Careers in Sports and Wellness
Prepare for a Career in one of the Fastest Growing Industries
The Fitness & Wellness Leadership major prepares you to work in one of the fastest growing segments of the service industries. The US Labor Department of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections expects an increase of 27 percent or more in this field from 2004-2014.
You will be able to fill positions in hospital wellness centers, medically-based fitness facilities, sports performance facilities, public and privately owned health clubs, corporate fitness centers, colleges and universities, YMCAs/JCCs, and recreational/athletic sites as directors, fitness managers, supervisors, exercise leaders, elite personal trainers, and sports performance coaches.
In addition, you will be prepared to enter graduate school programs in exercise science, establish a business plan to start your own fitness business, and develop a career path to become a future educator working in a college or university setting.
Personal Fitness Training
As the public becomes increasingly health-conscious, the need for qualified and educated personal trainers continues to grow. If you love working with people and helping them become their best, consider a career in personal training!
Personal fitness trainers train individual clients or small groups (2 to 4) on proper methods of exercising that includes cardiovascular, flexibility, and resistance/strength training in order to reach fitness goals.
Personal trainers work with clients, evaluate their physical fitness level, medical/health history, and help them develop and achieve fitness goals. By demonstrating different exercises, they help their clients learn proper exercise techniques and assess progress by maintaining records of each exercise session. In addition, the personal trainer implements a medically-based fitness model that incorporates ACSM® Risk Stratification process to screen clients before starting exercise programs.
Athletic and Sports Performance Specialist/Coach
Amateur and professional athletes at all levels-from elementary school teams to the National Football League-need the assistance of Athletic and Sport Performance Specialists/Coaches to make them excel at their sports.
The athletic and sports performance specialist/coach designs athletic conditioning and sports specific exercise programs for athletes of all abilities, levels, and ages. They implement training techniques and programs to help athletes expand the functional capacity of their bodies and enhance sport-specific performance-while remaining strong and free from injuries.
Depending on the clients needs, that may include exercise movements focusing on power, strength, speed, quickness, coordination, agility, flexibility, local muscular endurance, and cardiovascular aerobic capacity. In addition, sport performance specialists learn how to periodize the training program precisely for peak performance at critical points in the competitive season and design safe and effective reconditioning regimens to bring an athlete back from injury in partnership with certified athletic trainers and physical therapists.
Group Excercise Instruction
Group Exercise Instructor
Group exercise instructors teach group exercise programs in a health/fitness facility setting. They teach classes such as muscle conditioning, Pilates, stretching/flexibility, yoga, karate, boxing, weightlifting, hip-hop, sports performance, functional training, aquatic training, spinning, and aerobic exercise
Group coordinators plan, promote, coordinate and manage group exercise programs in health and fitness facilities. Coordinators manage/hire group exercise instructors and train them on facility procedures, instructions, and guidelines. In addition, they develop budgets, administer payroll, acquire equipment/programs, and create business plans.
Program Director/Group Exercise Supervisor
Program directors and group exercise supervisors manage and promote effective and well-balanced group exercise programs in multiple health and fitness facilities. They are responsible for the hiring, training, and education of group coordinators.
Fitness manager/directors manage fitness centers and teams of personal fitness trainers/fitness professionals that include the management of staff, training/education, budgets/business planning, fitness systems, equipment acquisitions, career development programs for staff, and public wellness education programs.
This position typically requires a bachelor’s degree or higher. These professionals usually have as much or more knowledge of business management as they do fitness. A great combination is a degree that incorporates fitness principles, exercise science, and business concepts within the degree program. A fitness manager that holds both a degree and a national personal training certification (example: ACSM® Personal Trainer Certification) builds credibility with the staff and helps upper management build professional and required academic standards for entrance into the fitness field.
Regional managers direct multi-facility operations including training and education of staff, payroll, budgets, facility staffing, human resources, retail sales, club maintenance, and equipment acquisitions. They also work with facility fitness managers, facility general managers/operations managers, and report to the president, owner, or board of directors.
Health Club Management
Assistant General Manager/Operations Manager
Assistant general managers and operations managers assist general managers in promoting customer service and quality of the membership. In addition, they assist the general managers in the oversight of facility operations and departments that includes fitness, membership sales, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, and other membership programs and services.
General managers guide facility operations and ensure the company’s business plan is being implemented. The general manager has direct oversight of facility operations and departments that include fitness, membership sales, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, and other membership programs and other services.
Regional managers oversee multi-facility operations that include payroll, club management, staffing, training, human resources, and sales. They work directly with facility general managers/operations managers and report to the president, owner, or board of directors.
Fitness Business Owner
To establish your own business in the fitness industry and to take the initiative to create a successful business venture, be the first in taking steps towards realizing an opportunity to do something that is worthwhile and that you enjoy.
Personal Training Studio Owner
Own and manage your own personal training studio. Personal training studios typically do not sell memberships, but may do so on a very limited basis to personal training clients. Personal training studios are usually below 5,000 total square feet.
Studio owners need to manage all business aspects of the facility that includes budgets/business planning, operations, marketing, management of staff, training/education, fitness systems, equipment acquisitions, career development programs for staff, and public wellness education programs.
Health Club/Fitness Facility Owner
Own and manage your own health club or fitness facility. Health Clubs/Fitness Facilities sell memberships and offer services that may include the following: fitness programming, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, kid’s camps, and other membership programs, amenities, and other services. Health Clubs/Fitness Facilities can range from 5,000 to 300,000 total square feet.
Fitness Franchise/License Owner
You may want to purchase a fitness franchise that has a proven system to follow that produces results or you may simply want a turnkey business model to own and manage. With a franchise or licensed program, you can purchase a franchise or license from one of several organizations that offer them. In most cases, these agreements require an upfront fee (which ranges from $7,500 to $30,000), and a monthly fee that is either a flat fixed amount or a percentage of the revenues (typically 4 to 8 percent of program revenues) generated from the program. In addition, there are, in many cases, additional costs for equipment.
As with any franchised or licensed program, you’ll need to determine whether the strength of the brand, the training provided by the parent company and the marketing support are worth the initial and ongoing investment. Examples of fitness franchises include Curves, Miracle Fitness, Fitness Together, Velocity Sports, Parisi Speed School, Frappier Acceleration Sports Training, and Centers for Athletic Performance (CAP).
SUNY Plattsburgh Career Development Center
Our Career Development Center provides services, resources, and programs designed to help students and alumni to better understand the career development process, and to enhance their professional preparation and employability.
If you would like more information about the sports and wellness program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact
Dr. Vincent Carey, Chair
Office: 301 Memorial Hall
Phone: (518) 564-4338
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Dr. Werner W.K. Hoeger is a full-time professor and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Boise State University. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and is the recipient of the first ever 2004 Presidential Award for Research and Scholarship in the College of Education at Boise State University. Dr. Hoeger uses his knowledge and experiences to write engaging, informative books that thoroughly address today’s fitness and wellness issues in a format accessible to students. He has written several textbooks for Thomson Wadsworth, including LIFETIME PHYSICAL FITNESS AND WELLNESS, Ninth Edition; FITNESS AND WELLNESS, Seventh Edition; PRINCIPLES AND LABS FOR FITNESS AND WELLNESS, Eighth Edition; PRINCIPLES AND LABS FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS, Fifth Edition; WELLNESS: GUIDELINES FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, Fourth Edition; and WATER AEROBICS FOR FITNESS AND WELLNESS, Third Edition (with Terry-Ann Spitzer Gibson). He was the first author to write a college fitness textbook that incorporated the ‘wellness’ concept and introduced the principle that to truly improve fitness, health, and achieve wellness, a person needed to go beyond the basic health-related components of physical fitness. As an innovator in the field, Dr. Hoeger has developed many fitness and wellness assessment tools, including fitness tests such as the modified sit and reach, total body rotation, shoulder rotation, muscular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and soda pop coordination tests. Proving that he ‘practices what he preaches,’ at 48, he was the oldest male competitor in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. He raced in the sport of luge along with his 17-year-old son Christopher. This was the first time in Winter Olympics history that father and son competed in the same event.
Sharon A. Hoeger is Vice President of Fitness & Wellness, Inc. in Boise, Idaho and holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brigham Young University. As co-author of PRINCIPLES AND LABS FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS, 10th Edition and four other Cengage texts, Ms. Hoeger is responsible for researching the most current scientific information for each revision, as well as developing the interactive software that accompanies all of the Hoeger fitness and wellness textbooks–innovations that have set the standard for fitness and wellness software today. The Hoeger husband-and-wife team has been jogging and strength training together for more than 35 years!
PRINCIPLES AND LABS FOR FITNESS AND WELLNESS, 13th Edition challenges students to meet their personal fitness and wellness goals, and perhaps teach others to do the same. Fully updated by fitness experts Hoeger and Hoeger, this text emphasizes behavior modification through sensible approaches and provides a strong focus on the practical ways students can incorporate changes into in their daily lives. Chapters are written in a student-friendly tone with supporting features such as My Profile, Behavior Modification Planning, and ‘FAQs,’ all designed to highlight important practices. PRINCIPLES AND LABS FOR FITNESS AND WELLNESS, 13th Edition also offers interactive learning tools such as exercise videos, online labs, and self-assessments that bring topics to life and help students maintain their new healthy lifestyles.
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If you’ve got a passion for all things health and fitness, it’s a given you’ve fantasized at least once about ditching your corporate gig for a career in the booming wellness industry. Whether you’ve looked into turning your passion for yoga into a full-time career, considered heading back to school to study nutrition, or want to launch a health-food startup, it turns out there’s more than one way to get your foot in the door.
Here, five accomplished industry pros dish on what their work entails on a daily basis, how they achieved success, and how you can follow their lead to land that dream job.
Describe an average day at work.
I could be testing recipes for a new book, doing a presentation in front of hundreds of people, creating content in my home office, traveling to New York to do the ‘Today Show’ or seeing clients in my downtown office.
What made you get into the business?
In college, I heard on TV that you should do for a career what you do in your spare time. I loved testing recipes, reading health magazines, and hanging out at [health food stores.]
What did you study?
I got my degree in nutrition and dietetics and finished a nine month internship to take the RD exam. To keep my RD credentials, I need 75 hours of continuing education every five years.
What tips would you give anyone wanting to do what you do ?
Go for it-but have patience and persistence. If there’s some aspect of nutrition you want to be involved in, don’t be afraid to do it on a small scale and intern to learn the skill. Over time, opportunities find people who are consistently doing work with honest passion and enthusiasm.
What’s the best part of your job?
There’s so much variety, so when you get tired of doing one thing, you can start trying another! There’s never a dull moment.
What’s the worst?
I got totally burned out about three years ago, and I started feeling that [in order] to stay relevant with so many others in the nutrition field, I had to just keep doing more, more, more. I got a coach who helped me realize that it isn’t just about accomplishments and moving ahead, but rather it’s about enjoying my work every day and enjoying the process. Now, I slow down and enjoy my daily tasks, and the quality of my work has improved drastically with my new secret ingredient: Joy.
If you weren’t in this job, what would you be doing?
Nothing. This is my dream job and I was born to do it. There are so many paths to take a career in nutrition that I’ll never get bored.
Activewear Designer and Lorna Jane Founder, Lorna Jane Clarkson
Describe an average day at work.
I rise early, stretch, exercise, body brush, and shower. Then I have a healthy breakfast and catch up on the news, emails, and any other pressing business and personal matters. Once I am in the office, I usually spend the first few hours with my design team fitting our latest collections, selecting new fabrics, and running through upcoming trends and inspiration (we develop 70-100 new styles every single month at Lorna Jane). I then usually have back-to-back meetings.
I am very intentional about finding time to sit down and enjoy my lunch at some point in the middle of my day. I usually wrap up at the office around 6:00 p.m. and head home. Before settling in, I first love to unwind by going on a walk with my husband and my dog Roger. I then make dinner and finish the day with some time spent reading a good book and sometimes maybe even a little dose of reality TV, which is admittedly my guilty pleasure.
How did you come to be doing this job?
Lorna Jane was born out of the fitness boom in the ’80s. I, of course, was completely hooked and had decided to take a fitness leader course in order to become an aerobics instructor. I had started teaching classes in the evenings after work (at the time I was a full-time dental therapist) and I found that I really struggled to find activewear that made me feel good and was a reflection of my personality. Being a lover of fashion, I took matters into my own hands and started designing my own activewear-it was fashionable and functional. The ladies in my classes loved my designs and asked me to make some for them which I was only too happy to do. The orders flooded in and the rest is history! It’s been 26 years and we now have over 200 stores in 54 countries.
What tips would you give anyone wanting to do what you do for a living?
Life’s too short to spend time doing something that doesn’t matter to you. Find your purpose, your reason to exist, and point your life in that direction. Also, there is no such thing as perfect-there’s no perfect time or perfect business plan. If you wait for perfect, you may miss the opportunity. Simply put one foot in front of the other, throw away any excuses and get started.
What is the best thing about your job?
Hands down, the best part of my job is inspiring women across the globe to embrace active living to pursue healthier, happier lives. I am truly honored to be able to encourage women, support women, and inspire women through Lorna Jane and our philosophy.
What is the worst thing about your job?
Nothing! If I didn’t truly love what I was doing, I wouldn’t still be doing it after 26 years.
If you weren’t in this job, what would you be doing?
I will advocate active living for as long as I possibly can. It isn’t just a job for me and, frankly, there isn’t anything I would rather spend my time doing.
A photo posted by Andrea Rogers (@andreaxtendbarre) on
Founder and Instructor of Xtend Barre, Andrea Rogers
Describe an average day at work.
My day begins with teaching a 9:30am signature Xtend Barre class at our corporate Boca Raton, Florida, studio. Following class I spend time chatting with my clients, connecting with them on their goals and working to create strong relationships within our Xtend Barre community. I then head to the back corporate office to work with my team on the day to day operations of the Xtend Barre franchise business.
What made you get into the business?
As a professional dancer and choreographer, I was first introduced to Pilates for its therapeutic benefits, and became a certified Pilates trainer. In an effort to offer clients variety, fun and increase the fitness benefits, I created a fusion of core dance and Pilates fundamentals, and Xtend Barre was born.