How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Kentucky

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Statistics released by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that more than 45 percent of Kentucky’s adult residents participate in at least moderate levels of daily physical activity, while 39 percent of high school students meet or exceed the nationally recommended level of physical activity.

As a personal trainer in Kentucky you’ll find clients young and old seeking your professional assistance. This means that one day you may be coaching a younger client on ways to prepare for the annual Ironman event in Louisville, while the next day you may be offering a senior citizen pointers on exercises designed to promote general health and wellness. Whether promoting weight loss through exercise for ordinary people looking to make good on their New Years’ resolutions, or helping athletes prepare for the Hillbilly 5k Footrace in Bardstown, a career in personal fitness promotion means helping people reach their own personal fitness goals.

As a personal trainer you can choose to work as part of a team at a local health club, or you may prefer to work as an independent trainer with your clients on-location doing activities like cycling on the Transamerica Bike Trail, hiking on the Sheltowee Trace National Recreational Trail, or leading a Pilates class in Bowling Green’s Carter Park.

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According to information released by Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the number of jobs in the occupational category that includes personal trainers is projected to grow by more than 31 percent between 2010 and 2020. That’s more than double the state’s average estimated job growth rate of 12.4 percent for that same period.

Qualifying to Become a Personal Trainer in Kentucky

Education is vital if you want to be a competitive personal trainer job candidate in Kentucky’s personal fitness industry. Some personal training certification agencies even require a college degree before you’ll be granted eligibility to apply, while many employers now require a college degree in addition to professional certification.

Traditional Personal Trainer Degree Programs

As a Kentucky resident you will find a variety of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs that are applicable to a career in personal fitness promotion. These programs are offered through colleges and universities throughout the state, as well as through online schools:

  • Nutrition and Dietetics – as part of this major you will take classes like:
    • Life stage nutrition
    • Nutritional medical therapy
    • Nutrition in the community
    • Biochemistry in the health sciences
  • Sports Medicine – the curriculum for this major will cover subjects including:
    • Female athlete special issues
    • Exercise as a prescription
    • Back pain and its treatments
    • Medicolegal aspects of sports medicine
    • Sports and medical illnesses
  • Kinesiology – for a degree in this area you will take courses such as:
    • Principles of human anatomy
    • Human wellness and nutrition
    • Psychological aspects of sports and physical education
    • Physiology of exercise
    • Athletic measurements and tests

This is by no means a comprehensive list of relevant majors.

It is likely you will apply your understanding of subjects like kinesiology, nutrition, and exercise science every day. Depending on your major, you may even work as a specialized fitness trainer in a particular area of focus.

Professional Organizations Offering Personal Trainer Certifications

As you develop your qualifications you will also want to consider a nationally-recognized personal trainer certification offered by any of the following agencies:

  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • 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 Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)
  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
  • International Fitness Association (IFA)
  • The Cooper Institute
  • Professional Personal Trainers Association (PROPTA)
  • National Personal Training Institute (NPTI)
  • Lifetime (LT) Academy

It’s a good idea to check with your top-three choices of employers to see if they require a particular personal trainer certification from any of these organizations. Employers will often prefer certain certifications to others. Also keep in mind that some of these certification agencies require that you first have a relevant college degree.

The Working Environment for Kentucky’s Personal Trainers

The sky is the limit when it comes to your options for working environments in Kentucky, although hang gliding with the Kentuckiana Soaring Club is not every personal trainer’s first choice for a workout.

It’s more likely you will work in a place like Healthpark, a fitness club located in Owensburo. This facility offers its members the benefit of one-on-one meetings with a team of personal trainers who will help clients achieve their personal fitness goals. This could be through supervised exercise regimens, dietary counseling, or group fitness programs like:

  • Cycling craze
  • Cardio challenge
  • Cycle to rock
  • Body flow
  • Heart moves
  • Zumba
  • Step and tone
  • Chair yoga
  • Fitness yoga
  • PiYo
  • Pilates bar conditioning

One of the best ways you can gain a sense of what personal fitness employers are looking for is to examine recent job ads. A survey completed in March of 2015 found the following vacancies and qualification requirements. These are shown as illustrative examples of what you can expect as you enter the personal trainer job market:

  • A Youfit branch in Lexington was searching for a personal trainer who had at least one nationally-recognized professional certification, with added consideration given to applicants with a related college degree.
  • A local university in Richmond was seeking a personal trainer for its campus recreation facility with both a current national personal trainer certification as well as CPR/AED certification.
  • A local university in Louisville placed an ad for a personal trainer to work in its Department of Campus Recreation. The qualification requirements for this position included having a nationally-recognized personal trainer certification as well as CPR and AED certification.
  • Healthpark in Owensburo was advertising for a personal trainer/exercise physiologist who had the following qualifications:
    • Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology, Exercise Science, Physical Education, or a related field
    • Personal trainer certification through an approved national organization
    • At least two years of related experience preferred

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