I Quit My Corporate Job and Started a Career in Fitness

I wanted freedom and flexibility.

I wanted to have the energy to do the things I loved with the people I love.

I wanted to profit from my passion.

So what did I do? I made it my mission to make it happen!

In 2015, I left my corporate job working in financial services as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and paved the path as a Certified Fitness Professional. Yeah, I didn’t want to turn 40 and start walking around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame because of my excessive hours hunched over my keyboard. It’s not worth the pain. So I set out on a path to live a happier and healthier life while helping others to do the same. Becoming a fitness professional was a no-brainer.

Now I wish I could say I left my corporate gig with fitness jobs lined up but that definitely wasn’t the case. I didn’t even know what it took to become a part-time fitness instructor. I was absolutely clueless.

Can I go even further and tell you that I didn’t know that I would make a living as a fitness instructor?

Nope. Cleo didn’t tell me that in her palm reading.

So what’s a woman to do?

Well, when your total income in a four-month period totals $70, you find a way…FAST! Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing. I’m thankful that I had enough savings to pay my bills—and travel!

Needless to say, I learned a lot (in an expedited time frame) on my journey to becoming a fitness professional. So if you’re thinking about a career in fitness and want to position yourself for success, here’s what you can do:

1. Take Fitness Classes from Leading Experts and Peers

Learn from the Pros. Watch their teaching style, observe how they engage with participants, and pay attention to their choice of music.

If you’re thinking about teaching Zumba, yoga, or any other group session, sign up for classes at different gyms to watch different instructors in action. Then talk to the instructor after class. Tell them what your goals are and see if they have any recommendations for you on your journey. You might gain advice that will make you a top instructor within months!

Watch closely. Just don’t try to imitate or duplicate someone else. Use the gifts you have to add value as an instructor.

2. Get Certified

You know what you want. Now it’s time to get certified!

I was a Zumba junkie. I would take a class every chance I got and was excited to show off my skills in the front row of most of my classes (yeah, I was that girl in the front showing off my sexy salsa moves).  So In 2012, I decided to get certified. I connected with a Zumba pro and found out that I could get certified in 8 hours. Say what? So I attended an 8-hour training and walked away as a Zumba instructor. Just. Like. That.

But it wasn’t until I left my corporate job that I decided to explore other certifications. I went to a conference and was surrounded by fitness enthusiasts who had a list of certifications that exceeded the letters of the alphabet.

Yeah, I was totally impressed – and inspired! 

So I asked the right questions and within 3 months I was an SCW Personal Trainer, WERQ Dance Fitness Instructor, POUND Pro, Silver Sneakers Fitness Trainer for Seniors, and had ordered books to become an ACE Fitness group instructor.

I was ready to take my fitness aspirations to the next level!


3. Attend Conferences

Yaaaaas! Fitness conferences do exist – and it’s the best thing since apple cinnamon rice cakes!

When I received my first part-time fitness gig at a gym, my manager informed us that we would all get free passes to the SCW Midwest Mania.

Say what? Fitness? Free? Conference? I’m there! 

And that’s where the magic happened. I increased my network of fitness instructors, picked up some amazing new certifications, and got a mind-blowing workout. I can’t forget the free swag I got from all the vendors. Awwwwww….it was the best!

Go find you a fitness conference….ASAP!

4. Craft an Irresistible Resume

If people don’t know you, they try their best to get to know you through your resume.

And sometimes your resume is the difference between a higher position and a spot in the unemployment line.

Do what it takes to provide bait. Your resume should be so irresistible that people can’t wait to meet you in person.

Create an accomplishments based resume. Focus on how you add value. Load up your resume with fancy certifications. And create a template that demands attention.

Need help? You’ve read the best piece of this blog post! I provide resume consultations and makeovers to help you create endless opportunities in your career. So if you lack fitness experience and want to dazzle employers with your transferable skills, we can make that happen!

Send me your resume at charlene@charlenerhinehart.com and I’ll send you an email back letting you know how I can help you land the job!

5. Prepare for Fitness Auditions

You got the interview! Well, of course, you did. Who could resist your resume?

Now it’s time to prepare for fitness auditions. A banging resume will get you in the door but a quality performance will allow you to soar.

During the auditions, you need to let your personality shine. Employers want to know how you will keep gym guests coming back for more!

So make sure you know the right fitness terminology, understand cueing and are familiar with ways to connect with your audience.

If you’re seeking to be a dance instructor, you may need to have a fitness routine prepared.

So this is what happened during my first audition…

I prayed.

No, I didn’t pray that I got the job (probably would have been a smart move!).

The hiring manager asked me to do a sample class. I had to introduce myself to the class, lead a warm-up, teach movement to 2 different songs, and perform a cool down routine.

Then I prayed.

After every class session, instructors were required to pray with the gym guests. What made this gym so unique is that it was rooted in a high level of spiritual nourishment and development.

We worked out together and we prayed together.

It was a mind-blowing interview.

I was new to it all. I thanked the hiring manager for the interview and said to myself, “It probably wasn’t the best audition in the world but I did my best. What is for me will be for me.”

I received a call informing me that I landed a position as a fitness instructor. This was the start of my career in fitness.

And the rest of the story …well you’ll have to meet me at my next fitness class to find out more.

Cheers to more squats, push-ups, yoga, and every other move you make that gets you one step closer to the happier, healthier, and prosperous life you seek.


Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

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