How to Become a Fitness Trainer in New Jersey

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The value of fitness trainers in New Jersey is evident in the salaries they earn. In fact, according to the US Department of Labor, New Jersey’s personal trainers earn some of the highest paychecks in the nation, behind only New York and California.

Thanks to New Jersey’s prime Eastern seaboard location, the diverse fitness culture here is based as much on looking good on the Shore as it is on being in shape for sports and outdoor recreation. This helps make personal training here a popular commodity.

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So whether you are preparing your clients to surf the Jersey Shore, hike the famed Stairway to Heaven trail in the Appalachians, tackle the New Jersey Marathon in Oceanport, or simply fit into their skinny jeans, you know your expertise, knowledge, and passion for fitness are sure to be appreciated.

Qualifying to Become a Personal Trainer in New Jersey

If you want to begin enjoying a steady income for doing what you already love, you must become qualified. In New Jersey, education and training are critical prerequisites for landing a job and earning a solid reputation in the profession.

Thanks to the many on-site and online programs in this field, you have plenty of options available to you when it comes to earning a relevant degree.

Degree Programs in Personal Training

Aspiring personal trainers tend to complete associates and bachelor’s degrees in closely related subjects like:

  • Kinesiology
  • Fitness management
  • Sports medicine
  • Exercise science
  • Exercise physiology

Many schools offer online options designed to accommodate busy professionals with limited time. These programs, which are available at the associate, bachelor, and graduate degree levels, are designed to provide you with a solid foundation in the science of health and physical exercise.

For example, a degree in exercise science often includes coursework in the following topics:

  • Foundations of health and exercise
  • Anatomy and kinesiology
  • Health and wellness issues
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise physiology
  • Guidelines for allied health professionals

Most degree programs culminate in an internship, which allows you to gain valuable practical experience by working alongside an experienced personal trainer in a real world setting. In addition to providing you with knowledge in the science of human movement and how the human body responds to physical exercise, many programs also include basic coursework in business and management, thereby preparing you to build your own personal training business or manage a fitness studio or gym.

Professional Certification Programs in Personal Training

Professional certification in personal training, although voluntary, is commonplace, as it allows dedicated personal training professionals to set themselves apart from others in the industry who practice personal training but lack the proper credentials. While some personal trainers choose to pursue professional certification in addition to their post-secondary degree, others choose to complete a professional certification program in lieu of a college degree.

There are a large number of certifying bodies that offer certification programs in personal training, so choosing the right one may prove to be challenging.

It is often best to narrow your options down to those that are accredited by a national accrediting body, such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It is also a good idea to inquire with local health clubs about preferred professional certification. Finally, you should find a certification program that is focused on your particular areas of interest in personal training. A number of certification organizations offer specialty certification in areas such as yoga, Pilates, and strength training, among many others.

Some of the largest and most recognized professional certification organizations for personal trainers include:

  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

In general, a professional certification program in personal training includes a course of study, which is often offered either online or on-site, followed by the completion of an examination. A number of certification organizations offer intensive workshops that last a few days, while others provide students with the option of completing a self-paced study program at home.

Self-study programs often include DVDs, streaming video lectures, and textbooks that guide students through the curriculum.

Certification programs in personal training vary according to program focus, personal training specialty, and curriculum. However, the majority of programs include study in the following areas:

  • Understanding wellness
  • Muscle strength and endurance
  • Health screening
  • Exercise physiology
  • Cardio programming
  • Fitness assessment
  • Nutrition and weight management

Starting your Career as a Personal Trainer in New Jersey

Recent job postings for personal trainers in New Jersey reveal much about expected qualifications. For example, a retro fitness gym in Moorestown is seeking a certified personal trainer who is responsible for:

  • Designing innovative and cutting-edge personal fitness programs
  • Modifying nutritional requirements based on clients’ individual needs
  • Conducting fitness consultations and assessments
  • Monitoring and educating clients during personal training sessions

Candidates for this personal training position must possess:

  • A currently nationally recognized fitness certification
  • Current CPR/AED certification
  • 2-4 years of college

Another personal trainer job posting for a position in Fort Lee requires candidates to possess:

  • An acceptable national certification or a degree in exercise science, physical education, or kinesiology
  • Excellent interpersonal and customer services skills
  • Strong communication skills

A number of other job postings in areas such as Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson all require candidates to possess a fitness-related national certification. Many also prefer a degree in exercise science or a related field.

Just a sampling of some of the large fitness centers/gyms in New Jersey where you can begin your personal training career include:

  • NJ Fitness Factory, Montclair
  • Body & Soul Core Fitness, Cedar Grove
  • Gymkata Personal Training, Robbinsville
  • Kinetics Personal Training and Group Fitness, Highland Park

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