Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of American Fitness Magazine.
As a group fitness instructor or personal trainer, you excel at leading and educating. Have you ever fantasized about taking your expertise beyond the confines of the studio? Take a moment to recall an engaging presenter at the last fitness education event you attended. This person—probably a fitness industry veteran with a passion for educating fellow fitness professionals—had experience and credentials, communicated well, and captured the group’s attention. Did you walk away thinking you, too, might like to be a “trainer of the trainers”? Many fitness professionals easily envision themselves on the stage, but the path to making it a reality has many steps.
Begin the journey by
reviewing your qualifications, along with the pros and cons of being a
presenter or master trainer.
Your topics and qualifications. What do you want to present, and what, exactly, is your area of expertise? Just about any aspect of group fitness is fair game: functional training, active aging, mind-body, recovery, prechoreographed programs, business, leadership, aquatic fitness, and evergreen topics such as step aerobics and indoor cycling. Is your knowledge appropriate for those who are new to the fitness industry, for seasoned pros or for both?
look at your qualifications. You will need to have a current nationally
recognized fitness certification—your NASM/AFAA certification is a perfect ally.
Sometimes you need a degree in your field of expertise or a minimum number of
years in the fitness industry.
Advantages and considerations. After thinking of what you can offer, give equal weight to what you will gain and how those advantages blend with your lifestyle. Presenting can expand your network, build your resumé and develop your communication skills. Erin Scott, 2018 Beachbody® LIVE Master Trainer of the Year, from Fairhope, Alabama, gets to live her passion of sharing fitness and building relationships with new group fitness instructors. “It’s an opportunity to educate the future of fitness,” she says.
presenting often provides the opportunity to travel. It’s very exciting to
visit new cities and experience different fitness facilities. But a presenter
is usually paid only for the event, not for travel time on either end. How far
are you willing to drive, or how many hours do you want to spend in airports?
Most fitness education events are held on the weekend. Contemplate what you will
miss doing with your family and friends, or what classes and clients you might
have to give up if you’re no longer available on Saturdays and Sundays. If you
work during the week, calculate the number of hours presenting and travel will
add to your workload.
the most rewarding aspects of presenting is meeting many other fitness
professionals. They have intriguing stories of fitness journeys and share a
common interest with you.
also have repeat attendees, which can lead to an expanded network or even
friendships. But what if you have an unhappy customer? Anticipate how you will
handle a participant who does not get what she expects from the event (but
touch base with the event organizer first).
Are you still in? You can present education that
you’ve created, or you can represent an established fitness product or brand.
Either approach may make you eligible to present at a conference.
Your Own Workshops
If you have a unique topic or unique
intellectual property, develop your own educational offerings. Keep in mind,
however, that you are responsible for every aspect, from conception to
presentation. How big is your fitness network? Are there enough places in a
wide geographical area to hold your events? There is a finite number of fitness
professionals in any one region, so beware of oversaturating the market. In
addition, how are your marketing skills? You need to spread the word about the
events and get people excited enough to register. If you plan to present
long-term, you’ll need to continually develop new content to get repeat
to reach more participants is to offer web-based education in addition to
in-person events. You can develop a webinar or an online program or offer a
live workshop that people participate in virtually. Ponder whether you have the
technological skills and equipment to go this route.
professionals are more likely to register for an event if they get continuing
education credits, so the next step is to become a continuing education
provider. Develop clear objectives and an outline for each workshop. The
content must be credible and in a relevant subject area, and the presenter
needs to have appropriate credentials. Fitness certification agencies have
provider applications on their websites. Carefully review the yearly fees and
the deadlines for each agency and type of workshop. You’ll need to renew your
status each year. You’ll also need to keep attendance records in case
participants lose their certificates of completion.
about what you will charge. You aren’t just covering the expenses of the
workshop and continuing education credits; you also need to factor in hotels,
flights, meals and rental cars or mileage. How do you put a price on your time?
Determine the overall return on investment from the whole process.
Presenting for an established fitness product
or brand is another option. Most of the educational content is created by the
company or organization, not the presenter or master trainer. The company has
the intellectual property, the outline and the objectives and is usually
approved as a continuing education provider. In addition, the company often has
name recognition, which leads fitness professionals to register for an event
regardless of the presenter.
for presenter requirements or applications on company websites so you can see
what education or certification is needed. It’s common for companies to require
applicants to have completed the company’s education events, to have taught
that modality for a minimum number of years and to submit a teaching video.
After you submit your application, you—along with likely hundreds of other
fitness professionals—can hope to be selected for an interview or audition.
Organizations are not looking for professionals who meet the minimum
requirements; they want people who shine. Do your ambition and desire stand
out? Can you “edutain”—meaning, can you offer excellent education while holding
the audience’s attention?
are chosen to apprentice, you’ll begin a process that can take several months.
Expect to attend training events at your own expense. You might present at an
educational event with a more experienced presenter, who will evaluate you
before you’re approved to lead on your own.
you’re a representative, how do you find presenter work? Here’s one
possibility: A program manager at a fitness facility contacts a company’s
events director (or a person in a similar position) to inquire about hosting
requirements, types of certifications and workshops offered, and prospective
dates. The company assigns an available presenter; someone who is
geographically close to the host site may be chosen in order to reduce travel
costs. The company and the host site are primarily responsible for marketing
companies require the presenter to find the host sites, set up the dates,
market the event and, sometimes, handle the registrations. The size of your
network, your relationships with other fitness professionals and the number of
other presenters who live in the same region and teach the same content will
affect your success in this scenario.
and travel costs also vary. Some presenters earn a flat fee per event, and
others are paid based on enrollment. A company may use a sliding pay scale to
encourage presenters to work more hours and get more attendees. Some companies
pay all travel costs, while others give the presenter a lump sum that includes travel costs.
on the organization, there may be additional benefits for the presenters.
“Presenters are offered resources to grow professionally, such as online
development or in-person events,” says Scott. Some companies arrange for
presenters to network regularly with each other to create a “family”
atmosphere, and others may offer free continuing education credits or waive
certification renewal fees.
If you’ve decided that the above options are
not for you, but you still have a desire to speak publicly or educate, think
about local opportunities. A hometown news station may need a fitness expert,
or you can approach your fitness facility’s program manager about having you
develop in-house workshops for the staff. More possibilities: Start a YouTube
channel, ask to be a speaker at a civic organization, or write an article for
an industry publication.
Fitness is always changing, and the industry needs passionate, knowledgeable professionals to share the information. There is definitely a place for you!
About The Author: Sarah Schrenk, MS, was a presenter for a national certification company for 8 years. She has also presented her own content at collegiate fitness conferences and written for American Fitness and IDEA Health & Fitness Association’s Fitness Journal.