Fitness Consultancy: Rising demand for fitness experts

Whether its weight loss or body toning for men and women, the demand for fitness professionals is all set to increase exponentially.

With gymnasia and healthclubs mushrooming all over the country and physical fitness becoming an obsession with a growing number of middle class urbanites, the demand for qualified aerobic instructors, gym managers, and personal trainers is exploding. Suddenly new career building opportunities in the physical fitness and related businesses are rapidly multiplying.

As technology improves business productivity and reduces manual labour, it also reduces physical activity. With the emergence of computers, globally networked cell phones and artificial intelligence, the casualty could be the most superior machine of them all — the human body.

A fitness consultant is an individual who is well-versed with the human anatomy and different aspects of muscle strength and tone. A professional fitness consultant (FC) or trainer must assess his clients and design appropriate fitness programmes for them. This is a complex task because a consultant may have to deal with children, adults, or senior citizens and design exercise programmes for them both from aerobics and weight training points of view, dietary guidelines inclusive. Periodic follow-ups with clients, establishing communication lines and long-term adherence to exercise is the reward of an FC or trainer. The Sports Authority of India, Netaji Subhash National Institute for Sports, Patiala, offers diploma programmes for physical trainers at its institutes in Patiala, Bangalore, Kolkata, Gandhigram, Gwalior, and Thiruvananthapuram. The University of Mumbai also offers physical training courses.

Given the scarcity of formal study programmes in this field, certification can be acquired from the following institutions:

  • Golds Gym University (GGU)
  • Leena Mogres Fitness Academy
  • K-11 Fitness Academy (Kaizad Kapadia)
  • Talwalkars Fitness Academy
  • Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences (IGIPESS), New Delhi
  • Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education, Kerela
  • GFFI Fitness Academy, New Delhi

In India, two certifications are offered by GGU — personal trainer and trainer for special needs (diabetes, arthritis, hypertension etc).

Fitness academies conduct theory as well as practical exams. After being certified in India, trainers have the option of being certified by the American Council of Exercise (ACE). ACE regularly stages examinations in Mumbai for which candidates can register on their website. ACE also offers group fitness instructor, clinical exercise specialist, lifestyle and weight management, and sports and nutrition expert certification. ACE is one of the most respected international bodies in the field of exercise and physical fitness. The exam is conducted on the same day in countries around the world.

Following certification by ACE, opportunities to work abroad open up as well. For instance, as Golds gym has an international chain of fitness centres, it also offers transfers to suitable applicants.

The basic qualification required for a certification is a class X or class XII school leaving certification. There is no specific body or ideal muscle mass that makes one eligible for certification. However, gyms do insist on physically fit floor instructors and trainers.

With the number of jobs in this field growing at a faster pace than personnel availability, you dont need to look for a job; while doing a fitness certification course youll probably be offered employment. A certified floor trainer starts off with a pay package of Rs.6,000 per month rising to Rs.7,000–7,500 with experience. Depending on the number and social profile of clients and their time schedules, personal trainers can easily earn between Rs.15,000–20,000 a month. With additional certification and specific job profiles, monetary rewards get better. International certifications may fetch a job abroad where possibilites for fitness trainers are infinite. If you work in this field for even a year and develop a good network with other professionals in related fields, you may be soon ready to start your own gym. Besides being a personal trainer there are other options like diversifying into the manufacturing of fitness equipment.

FITNESS REVOLUTION. One of the pioneers of the physical fitness revolution who has imported world-class standards into India, Mumbai-based Asha Sherlekar set up the National Institute of Aerobics (NIA) in Mumbai in 1986 in partnership with Talwalkars, the well-known gymnasia and health care company. NIA is associated with Cooper Clinic named after Kenneth Cooper (the founder of aerobics), International Dancing Exercise Association (IDEA), and Aerobic and Fitness Association of America among others. We have access to the latest information and research data at NIA. Therefore, we offer physical training programmes which are safe and effective,” says Sherlekar.

A graduate in architecture, Sherlekar worked in the US from 1970 to 1985 as a professional architect and as a part-time trainer in a health club. I landed in the physical fitness business by accident. During my early years in the US, I had health problems so I joined a health club. I felt so good and fit that I signed up for several fitness programmes and started teaching part-time as a fitness — particularly aerobics — professional. In 1986 when I came back to India, I realised I had to choose between architecture and the healthcare industry. I opted for the latter as physical fitness had become a passion with me. I was at the right time in the right place as Talwalkars was looking for someone to conduct its aerobics class. I helped them in starting NIA and introduced the concept of unisex aerobic classes,” recalls Sherlekar.

Sherlekar, who started with a class of 15 students, today trains thousands of fitness enthusiasts. In collaboration with Talwalkars, she and her husband (a Ph D in business administration from the US whos also fully into the fitness business) run three large, well-equipped gyms in Pune. Sherlekar also owns a small gym at Dadar, Mumbai.

Sherlekar is gung-ho about the Talwalkars Fitness Academy with which shes actively involved. The academy offers several certificate courses of three months duration conducted by top fitness professionals in the country. Also on the faculty are nutritionists, biochemists and other experts. Not a few of our students are aspiring fitness professionals who will go on to work as personal trainers or as supervisors or managers in health clubs and gyms. For housewives interested in working part-time, this is an ideal career if they have a passion for fitness. After a few years, qualified fitness professionals can set up their own gyms or health clubs

As a parting shot, Sherlekar who gave up a successful architects practice of 26 years for this career asks, After all which profession pays you for staying fit, being the best that you can be, meeting new people and guiding others to a better life?”

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