What Are the Different Types of Exercise Specialist Jobs?

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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 07 January 2020
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Exercise specialist jobs and recreation-related careers are among the first to be considered by active people who love sports, exercise and movement. Careers in exercise and fitness are wonderful outlets for the energy and enthusiasm of those employed in this area; however, exercise specialist jobs also require more than physical fitness. Exercise specialists work with clients, individually or in classes, and must possess sufficient communication and people-skills to motivate and encourage their clients. Education regarding proper technique, nutrition or anatomy is important and therefore, teaching skills are often necessary. Exercise specialist jobs or careers include personal trainers, yoga instructors, exercise class instructors and sport-specific coaches.

All exercise specialist jobs require a high school diploma or a general education development (GED) certificate. Depending upon their specialty, the majority of those in exercise-related careers must also successfully complete online or in-person classes and take a certification examination administered by an accrediting institution. Critically, all exercise specialist jobs require a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification in case of an emergency. In the U.S. and Canada, most exercise and fitness instructors hold a certification from at least one of the three major certifying bodies as a fitness instructor. The majority also holds multiple diplomas and certifications available for different areas of specialization.


The most visible of exercise specialist jobs are those of class instructors. Aerobics classes, spin cycling or dance class instructors have all taken multiple classes under different instructors and completed some form of classroom or Internet instruction. Personal trainers hold at least one certification from one of the major accreditation institutions and many hold degrees in exercise science or kinesiology. Sports-specific coaches, such as baseball-pitching instructors, are the exception to the certification rule. While some sports-specific coaches hold certifications or degrees in the fitness field, the vast majority of their credentials come from experience as a professional athlete in that particular sport.

The certification and credentialing for exercise specialist jobs involving yoga and Pilates is more complex than most fitness jobs. Both forms of exercise require some sort of training, whether it is a weekend workshop or a years-long apprenticeship. In the West, professional organizations have begun to insist that credentialing for either of these two fields consist of a minimum of 200 hours of instruction. Yoga strongly follows the teacher-student tradition whereby any given yoga instructor is also a student of another, more advanced yoga teacher at the same time.


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