Health Club Owners and Managers
There were approximately 38,477 health clubs in the United States in 2019, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association. Fitness facilities may be chain operations or local establishments, or they may be owned by a larger corporation that offers the facility solely for the benefit of its employees.
Because of their growing popularity, clubs offer more part- and full-time positions than ever before. To find an employer near you, check newspaper or online classified ads. You can also search online for "health clubs" to find gyms in your area and visit them to find out about job opportunities.
Graduates of programs in sports administration and sports facility management usually find jobs through past internships, from personal contacts they developed in the field, or from job listings in their graduate programs' placement departments.
Many health club managers start out in other jobs. They may move into a management position after working in another fitness career. For example, an aerobics instructor who desires more management duties may become the club's fitness director. Other club managers are hired after first working in the business industry. For example, a public relations professional who is dedicated to working out may choose to leave his or her industry to work in health and fitness instead.
The job of health club owner is not a starting position. Most owners start out in other fitness industry positions, gaining the experience and financial know-how that are necessary for running a business.
Experience and certification are the best ways for someone to advance in a fitness career. Years of successful, on-the-job experience count for a great deal in this industry. Health club owners look for managers who have demonstrated the ability to run a club smoothly. Certification is another way in which success can be gauged. Since certification goes hand-in-hand with experience, it is assumed that those individuals who are certified are the best in their field.
Outside of experience and certification, a willingness and eagerness to learn and branch into new areas is another important factor affecting advancement. Those who are willing to embrace new technology and are open to new ideas and methods for improving the operation of their clubs will likely advance in their careers.
Health club managers who have strong business sense and financial backing may advance further by deciding to own their own clubs.
Tips for Entry
Become familiar with fitness by joining a sports team, visiting a fitness club, or coaching a team.
Earn certification as a fitness trainer or group fitness instructor; experience working at a gym as a trainer or instructor will give you firsthand knowledge of gym management and customer relations.
Join a student business group, such as Junior Achievement (http://www.juniorachievement.org) to learn about financial planning, entrepreneurship, and running a business.
Contact local gyms or fitness studios to inquire if they offer work-study programs for students. Some yoga studios, for example, allow students to take classes for free in exchange for a few hours of work managing customers and cleaning the facilities.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers comprehensive information about starting and funding a business at https://www.sba.gov/business-guide.