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Although the coach may not work out with the client every session, he or she may be called upon to demonstrate many of the moves and to assist the client, depending on the nature of the session and the client's needs. For some coaches, the 'best' part of work -- the involvement with people committed to fitness -- may also be the worst part, because their schedules may make it difficult to find time to work out alone. Even then, the coach may be so exhausted from helping others he does not have the motivation to condition himself. But this is vital, so the coach can assist clients in an injury-free fashion.
A typical 'day in the life' of a sports and conditioning coach will vary depending upon the coach's practice setting. A private trainer might get up at 5:30am to go to the house of a busy executive he or she is training before the client leaves for work, and then drive to various clients' homes for the rest of the morning and work until late at night. He or she might also see clients at his or her own home, provided there is a facility for training and conditioning. A coach at a school might begin the day at administrative meetings, work with various teams at morning practices, meet with the sports coaches to discuss the specific physical conditioning for their sport and the health of their athletes, and then work privately with athletes for the afternoon. A high school coach would likely be responsible for teaching PE classes during the day, and work with students in the weight room during the afternoon, as part of their school practice. Some coaches might work as part of general sports facilities, like gyms, where they see private clients but are also available to give advice to regular gym-goers. They may also arrange to meet with private clients outside of gym hours. Physical therapists and individuals who have professional degrees in the field of kinesiology may work at physician's offices or have their own private practices.
The hours for a personal trainer vary widely as well, depending upon the availability of clients. The clients may need to be trained early in the morning or late at night, depending on their schedules, and trainers must be flexible. Work on weekends is also frequent. Gyms are also open early and close late, because of the need to accommodate patron's schedules. Working at a university may also require long hours during peak sports seasons, although coaches will have more downtime during vacation periods and when sports seasons close. The hours and workload likely to be more consistent at a high school or office and will depend on the hours of operation of the institution.
To find out more about the steps required to become a personal trainer, speaking to personal trainers at gyms or who own their own businesses is a good first step. So is talking to strength and conditioning coaches for local high schools and universities. Contacting teachers and students at schools with prominent sports and kinesiology programs such as the University of Michigan and Syracuse can provide insight as to the breadth of opportunities within the profession. The American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, and National Academy of Sports Medicine are a few of the many organizations that offer training courses and informational resources for personal trainers and other members involved in the profession (Waehner 2011).
Deciding on a career path in personal training in the field of strength and conditioning will depend upon the individual's personality and desire for job security. Working independently as a trainer provides excitement, variability and the ability to make unlimited income, but also poses risks, given clients can leave at will. Working for an institution is more secure, but one's income is fixed and the schedule is less volatile.
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