How to Become a Fitness Trainer in North Carolina

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North Carolina’s famous pork barbeque and bacon is undeniably tasty and definitely not for those on a diet. Every year the Lexington Barbeque Festival draws more than 100,000 hungry Americans from near and far. North Carolinians spend the remaining 364 days of the year eating healthy and staying fit thanks to help from personal trainers.

As a fitness trainer in North Carolina you will be supported by a citizenry who recognize the importance of your trade on a level that ranks first in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Western Central portion of North Carolina employs the highest amount of personal trainers of all rural areas in the country. This is in part to combat the side-effects state residents experience from barbeque festivals.

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Working as a personal trainer, you will find that your clients can come from all ages and walks of life. One moment you may be helping a middle-aged woman get in shape for a kayaking trip down the Eno River. The next moment you might be helping a young client rehabilitate from an injury as he prepared to try out for the Carolina Panthers.

Although North Carolina’s annual sporting events don’t draw crowds as large as Lexington’s annual barbeque festival, you will still find there are still plenty of residents who need your help to prepare for activities like:

  • Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Dixie Divas Triathlon near Greensboro in Gibsonville
  • Ski races at Cataloochee Ski Area
  • French Board Classique canoe race near Asheville

Whether you want to work in a gym in Durham or teach yoga in Asheville’s Carrier Park, you will need the appropriate skills and qualifications to be a successful personal trainer in North Carolina. Competitive qualifications start with a professional certification and a college degree in a field related to personal training.

Personal Trainer Qualifications in North Carolina

The majority of North Carolina’s employers prefer that you have either a degree in a field that is related to personal training or a nationally-recognized certification. Many employers prefer that you have both of these qualifications.

Traditional Higher Education for Personal Trainers

Many of North Carolina’s colleges and universities offer associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs that are highly relevant to the field of personal training. Pertinent classes are often offered online to ensure you can maintain your busy schedule keeping yourself and your clientele fit.

Some of the relevant degree programs offered in North Carolina include:

  • Degree in Dietetics – the curriculum for this program will involve taking classes like:
    • Intermediate and advanced nutrition
    • Biochemistry of nutrition
    • Community nutrition
    • Fitness development
  • Degree in Exercise Science – classes that are part of this degree include:
    • Foundation and theory of exercise physiology
    • Exercise testing
    • Biomechanics
    • Lifetime weight management
    • Pharmacology for the physically active
  • BS in Kinesiology, with a concentration in subjects like:
    • Sports medicine
    • Fitness
    • Physical and health education

For a BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in fitness you will take courses like:

  • Motor skill development
  • Clinical human anatomy
  • Analysis and observation of movement
  • Prevention and care of injuries
  • Fitness leadership

Nationally Recognized Personal Trainer Certifications

In addition to a traditional education that relates to personal training you may also be required by your employer to earn a nationally-recognized certification. Check with any potential employers about which certifications they prefer. The list of personal trainer certifications includes those sponsored by the following organizations:

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

Each certification has its own requirements. To be eligible for some you must already have completed a degree in a field related to personal training.

Starting a Career as a Personal Trainer in North Carolina

Working as a personal trainer in North Carolina offers you many different choices for working environments. Health clubs and fitness centers are the most common place of work for professionals in your field. An example of this type of environment is Retro Fitness in Raleigh. At Retro you and your colleagues will work in a supportive environment to help your clients achieve their own personal fitness goals. This can include group activities like yoga, Pilates, zumba, and cycling.

A recent March 2015 survey of vacant personal trainer jobs in North Carolina revealed the following employers and qualifications. These are some examples of what you can expect as you start your job search:

  • A Life Time Fitness branch in Cary was advertising for a personal trainer who had a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Sports Medicine, or another related field, plus at least one nationally-recognized professional certification.
  • Effective Fitness Training in Durham was searching for a qualified personal trainer who had a nationally-recognized certification as well as CPR and AED certification.
  • CaroMont Health and Fitness in Gastonia was looking for a personal trainer who had a college degree in an exercise-related field and/or a professional certification issued by an organization such as ACE, NSCA, ACSM, or NASM.
  • Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness in Raleigh was searching for a personal trainer with a professional certification, preferable from the ACSM, NASM, or NSCA.

As a skilled and qualified professional in your field you are not strictly confined to fitness centers. Many personal trainers work one-on-one with their clients participating in activities like:

  • Cycling in the Pisgah National Forest
  • Hiking along the Appalachian Trail
  • Kayaking in the surf along Emerald Isle Beach
  • Snowshoeing on Sugar Mountain
  • Cross country skiing around Blowing Rock

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