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Dec 15
Part I: Exercise Trainer's Experience and Beliefs toward Fitness Career Income, Employment Opportunities and Various Business Models

​By: Richard Cotton, MA, ACSM-CEP
National Director of Certification, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

The ACSM trend report is an annual survey, now in its tenth year; the survey was completed by more than 2,800 health and fitness professionals worldwide, many certified by ACSM, and was designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments. Forty potential trends are given as choices, and the top 20 were ranked and published by ACSM, including a few new additions to last year's list, one of which rose immediately to the #1 spot.

Comparing 2010 & 2016
1.      educated and experienced fitness professionals

1. wearable technology

2.      strength training2. body weight training
3.      children and obesity3. high intensity interval training (HIIT)
4.      personal training4. strength training
5.      core training5. educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
6.      fitness programs for older adults6. personal training
7.      functional fitness7. functional fitness
8.      sport-specific training8. fitness programs for older adults
9.      Pilates9. exercise and weight loss
10.   group personal training10. yoga


A comparison of these lists is insufficient to make substantive statements on the future of personal training.

In order to more accurately assess and predict the future of personal training, ACSM conducted an additional study.

The objectives of the survey are as follows:

  • Gain insight into personal trainer-related demographics: gender, age, marital status, years in the field, education, income, international movement, registry listings
  • Investigate the potential for training as a lifelong sustainable source of income
  • Investigate the potential of various business models to expand the reach of trainers, as well as enhance business opportunities


The survey was distributed electronically through Survey Monkey to approximately 30,000 ACSM certified exercise professionals (including international certificants).

While this survey did not provide definitive results regarding the future of personal training, it did provide insight into the education, commitment, creativity and love for the work.

  • The income potential appears to be limited when trainers commit to training only as their source of income.
  • Trainers are very committed to staying in the field by taking on other kinds of work within the field
  • Only a small percentage sell additional products for income. This is probably a good thing when we consider how supplement sales have not contributed positively to the reputation of trainers!


Did gender affect the results?


In "All Data," which was primarily Americans, women made up 63% of the sample; however, internationally, women made up about 45% of the participants.  International respondents consisted of ten percent of the total data.

Some more interesting results were found. Read on next month!


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