How do you begin getting experience once you have ACSM's HFS Certification?
I recently received my BS in Movement Science and am currently studying for ACSM's HFS certification exam. I feel as though I have a lot of the knowledge necessary for this field, but I have no experience in the practical application of it. I can't afford to go to the two day seminars they provide (although I am doing the online webinars), and I'm not sure where else I could go to get experience in applying my knowledge!
How did you get your initial experience when you first started in this field? How could I approach a potential employer and sell myself without having experience where I am working directly with clients yet?
Congrats on your degree. This is a fun and very interesting field to get in. One suggestion I could give you is to look for a trainer position at a local YMCA. They are great places to start a career and expose you to a number of clients, scenarios and other opportunities. I started my career at the YMCA many years ago and it was the best decision I made. I learned many new things about training and facility management which helped me in my later years as a trainer and a fitness professional. They have some great programs and it would be a great way for you to learn. Of course you can try to get a training job at a different gym if you wish and start your career that way. Many gyms might not hire you if you are not certified or have liability insurance, so you keep that in mind. Another suggestion would be for you to find a mentor and shadow him/her so you could learn from them as well.
You can also search the IDEAFIT site for other similar questions posted by others and read their responses. You will get some great responses here as well from other professionals.
I hope this helps.
Harris has some valid points. To add to that, I was wondering whether you are not a member of a facility yourself. You could ask a friend to be your guinea pig and do exactly what you would do with a paying client. Surely, not all of your learning can have been book learning.
This is a rewarding field, and I wish you good luck for your future success.
Are there any specific professions you’re hoping to start out in? (i.e. personal training, health club management, lifestyle coaching, something in a clinical fitness setting, etc.)
Regardless of the specific career you’ll be starting, seeking out internship opportunities might be to your advantage. Much like Harris’s recommendation of finding a mentor, an internship could help open up doors for you later on down the line. After showing a business how valuable you are as an intern I feel you’re much more likely to have a paid position offered up to you. On the other hand, there’s always the option of creating a position/department for yourself within the business by demonstrating how the business will benefit from it both financially and/or from a customer experience standpoint.
Does all this make sense? Have you looked into any local internships and what their requirements are for applying?
Let me know your thoughts if you’ve got the time. Best of luck to you either way!
I also love the mentor idea!! But would anyone mind sharing an appropriate way to find a mentor? Most people I graduated with are going on to some sort of graduate school, and professors on campus don't have the HFS certification or know much about it. Short from literally just going out to a local gym, YMCA, or something like that, I'm not sure how I should reach out to find someone who would be willing to help me!
Karin- That's a great idea too! I'm sure I could find a few friends who would love help with their training. And you're right, although it feels like all I have is knowledge, we did get a lot of experience obtaining initial assessments in our exercise physiology lab. Great point :]
Michael- Thank you! I love the Exercise as Medicine approach that ACSM offers...I love the idea that exercise isn't just good for your heart, but that it can help with so much more, both physiologically and psychologically. I learned a lot about the current obesity epidemic in some of my classes and would love to work with that population to help them improve their health and overall lives. But really, as long as I get to work with people on an individual level in a setting where I can share my passion for exercise and living a healthy lifestyle with them, I will love it. I guess I'm pretty open at this point!
I actually have looked for internships, and found a few, but many of them are geared towards students still in college and offer exchange for course credit. I'm going to keep searching though, because that seems like it would be the best way to get experience and learn more about the field!
Thank you so much for all your help, everyone! I really appreciate it :]
Congratulations; you have all the tools you need to successfully help others.
How to find a mentor? Just go out and ask. What is stopping you from talking to people honestly, the way you are engaging us?
Promote yourself with confidence and authenticity...the rest will follow.
Have fun and take care.
This is what I did. At the time I was working in corporate fitness and I looked for opportunities to apply all that was required to earn the credential.
I made sure I utilized the guidelines in GETP8 when I performed assessments. If someone had a clinical condition, I risk stratified the individual according to the guidelines.
If you purchase the materials that are suggested to prepare for the exam, study, and apply what you are learning you should be able to do well.
I took the workshops and even though I know they are expensive, they were very helpful to me in preparing for the exam.
Please reach out to me if you have any other questions.
To find a mentor, you should contact Fitness Managers around the area you live and let them know about what your goal is and you are interested in learning the ropes and get an idea of how other trainers train clients. Not all of them will agree, but some will have no trouble helping you and they will be happy to do so. Tell them you want to learn from the best, especially from those trainers who have been around for many years. I would contact small personal training studios as well as larger gyms, since the environment is very different between these types of businesses. You can also try you’re the rec center at your University. If they can’t help you, maybe they can provide you with some pointers towards the right direction. It’s also possible that a trainer who has his/her own Personal Training business, might be willing to let you shadow them while they train their clients or teaching classes and it could also lead to a possible employment opportunity once you receive your certification. It’s worth a try.
I hope this helps.
Alternately, you can look at CF jobs. Health Fitness and Plus One are examples of large companies that might be in your area and are always looking for educated people to fill part-time positions.
I would also start working out on a regular basis to learn technique and gain confidence. Read everything fitness and don't be afraid to hit the weights and do things that may be out of your comfort zone.