How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Indiana

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According to numbers released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the number of personal trainer jobs in the state is expected to increase by 11.8 percent over the seven years leading up to 2022. Within this time frame Indiana employment experts project 460 new personal trainer jobs to be created statewide.

As a personal trainer you will find your clients have a variety of health and fitness goals that are not strictly limited to weight loss. Indiana’s residents seek the professional guidance of personal trainers to stay fit, recover from injuries, and improve health, in addition to other personal reasons that include simply wanting to look and feel good.

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In this dynamic field you may find yourself working with a young person looking to get toned in time for summer at Lake Michigan on day, while the next day you may be working with an elderly client who wants to get in shape for the Southern Indiana Outdoor Festival in Sullivan County.

Mei Fitness in Indianapolis provides a good example of the kind of services you can expect to provide as a personal trainer working in Indiana. This club employs a team of personal trainers who work with their clients on health goals through group and individual classes like:

  • Zumba
  • Spinning and cycling
  • Yoga
  • Circuit training
  • Weight training
  • Cardio training

Whether as part of a team at a popular health club, or independently leading a yoga class in White River State Park in Indianapolis’ city center, as a personal trainer in Indiana you will be a vital part of promoting health and fitness.

Getting the Education You Need to Become a Personal Trainer in Indiana

Most of Indiana’s employers in the fitness industry show a preference to applicants that have a college degree in a relevant field along with professional certification. In fact, some nationally-recognized personal trainer certification agencies only recognize certification candidates that have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Colleges and Universities for Personal Trainers

Institutions of higher education offer opportunities to study the science of body movement at locations throughout Indiana, as well as through online courses that ensure you have plenty of time to keep up on your own daily exercise routine.

Associate’s and bachelor’s degree options with majors that are relevant to prospective personal trainers include the following (shown here with their associated courses):

  • Exercise Science:
    • Fitness programs as therapy
    • Principles in exercise, fitness, and rehabilitation
    • Prevention and care of injuries
  • Nutrition and Dietetics:
    • Nutrition in exercise and sport
    • Nutrition and disease
    • Diet and nutrition for sports fitness
  • Kinesiology:
    • Human anatomy and physiology
    • Exercise prescription and chronic diseases
    • Advanced biomechanics
  • Physical Therapy:
    • Anatomy of the spine and limbs
    • Kinesiology and rehabilitation
    • Neuro-musculo system

Besides gaining knowledge that will be applicable to meeting the demands of your job, your clients may also prefer to work with someone who has completed a formal education program related to the science of body movement.

Personal Trainer Certification Programs

The majority of Indiana’s health clubs, spas and gyms that employ personal trainers prefer or require that you have professional certification. Each sponsoring organization has its own condition for certification. If you already have an ideal employer in mind you should check to see which certifications they prefer you to have. The best recognized fitness industry professional certification bodies include:

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

Most Indiana employers also require their personal trainers to have certification in CPR, first aid, and for AED devices.

Working as a Personal Trainer in Indiana

A sure way of knowing what employers expect of their personal trainers is to ask them. The answer to this question is often found in job ads seeking personal trainers. A recent survey of personal trainer job openings was conducted in March of 2015. Some are shown here to serve as examples of typical education and certification standards:

  • Community Health Network was interested in hiring a personal trainer who had at least a bachelor’s degree in an exercise or health-related field, with a preference given to applicants who also held a personal trainer certification.
  • A college in Mishawaka was advertising for a personal trainer who had at least a relevant bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree preferred.
  • Charter Fitness – a club with multiple locations in the region including in the cities of Merrillville, Mishawaka, Munster, Hobart, Schereville, and Valparaiso – was advertising for a personal trainer who held a nationally-recognized certification as well as CPR and AED qualifications.
  • Life Time Fitness, a club with several locations in the Indianapolis area, was looking to hire personal trainers who could meet these qualifications:
    • Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Sports Medicine, or a related field
    • At least one nationally-recognized personal trainer certification
    • 1-2 years of related job experience
    • 1 year of sales experience

Once you have achieved competitive qualifications you will be able to start responding to attractive job announcements throughout the state. The most common employers of personal trainers are fitness clubs and gyms.

Life Time Fitness provides a good example of what you can expect while working at one of these facilities. Life Time Fitness offers its members personal trainer-led group classes and individual sessions that might include:

  • Cardio workshops
  • Fitness seminar
  • Nutritional consultations
  • Kids fitness
  • Cycling/spinning classes
  • Personal training goals

Freelancing and Working as an Independent Personal Trainer in Indiana

As a qualified personal trainer you also have the option of developing your own base of clientele and working in a variety of settings. This is particularly noteworthy as the trend toward trainer-led exercise outside of the fitness club setting continues to grow. Indiana residents are fortunate to have many natural settings where they can get fit, and where personal trainers can promote health outdoors:

  • Hiking in Eagle Creek Park or Angel Mounds State Historic Site
  • Canoeing in Chain O’ Lakes State Park near Albion
  • Kayaking in Deam Lake State Recreation Area
  • Mountain biking in Blum Park near Westville
  • Cycling along the Cardinal Greenways near Muncie

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