Every year thousands of people either consider taking up fitness as their career, or plan to switch careers, for following their passion in the field of fitness. But, unfortunately there is no clear direction for them, no clear guidance how to begin and how to move up the ladder. Most of the information is either too minimal to get a complete know-how of fitness as a career, or is based on the recommendations of the western nations.
Don’t worry, most people in India have gone through the same scenario, and even worse, where they have been misguided, which they realized much later in their lives. For me too, the case was the same, despite of having a rich practical experience, I was dependent on un-researched and biased pieces of information, from either muscle magazines, or some guruji-type coaches, who themselves had no scientific resource to gain knowledge from.
Moreover, there are way too many variables to consider, too many concepts to clarify, and too many questions to be answered, before you move on this path. It’s after all a question of your career and life, not a side hustle.
Acc. to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IHRSA), Global Report 2019 , the fitness industry global growth rate is app. 8.7%, estimated to cross the %100 billion by 2020. Acc. to the United Nations, chronic diseases could cost as much as $47 trillion in healthcare spending by 2030, and a shocking 85 percent of those chronic diseases are caused by factors other than genetics—including a lack of physical activity.
In a 2014 study in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition & Physical Activity, a research team, led by Ranjit M. Anjana, from Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, assessed the physical activity patterns across India – as part of the Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study. The study was conducted in four regions of India (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chandigarh representing the south, west, east and north of India respectively) with a combined population of 213 million people.
Of the 14227 individuals studied, 54.4% (7737) were inactive, 31.9% (4537) were active and 13.7% (1953) were highly active. Subjects were more inactive in urban, compared to rural, areas. Males were significantly more active than females. More than 90% of subjects in all the four regions studied did no recreational physical activity. Even among those who reported recreational physical activity, the time spent in moderate to vigorous intensity activity was overall less than 20 mins/day. This means, that nearly half of the population in the four regions studied were inactive. This translates to 392 million inactive individuals in India.
What do these figures mean to you? This means that, this is the best time to enter the fitness sector, and take up fitness as a profession. Many people like you are inspired to not just live a fit and healthy life, but also like to help others do so. With the rise in public health crises, and the awareness to stay healthy & disease free, there increase in demand for the fitness professionals today, is unlike any other time in the history.
An ever increasing number of people are joining gyms to counter the side-effects of their hectic urban lifestyles. To strengthen cardiovascular system and boost overall health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression and other diseases affecting health, or just to look good, youngsters and old age population are actively engaged in fitness.
Not only is this profession growing, but it has opened up doors to a lot of new and diverse earning options. Now, of course it is exciting to work in different areas of specializations in fitness, but in India, the knowledge of these newly emerging fields is still limited, or is quite scattered to understand them as a whole. Sometimes the choices themselves can be quite overwhelming, to navigate your way through the maze of various specializations, courses, books, and other future opportunities.
There are many questions which I get regularly when talking about fitness as a career, and I will clarify all of them one by one. This is because unlike other conventional career options, there is no clear cut defined path in fitness.
Here are the questions, which will be answered through the video series and the related blogs:
- Should I do a college degree in sports science, or nutrition, is it really worth it?
- Should I focus on fitness & nutrition certifications to advance my career, instead of a full-fledged degree?
- What qualifications do I need to become a coach?
- How to advance my career, once I am done with the basic Personal Trainer certification?
- The gyms are not paying well, how do to do a certification, I can’t afford one?
- Which are best courses and certifications to choose from?
- Which are the best institutes for fitness education?
- What books to read for updating our knowledge in various specializations like fitness, nutrition, strength & conditioning, corrective exercise etc?
- Most importantly, how to grow your fitness business and rise as a fitness influencer?
- What are the other ways to earn and multiply your income source as a fitness/nutrition professional?
- What are the qualities a fitness professional must possess to rise in his/her career, and make it big?
- What about age? Till what age can we be a fitness trainer? Is this field only for the young?
While there are no one-size-fits-all approach in fitness, but I, through my videos and blogs, will provide you a clear & comprehensive path for progression in this field. It will give you the current and future state of the industry, the number of options available to the fitness professionals and the pro and cons of each.
In addition, I will clarify the process of becoming a true professional in the field of fitness, and how to have a flourishing career. I will provide you an overview of all the career options available to you, and how you can open up multiple revenue streams to make it a financially stable and prospering career.
When we talk about the Indian market per se, the estimated revenue from the fitness segment in 2018 was over $1.4 million. In Indian market, unlike the western counterparts, there are tons of ups and downs, a reason why the market is dominated by a lot of unorganized players, and only a few brand names.
The Indian fitness industry per se (and to an extent even now) was dominated by the sports of bodybuilding and powerlifting. However, the trend started changing in the past decade or so, when the fitness industry is rising from the age old trend of bulky and heavy muscular looks to lean physiques, wellness, longevity and overall mental and physical health. This can even be observed in the sport of bodybuilding as such, where lately there has been a massive inclination seen towards the physique, fitness and figure competitions, away from the old school, traditional bodybuilding competitions.
This is the reason the market is now dominated by newer fitness trends like dance fitness including Zumba, bhangra, Bollywood etc; yoga and Pilates; sports based fitness activities like kickboxing, MMA, boxing; functional, bootcamp & HIIT style workouts, unconventional workouts using various equipment like kettlebells, TRX, battling ropes, sandbags, tyres & hammers, bodyweight etc. This has got fitness into everyone’s mind and within everyone’s reach.
Spending money on a gym membership, which was earlier considered a luxury is not considered a compulsion for the entire family; and this phenomena is not just limited to the major metros or Tier I cities, but the craze is compounding in Tier II & III cities as well.
Gyms, fitness and yoga centres which were once seen as an exclusive set-up, only for the elites, are now not just opening in every nook & corner of a town or a city, but is becoming an integral part of various schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate offices, defence forces establishments, housing societies, hotels etc.
The people joining these gyms, wellness centres or health clubs (will be considered as gyms in our discussion), are no more just youngsters. People of all ages, from small kids as early as 5-6years, to people close to 90yrs or even more, both men and women; people suffering from various acute and chronic medical issues, pregnant women, housewives, working professionals, competitive sportsmen, and you name it, you will find them concerned about their health and their looks, sweating it out hard in the gyms.
The massive boom in this fitness and nutrition industry, has opened doors for many professionals to take this, once a very insignificant field, as a serious career options, and even forced many to switch careers from traditional career in engineering, medical, banking, corporate or various government sectors, to fitness and nutrition.
Because of the tremendous rise in this segment, the career options are not just limited to being a trainer, PT teacher or a dietician, which were once considered as the only fields to get into, if you were passionate about fitness as a field. The industry is blooming like a rose, with many petals attached to the main stem.
Now, this field consists of people from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, however, for our discussion we will be taking mainly non-medical professionals as the focus. Though a lot of option will be common for both the professionals, but I would suggest all the medical professionals also to read through the entire literature, to get a better hang of this field as a career option.
I will be getting everyone under a single umbrella of a COACH here, which we simply address with a different name. But the hierarchy and specializations can be very vast. A complete coach must have a hang of most of the subjects and specialize in various fields as his career progresses.
Before we move on, we need to understand that most of the information online, is more pertaining to the western nations, and unfortunately many of the career options they have, are simply not available in our country. The direct & offline opportunities available to use are quite limited. Thanks to the online options, there is no limit to the way you can now progress in this field.
A fitness professional for me, should be a person who forms a strong bridge between the medical and the non-medical community.