Consider these stats: 90 percent of Americans know they should be more active, but only about 45 percent get regular exercise. That gap presents a massive opportunity, and employment in the fitness industry is expected to grow about 29 percent between 2008 and 2018. As the industry matures, “training is becoming more specialized, less formulaic, and more consumer-centric,” says Graham Melstrand, vice president of business development for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Experts anticipate growing demand for coaches who take a holistic approach, incorporating one-on-one training, nutrition, sleep, stress management, guided outdoor activities, and even psychotherapy.
ESSENTIAL SKILLS: The main requirement is a coaching certification through an organization endorsed by ACE or the American College of Sports Medicine. Many coaches also have degrees in exercise science, nutrition, or another related field. Extra training in yoga, Pilates, massage, or other therapies can help.
BREAKING IN: Many coaches start at a gym, then move into private practice. Increasingly, large corporations like Coca-Cola and Sherwin-Williams are hiring in-house wellness coaches to defray medical costs, using placement agencies like Wellness Coaches USA.