How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Missouri

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As a personal trainer in Missouri, you’ll channel your enthusiasm and motivational skills to help the state’s outdoor enthusiasts prepare for their next weekend adventure. This might mean helping them develop the core strength necessary to kayak the Ozarks, or the stamina needed to bike the 240-mile Katy Trail.

However, with 30.4 percent of Missouri’s adult population being classified as obese, and less than half engaging in regular physical activity on a weekly basis, according to findings released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your clients will no doubt also include those struggling with weight loss and looking for help. While the outdoor community will provide ample professional opportunities for you as a trainer, much of your time will be spent helping to educate novices on the principles of fitness and how to make healthier lifestyle choices.

In almost all cases, working as a personal trainer means catering to the needs of fitness fanatics and couch potatoes alike. Whether you’re in a college town like Springfield, or the urban center of St. Louis, you’ll find no shortage of gyms, boutique studios and fitness centers where you can empower clients while introducing them to the joys of physical fitness.

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Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer in Missouri

If you’re looking to pursue your education as a trainer in the state of Missouri, you have an array of options ranging from academic programs to a variety of accredited certification processes.

Keep your own personal professional goals in mind as you begin taking steps to further your education and experience. For example, running your own fitness center with a staff of trainers may require a distinctly different education than building a client base while working in established gyms in a freelance capacity.

Degree Options for Personal Trainers in Missouri

Any higher education is going to set you apart when looking for a job as a personal trainer. Employers value a specialized degree in a major related to personal training as much as relevant experience, and lucky for you there are a variety of different programs offered at Missouri’s colleges and universities.

Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in these majors would serve you well by teaching you how to assess your clients’ level of fitness, design a program custom tailored to their needs, and safely guide them through a regimented routine:

  • Exercise Science: Personal Training
  • Nutrition
  • Physical Therapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Physical Education

Personal Trainer Certifications for Missouri Residents

While a degree will truly set you apart from your competition, most employers will require a personal trainer certification through an accredited organization as a minimum requirement.

You’ll find that almost every certification program requires a CPR and AED certification that must be maintained, and all require you to be at least 18 years of age. While searching for an organization that meets your needs, you can get a CPR or AED certification through community programs or the Red Cross.

Accredited organizations and their membership requirements include:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM)
    • Recertification every two years-99 dollar fee (299 one time for life)
    • 20 CEC’s (continued education credits) every 2 years
  • American College of Sports Medicine(ACSM)
    • Requires high school diploma or GED
    • Recertification every three years -30 dollar fee
    • 45 CEC’s every three years
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA):
    • Requires high school diploma or GED
    • Recertification every two years-50 dollar fee
    • 20 CEC’s every two years
  • American Council on Exercise(ACE)
    • Recertification every two years-129 dollar fee
    • 20 CEC’s
    • Speciality Certifications
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
    • Requires high school diploma or GED
    • Recertification every two years. 75 dollar fee
    • 20 CEC’s

These are among the specialty certifications available through these organizations:

  • Group Exercise Instructor
  • Health Fitness Specialist
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Physical Activity in Public Health
  • Cancer Exercise Trainer
  • Fitness Nutrition
  • Mind-Body
  • Mixed Martial Arts

What Missouri’s Fitness Centers and Health Clubs are Looking for in a Trainer

Here are a few examples of current job postings shown for illustrative purposes in order to give you an idea of what employers are looking for (2015):

  • 24 Hour Fitness in Kansas City requires a Degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Fitness, a related field, or an approved personal trainer certification for their trainers. Personal training experience is not required, however at least one year of either sales or training experience is preferred.
  • Prime, a truck driving company in Springfield, is looking for a certified personal trainer to help staff their private fitness center. Alongside an approved personal trainer certification, they prefer a degree, though the major is unspecified. Computer skills are also strongly desired.
  • The YMCA of greater St. Louis is looking for a Health & Wellness director to coordinate programs and supervise staff. This position would involve taking on a variety of responsibilities ranging from internal staff assistance to acting as a representative to the community. They require a degree in exercise science/physiology, a related field, or equivalent experience as well as a variety of courses that can be taken at the YMCA.

As an educated and certified personal trainer, you will have a variety of options available to you. These three postings each represent a distinctly different set of responsibilities using slight variations of the same skill set, illustrating the diversity of options available to you while pursuing a career in personal training and fitness. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the employment options available to you in Missouri.

One Trainer’s Story

Craig Miller, a personal trainer at St. Louis Fitness Club, has a degree in Christian Education Ministries. Prior to working at St. Louis Fitness Club, he opened Miller Fitness Studios, later selling the business to pursue a degree at Covenant Theological Seminary. He continues to work at St. Louis Fitness Club while pursuing his higher education, and maintains a certification as a Power Plate Trainer and Hoffacker certified conditioning specialist.

Craigs degree might not have much to do with physical fitness, but his situation isn’t necessarily unique. You will find while applying that life experience may outweigh a degree program if it prepares you for interacting with your clientele and meets the particular needs of your potential employer.

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