organizations use written tests and online courses, many have certified training centers that provide a more hands on experience to their members. One program of note, the World Instructor Training Schools (W.I.T.S.), provide hands on training courses for their students over a 6 week period as a part of a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise degree available in Minneapolis. You can enroll in W.I.T.S. classes independently of the program if you prefer a classroom experience more similar to a standard university setting. W.I.T.S. also partners extensively with employers in the area to provide internships for its students, many of which turn into full employment. If you weren’t considering higher education, programs like W.I.T.S. can provide many of the same benefits of a full degree program but at a fraction of the cost.

Starting Your Career as a Personal Trainer in Minnesota

Minneapolis has more gyms per person than any other city in the country, with 73.8 gyms and fitness centers for every one million residents. Outside of the gym, Minneapolis has a diverse fitness community that employs personal trainers to teach everything from martial arts to dance classes.

A look at job postings from Minnesota’s top fitness industry employers provides a glimpse at what your future as a trainer in Minneapolis could entail (Examples shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Xperience Fitness is looking to hire full time personal trainers at their locations in Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Vadnais Heights, and Woodbury. They require an associate’s degree in exercise science or any related area, or a national level certification.
  • Snap Fitness in Cottage Grove is looking for a fitness center manager to handle day-to-day operations. They are looking for a candidate with prior fitness training experience.
  • Life Time Fitness in Eagan is in need of a nutrition coach to both empower members and help them to maintain health and fitness goals and facilitate seminars on nutrition. They prefer a 4-year degree in nutrition, dietetics, kinesiology, or exercise science, and outpatient nutrition counseling experience within the fitness industry. They also require a certification through at least one nutritionist certification organization, as well as a personal trainer certification.

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