What is a Fitness Professional?
In a nutshell, professionalism is the image that your project to the public, and that image has many sub-parts. Your appearance, grooming, behavior, mannerisms and likability are all important factors that contribute to your professional image. But it is not just your superficial attributes that single you out as a true professional. In an article for the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, Peter Twist, president and CEO of Twist Conditioning, offers some insight into the less overt components of fitness professionalism. He identifies scope of knowledge, commitment to lifelong learning, core values like integrity and ethics, a confident but respectful attitude, and good business savvy as some of the markers of a dedicated fitness professional.
Our Industry and Professionalism
Maintaining your credentials by pursing continuing education and professional development are fundamental to professionalism in the fitness industry. Clients count on your knowledge and expertise to help them reach their goals without injury. In an industry where sweating is part of your job description, you may find it challenging to find a balance between professional appearance and job performance. Good personal hygiene, clean and modest clothing in good condition, clean professional footwear, and neatly groomed hair all serve to offset the rigors of what is a highly physical job.
It’s a People Business
The focused and personal nature of training often leads to a level of social intimacy between you and your clients that can easily erode your professional boundaries. The finesse of preserving the fine line between your personal and professional life is an essential skill for a fitness professional. Maintaining confidentiality with what your clients tell you, while refraining from oversharing about your own personal life, will help to keep your professional parameters intact. Using discretion when communicating is also key. Choose your words wisely, concretely conveying what you mean. Do not use profanity or colloquial language while interacting with clients. Use correct grammar, enunciate your words, and make good eye contact when speaking to others.
It’s a Great Career!
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a novice, the fitness industry promises increasing opportunities for professional growth and career success. However, in order to gain and keep the respect of the public, we must all hold ourselves to the highest professional standards. In the near future, you can expect to see the bar raised for professional credentials and baseline qualifications. Our industry will be scrutinized for evidence that we deserve a place at the table with other health care providers. The measures that you take today to improve your professional image can play an important role in helping you secure a rewarding and lucrative life-long career in the future.
W.I.T.S. is dedicated to promoting professionalism in the fitness industry. We feel that fitness professionals should be able to build a life-long career, with pay scales equitable to other health care professions. We provide tools to help you build your business and grow your cash flow. To make the most out of your career, stay on the cutting edge with courses from the W.I.T.S. Fitness Business Institute, and visit our booth at the Club Industry Show, October 9-11, 2015, in Chicago.
References and Credits
ACE Fitness: The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Professional in the Fitness Industry
Harvard Business Review: What Does Professionalism Look Like?
IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Professionalism in a Service Industry
Professionalism in a Service Industry
*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.