So you want to get into the fitness industry, but you have no background or experience? Well, that does make things a bit more challenging, but by no means is it impossible. As someone who when initially starting out had absolutely zero experience in the field, I feel that I have a somewhat different point of view than most people who took the more traditional route as far as getting a food hold is concerned. I’m nowhere near established or successful by any stretch of the imagination, but I hope that by speaking from my experience I can lend some advice to someone who wants to get involved but is put off by being from a completely different area of study.
1) Get Your Learn On!
Go to seminars.
Look for an internship in your area.
Investing in yourself is the name of the game in this industry, and with the invention of the internet it has never been easier to do so. With this still being such a relatively young field, if you’re not constantly reading and keeping up with whats going on, you’ll only continue to hurt yourself by falling behind your peers. The best part about not having any schooling or exercise science background is that it makes your task so very simple: read everything that you can get your hands on. Many coaches have a resource page on their website that can help point you in the right direction so you don’t just start grabbing random books and hoping for the best. Here are just a few:
Before you start shelling out tons of duckets, check out your local libraries to see if they have any of the books. I’ve found that the public libraries usually have one or two if you’re lucky, but if you’re a college student, or live in an area surrounded by colleges, the university libraries tend to be a gold mine for this kind of material. The best part is that even if you’re not a student, they can’t keep you from coming in and reading.
2) Soft Skills
I honestly believe that soft skills are the most critical piece of the entire puzzle. The fitness industry is a service industry in the truest sense of the word, no matter what your position in it. Even if you never train a soul and your only job is to write or blog about fitness, you still have the responsibility of connecting with your audience and giving them what they want. How can you do that if you’re not a people person?
I’d venture to say that these skills are more important than getting your anatomy down pat. Yes, anatomy is important as its the basis of everything that we do, but what goodwill that do if you suck at dealing with people and can’t convey anything that you’ve learned? There are enough successful trainers out there that you can piggyback off of knowledge wise so as to never have to come up with an original thought of your own . Is this optimal? Of course not, but I’m trying to highlight just how vital these skills are to your success. You can teach anyone who is willing to learn how to put together a proper training program, but you can’t teach someone how to be an outgoing, charismatic person who can get their clients excited about their potential and working towards it.
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Its one thing to say that you want it, but its another thing entirely to act like it. If you want to get involved, you’re going to have to go out of your way to show just how badly you want it. Think of it from the perspective of a potential employer – why should they take a risk on someone whose lack of experience could end up being a liability for their company or facility? When I was applying for an internship at Cressey Performance, I knew that I had to find a way to seperate myself from the hordes of other applicants. There was simply no way that I would be able to compete with everyone else based on credentials alone, so I had to step my game up. I got my hairs cut, hopped in the car and made the 13 hour drive from Michigan to Massachusetts for a one day seminar. Not only did I get the meet the Cressey Performance staff, but I was able to put a face with the application. I followed up with a thank you card, and I constantly e-mailed Pete (Vice President) about the status of the selection process. It wasn’t until a month into the actual internship that I found out it was my persistence alone that made them decide to take me on.
9 times out of 10 there is always a way in, regardless of your circumstances, so you just have to be willing to put in the sweat equity and keep searching for ways around the perceived obstacles.
Some folks seem to think that just because this is an industry based off the premise of sweat, awkward noises and funky smells that they don’t have to take it seriously. Welp, I have two words for you: womp womp!
Those people couldn’t be further from the truth. As with all industries, you’re only taken as seriously as you take yourself, and its hard to take you seriously if you show up to a job interview in typical bro atire – sleeveless shirt for the gun show, with the entire mid section missing to show off teh abzzz. Seriously though, dress like you have some sense. Also, and while this seems like it should go without saying I’ve seen it happen and thus it bears repeating – don’t drop F-bombs during the interview. It doesn’t make you look cool, and only solidifies your tool status.