The fitness industry is growing across the United States with workout apps, 24-hour gyms, and gyms focused on group exercise, but the personal training industry is helping make working out more accessible for average people.
“30 years ago, there really wasn’t an industry of personal training,” Andrew Wyant, CEO of the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), said. “At that time there were people who worked out and you had kind of muscle beach and you had bodybuilders and the like, but you didn’t have the fitness industry driving for the personal attention and strength that you do today.”
The $30 billion health and fitness industry in the United States has grown between three and four percent annually for the last ten years according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.
According to ISSA, organizations like theirs that provide personal training certifications have helped professionalize the industry and are leading its growth.
“The gyms were growing because Americans wanted to lose weight, they wanted to stay fit, they wanted to be healthier. There was demand for the gyms but then there was this question of ‘what do I do when I get there?’” Wyant said.
The most interesting thing about the personal training industry’s growth to Wyant though is the number of people over 40 who are choosing it as an “encore career.”
According to him, at the beginning 18- to 25-year-olds were attracted to the career but as it grew, people as old as 70 started getting their certificates.
“Baby boomers grew up in a culture [where] they started the whole running, tennis, aerobics and Jane Fonda. So you had a lot of people who for decades were following fitness throughout their lives and now that generation is getting into retirement years and they want to be every bit as fit and active as they ever were before,” Wyant said. “However, frequently that 18- to 25-year-old young person who studies exercise science in college and gets their certification, they can’t really identify in the same way with the body of a 60- or 70-year-old…[and Baby Boomers] really like to have someone who understands them better.”
And that’s what draws people to the profession, connecting with and helping others.
ISSA reports that ten years ago, less than one percent of their total audience was over 50 and today it is 15 percent. For people under 40, it is 30 percent.
“This becomes something where you continue to feel like you’re connected with people, you have the expertise, and largely being a personal trainer beyond just the physical work it’s a lot about relationships and connections,” Wyant said. “Personal trainers are like health care professionals. They’re like nurses… what they really love is they love helping people.”
So, how does someone find the right personal trainer?
“My advice for somebody looking for a personal trainer is keep looking until you find someone you connect with. The connection with the personal trainer is what makes it personal. The personal of personal training is that this person is helping you and if you don’t want a drill sergeant and you don’t think you need [one] then don’t go to a drill sergeant,” Wyant said. “Personal trainers are not one size fits all.”
For more information about ISSA, click here.