How to Become a Fitness Trainer in South Dakota

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Urbanized life and sedentary workdays have led to health clubs and fitness becoming a growing trend in South Dakota according to Dakotafire, a community journalism project that reports on issues within the Dakotas.

Long winters in South Dakota make it especially hard to maintain a healthy level of physical activity. With temperatures often in the single digits and dark skies by 5 p.m, it is often difficult to exercise at all. This is where fitness centers and more specifically, personal trainers come into play. As a personal trainer you will help clients maintain their fitness goals year round. Fitness centers and gyms that offer personal training services were once only found in larger cities in the state, but in recent years they have been springing up in rural areas as well.

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Statistics published in the South Dakota Obesity Toolkit show that 65.7% of adults in the state are overweight. Personal trainers play an important role in combating obesity and leading clients to a healthier lifestyle. According to the 2012 Bipartisan Policy Center, 88% of what the public spends on being healthy goes to medical bills. As a personal trainer, you can help clients understand that a small investment in personal fitness coaching will result in spending a whole lot less on medical treatment while vastly improving their quality of life.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in South Dakota

There are many educational opportunities and certification programs available when it comes to developing the qualifications you need to become a personal trainer in South Carolina. You can choose to earn a degree in a relevant major on a college campus, at a technical school, or through online programs. You may then opt to earn national certification through workshops available locally or through online programs.

Formal Training and Education

Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a relevant area of study is foundational to meeting requirements for a job in one of South Dakota’s top gyms, specialty studios or large health clubs. More than this, it is foundational to being able to safely and effectively serve a diverse group of clients that will include everyone from young athletes to senior citizens looking to start their first structured exercise program. As a personal trainer, you will sit down with a client and evaluate their goals and abilities and then develop and implement specialized fitness routines custom tailored to their unique needs.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of these majors will prepare you to meet job requirements and serve clients as a knowledgeable trainer:

  • Exercise Science
    • Biomechanics
    • Exercise Physiology
    • Care & Prevention of Athletic Injuries
    • Principles of Strength & Conditioning
  • Personal Training
    • Anatomy & Physiology
    • Athletic Training
    • Nutrition
    • First Aid
    • Aerobics
  • Kinesiology
    • Introduction to Community & Public Health
    • Survey of Human Nutrition
    • Principles of Weight Management
    • Survey of Drugs and Health
    • Human Disease & Epidemiology
  • Sports Medicine
    • Sports Medicine Principles
    • Biomechanics
    • Exercise Physiology
    • Therapeutic Modalities
    • Injury Evaluation & Rehabilitation
  • Dietetics and Nutrition
    • Principles of Food Science
    • Life Cycle Nutrition
    • Nutrition Counseling and Education
    • Community Nutrition

National Certification Options

The key requirements to achieving national certification include:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • CPR/AED certification

Additional training for certificate exams is often obtained through online programs and in-person workshops provided by the certification institutes Training can range anywhere from a three day workshop to six months of exam preparation.

Examples of institutes that offer personal training certification include the following:

  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)
  • National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF)
  • International Sports & Fitness Trainers Association (ISFTA)
  • International Sports Science Association (ISSA)
  • American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA)
  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

Personal training certification can be obtained in a variety of specialty areas specific to the types of clients you will likely serve, and their specific needs. Specialty certification includes:

  • Senior Fitness
  • Youth Athletic Fitness
  • Pre/Postnatal Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Behavior Change
  • Weight Management
  • Orthopedic Exercise
  • Therapeutic Exercise

Working as a Personal Trainer in South Dakota

Regardless of whether you decide on general personal training or choose a specialty area, your basic responsibilities would generally include:

  • An understanding of human anatomy and physiology
  • An ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Being friendly, outgoing and well organized
  • The ability to assess clients physical capabilities
  • The ability to safely guide clients through a program you have designed for them

Although most trainers work in health clubs, specialty studios and gyms, employers can include hospitals, corporate gyms, universities, hotels and destinations resorts.

Examples of current job openings and requirements in South Dakota as of March, 2015 include the following:

  • At Hilton Hotels in Aberdeen you will be expected to be able to do the following to be considered for employment as a personal trainer:
    • Conduct fitness programs
    • Adhere to health and safety regulations
    • Conduct fitness assessments
    • Advise members on correct use of gym equipment

  • Sanford Health in Sioux Falls hires personal trainers to conduct Group Fitness classes for its members. The following are requirements for a position within this facility:
    • Motivate participants of any fitness level
    • Understand physiology and biomechanics
    • Establish and maintain effective working relationships
    • Communicate clearly
    • Operate stereo and microphone equipment
    • Adapt exercise instruction to all ages and fitness levels
    • CPR certification
    • National certification

Private fitness clubs like dFINE Private Fitness Club in Sioux Falls have fewer members, but personal trainers there give more personal attention to each client. Centers like this have a country club type atmosphere and generally pay a salary versus commission. These clubs generally expect trainers to have a relevant four-year degree due to the level of personalized instruction members expect.

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