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How Is Your Career Shaping Up? Consider Online Fitness School

Do you love to stay in shape? Do you have the desire and ability to motivate others? If so, you may have a unique opportunity to apply your passion to a career in fitness.

Online fitness school may enable you to use skills you already have--namely, keeping yourself healthy and in shape--while adding the theoretical knowledge you may need to become a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, fitness director, and more.

Is an education really important for these careers? Yes, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In a 2010 survey, for the fourth consecutive year, the ACSM identified the predicted fitness trend as the importance of educated and experienced fitness professionals. As an increasing number of organizations offer health and fitness certifications, consumers are likely to choose professionals who have top credentials--credentials you can earn through online fitness schools.

The Birth of the Fitness Industry

While the fitness industry has come into its own only in the past 50 years, the U.S. has a long history of attempting to motivate citizens to get in shape. Thomas Jefferson called for "not less than two hours a day" for exercise, noting that "if the body is feeble, the mind will not be strong."

Nearly two centuries later, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, considered the leader of the modern fitness movement, introduced the idea of aerobics in the late 1960s. His research demonstrated the importance of fitness for preventing chronic diseases.

Today's Fitness Trends

Exercise scientist Len Kravitz notes that fitness levels have historically dropped as societies become enamored with wealth, prosperity, and self-entertainment. Fortunately for the technology-obsessed U.S., there's a growing trend toward personal fitness to offset the effects of a largely sedentary lifestyle.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects substantial employment growth for fitness workers--24 percent from 2010 to 2020. The BLS attributes this growth to the time and money people are increasingly allotting to personal fitness, as well as the number of businesses offering employees health and fitness benefits.

A Fitness Career: Getting There Through Online Fitness Schools

If you want to take advantage of a burgeoning job market, consider getting your education through an online fitness school. One of the key advantages of online fitness school programs is that you may pursue your studies when you have time and without having to travel.

Many online fitness school courses use textbooks and supplemental reading materials, as well as technology such as online discussions and videos to complement traditional instructional tools. And if you're concerned about getting a quality education, rest assured: A 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that on average, students performed as well or better in an online learning environment than in a traditional classroom setting.

Online Fitness School Degree Paths

Which are the best degrees for a career in fitness? The answer depends on your career goals. Online fitness schools offer certifications, associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and advanced degrees. While certifications are usually the minimum requirement for jobs in fitness, the BLS notes that more employers are looking for fitness workers with bachelor's degrees in health and fitness concentrations such as exercise science and physical recreation.

Alternatively, if you have certification but want to boost your credentials, fitness school classes online may enable you to add expertise in business or personnel management, exercise science, or other fitness-related topic to your resume.

For jobs in management, a bachelor's degree may be require, and you may be most competitive if you have some business classes under your belt. After you obtain a bachelor's degree, an advanced degree in business administration may open the many career opportunities.

Finding the Right Career Fit

Fitness workers hold jobs in health clubs, hospitals, yoga and spinning studios, resorts, universities, businesses, and peoples' homes. Fitness workers include:

  • Yoga instructors who travel to businesses to lead classes
  • Aerobics instructors who teach classes at health clubs
  • Personal trainers who work with individuals out of their homes
  • Health club directors who oversee employees, finances, and other business operations

Salaries in the field vary significantly, and may reflect part-time wages. According to the BLS, as of 2009, the mean annual wage of fitness workers was $35,340. Earnings were highest for those working in:

  • Educational support services: $54,840
  • Religious organizations: $53,140
  • Technical and trade schools: $49,410
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services: $45,350

A Fitness Career: Could It Be Your Path to Happiness?

Numerous polls and research show that satisfaction with one's career is integral to happiness in life. By making your passion for fitness a lifelong career, you may achieve the most important goal of your lifetime: personal contentment.