How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Delaware

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If you’re considering a career as a personal trainer in Delaware, you’ll play an integral role in helping its residents meet the state’s physical activity guidelines designed to promote long-term health. According to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, residents should aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity per week, and your skills as a personal trainer will help them achieve these goals safely and effectively.

As a professional in the field, you might find yourself leading clients in some of Delaware’s latest workout trends. As the Delaware Online News Journal reports, bodyweight training is projected to be 2015’s most popular workout style. Lauded as a back to basics approach to fitness, you’ll help clients do push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts and planks to increase strength and endurance.

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You’ll also be a crucial part of helping clients lose weight and improve their overall health and wellness. In a state where one-third of adults are considered obese and 79,275 are living with diabetes, your career will make a huge difference as you help people with these issues set and achieve reasonable fitness and weight loss goals.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in Delaware

As personal trainers like The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels gain media exposure, trainers are finding their services are highly sought after at fitness clubs and gyms. Owners of these facilities are increasingly seeking qualified, well-educated trainers to meet the growing demand for expert services. This means that education and certification are more often seen as standard requirements when considering a career in the personal fitness industry.

Personal Training Degree Options

A two or four year undergraduate degree will set you apart in the eyes of future employers who look for candidates with specialized knowledge of nutrition and exercise. Education programs not only provide a strong theoretical foundation, they’ll also provide you with experience in the field even before you graduate. For example, you might have the opportunity to teach student-led group fitness classes or work as a student personal trainer as part of one of these programs.

The following are among the relevant degree programs available to you in Delaware:

Associate’s degree in:

  • Exercise Science
  • Fitness and Health

Bachelor’s degree in:

  • Nutrition
    • Including courses in Nutritional Assessment Methods, Nutrition Counseling and Nutrition in the Life Span

  • Exercise Science
    • Including courses in Clinical Exercise Physiology, Fundamentals of Sports Health Care and Advanced Physiology of Exercise
  • Sports Medicine
  • Biology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Physical Education
  • Kinesiology

Although each varies in its specialization, courses in these programs will typically cover some of the following topics:

  • Biomechanics
  • Weight management techniques
  • Health and fitness analysis
  • Principles of exercise
  • Sports and fitness nutrition
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Anatomy

These classes will equip you to meet a wide range of client needs. Whether you’re working with senior citizens, adults, or younger athletes, you’ll be able to design effective workout and nutrition plans to help them achieve fitness goals and improve their performance.

A degree program will also develop your coaching and interpersonal communication skills so you’ll feel confident motivating clients, even if they’re occasionally less than excited about working out. This is crucial because being a successful trainer is about more than just knowledge. Gyms are looking for personal trainers who are the total package, able to guide workouts and offer advice in an engaging way. With a relevant degree, you’ll have the experience you need to impress future employers and keep clients coming back.

National Certification for Personal Trainers

Most employers will expect you to obtain personal training certification from a national agency after graduation. The following organizations are recognized by the Livestrong Foundation for being approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and for their widespread acceptance among employers:

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS)
    • Requires a 4-year degree

  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
    • Must have at least two years of fitness experience
  • National Endurance and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)
  • International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)
  • The Cooper Institute
  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)
  • American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA)

You might also choose to pursue additional certifications in areas of interest to show future employers your specific area of expertise and to help you build a strong personal training resume. For instance, if you plan to teach water aerobics, you might decide to obtain lifeguarding or water safety certification, or you could pursue certification in group fitness if you enjoy teaching large groups.

The following are examples of some specialty certifications you might pursue through the organizations named above:

  • Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Certification
  • Clinical Exercise Specialist
  • Aquatic Fitness Professional
  • Sports Conditioning Specialist
  • Certified Health Fitness Specialist
    • Requires a 4-year degree

Personal Training Careers in Delaware

To give you a better picture of what your future career might look like after your education and training, it’s helpful to look at what employers are seeking in the ideal personal training job candidate. The following employment postings from March 2015 illustrate what some of these qualities might be:

  • Trainers at Done Done Fitness in Middletown must possess strong communication skills, people skills and personality. They must also be nationally certified and have previous experience in functional training and nutrition coaching
  • E-volve Fitness Studio in Wilmington looks for personal trainers with three years previous experience, making a degree program a wise choice. They also require national certification and their trainers must be able to modify exercises for diverse clients
  • The Forever Fit Foundation in Dover looks for professional trainers who have experience in the fitness industry, are familiar with a variety of clients and have knowledge of body structures and their function, putting trainers with previous education in anatomy at an advantage. They also prefer those with certification in Pilates

In addition to the qualities the above employers desire, personal trainers at most gyms are responsible for leading group fitness classes. These classes can vary significantly at different establishments, so it’s a great idea to look at the classes a fitness club offers to see if they suit your interests and fitness expertise. Whether you’re interested in High Intensity Interval Training and choose to work at a specialized CrossFit gym or value mindfulness and want to teach yoga, you’ll likely find a gym that offers the classes you enjoy.

The following rotation of classes at Siegel Jewish Community Center in Wilmington give a glimpse into some of the classes you might be called on to teach:

  • Awesome Abs: a 30 minute focused workout for abdominal muscles
  • Cardio Mix Up: participants practice functional toning movements to a motivational soundtrack to boost heart rate and increase endurance
  • Head to Toe Aerobics: a gentle, low impact aerobics class where participants use light weights
  • Hip Hop Fitness: an energetic, full body dance workout set to the latest hip hop music
  • Hooping: a Pilates inspired workout to tone and strengthen abs, back, and lower body
  • Kickboxing: a cardio karate class utilizing kick pads, free weights, punching bags and bodyweight training
  • Rise and Shine Yoga: a gentle flow of poses to start the day
  • Senior Exercise: a class geared towards seniors focusing on movement and functional strength. Participants are welcome to adapt exercises for chairs
  • Tabata: a high intensity interval training class targeting all muscle groups for a total body, fat-burning workout

As you lead participants in group fitness classes like these, design individual workout plans and motivate clients of all abilities to stay active, you’ll play an integral role in keeping Delaware’s population health and fit.

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