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The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that employment in the fitness industry will increase faster than average until 2016, according to an industry compensation survey conducted by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. In addition to an aging Baby Boomer population that’s becoming more invested in health and fitness, other factors are influencing the upward trend, such as an increase in club memberships among children and adolescents.
Fitness industry personnel, such as personal trainers and group fitness instructors, consistently report a high level of job satisfaction, according to IDEA. Love for the job is what’s kept trainer Damian Donahue in the business for eight years.
A passion for sports led Donahue to explore a career in personal training – he started working at a local gym in college and transferred to the training department. Certification in a nationally recognized program, of which there are only a handful, takes a few months and includes both a written and practical exam.
Donahue says his clients, on average 45-60 years old, are mostly concerned with fat loss and injuries, so a background in post-rehab can be beneficial. But a critical skill that most newly certified trainers overlook is communication.
“So much of it has to do with communicating with clients and promoting yourself,” Donahue said. “You may know everything about the body, but if you can’t communicate it to your client, it’s useless.”
There’s also a need for wellness coaches in corporations and health insurance companies. According to Rob Davenport, wellness program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, a growing body of evidence in the health and productivity management field shows that a healthy lifestyle enhances the productivity of employees.
The field covers everything from medical healthcare to consumer wellness, said Margaret Moore, CEO and founder of Wellcoaches in Wellesley, Mass.
“In general, this is a second career for health professionals,” Moore said. “It focuses on positive mental and physical health and is about helping people design a vision and plan for wellness like they would for their finances.”
Certification includes roughly six months of training in addition to previous related certifications, but Moore said the company is working on solidifying a national standard that will raise training time to 12-18 months.
Healthy workplace = better productivity
Fitness and nutrition are hot topics these days, due in part to a soaring obesity rate in the United States, and workplace wellness is no exception.
Why? Healthy employees are more successful and of greater benefit to an employer, not to mention happier and often less costly in terms of health care.
“When an employee is well and focused on [his or her] job, the productivity and quality of the work increases,” says Davenport.
Davenport says NASA’s wellness program, a concept becoming more common by the day and even endorsed by various Centers for Disease Control initiatives, is one of the most comprehensive in the country.
High-risk areas for the space center’s employees are low nutritional status and excess weight – the same as most Americans – so their curriculum includes an annual health risk assessment, wellness walks, and programs like a grocery store tour and restaurant lunch outing designed to help employees learn to make more nutritious choices.
Here, to help you improve overall health and perhaps even ward off the flu so you don’t lose a second of hard work, are some of Davenport’s recommended lifestyle changes:
Change your perception. The largest perceived obstacle to getting fit is time, especially for those working full-time, but it’s really just a matter of prioritizing your health, Davenport says. “People who rate personal health high will make time to work out, meditate and do things that are conducive to leading a healthy life.”
Put it on your calendar. Schedule your workout like you would a meeting, and pick times when you’re always available so you can be consistent.
Strive for balance. Davenport says people who are truly well live their lives in moderation. That means if you can’t fit in a solid 30-minute block of exercise, three 10-minute increments, such as three short, brisk walks during the day, can still improve fitness.
Maybe it’s time to turn off that Blackberry when you leave work. After all, mental health is important too.