Get experience as soon as possible
I have hired staff for a couple of Assistant Strength & Conditioning positions in both Ireland and America and one of the biggest things I look for is a variety of experience from applicants. I helped mentor an Exercise Science class at my former university, Kutztown University, and was surprised by the amount of people that were planning to wait until after graduating their programme to get experience. If you want to break through into the field of strength and conditioning / health and wellness and successfully compete against other candidates you need to get experience throughout your academic programme.
Go on site visits
Open Google Maps and type in strength and conditioning near me, gyms near me or universities near me and you will find various fitness, health and strength and conditioning departments. The S&C world is incredibly open, and most coaches will welcome you with open arms if you ask to speak with them, observe a session or shadow them for a full day of workouts. Just beware of their busy times – email, text or message coaches privately and ask if can speak with them. I promise you will learn a lot in a single day.
Develop a competitive edge
If you’re like most people you probably got into the health and fitness world because you saw the value and personal impact training has upon your quality of life and mindset. If you don’t have a team sport background I highly recommend that you attempt to find another pursuit, activity or sport that you can train to be better at. Having a competitive edge or competitive mindset is crucial in our field. Some examples could include rock-climbing, Olympic weightlifting, Powerlifting or sea-swimming. My own personal interest outside of strength and conditioning is soccer officiating.
Learn outside of the classroom
Take a deep dive into topics such as nutrition, fitness prescription or psychology as fields like these will aid in your development as a coach. Most young aspiring coaches have a good grasp of sets, reps and exercise selection yet very few coaches have a solid understanding of basic nutrition principles or how to write a fitness, speed or agility programme. You have plenty of choices to consume content depending upon your preferred learning style. I like the following websites for strength and conditioning information – Elite FTS, Simpli Faster, Podcast recommendations; The Stronger by Science Podcast and Built to Grow Fitness Business and book recommendations; Westside Barbell Book of Methods and The System.
Certification should not be seen as your end-goal but instead should be seen as your starting point as a true professional. Start with the fundamental certifications to ensure you can keep people safe- CPR, AED and first aid if possible, before moving onto further certification. Consider your interests and look to get certified in that area. Do you prefer working with athletes or everyday people? Your choice of certification and investment into your future should reflect these interests.
My name is Kevin Barry and I’m the Owner & Director of Training at Motiv8 Fitness. I was once in your shoes- starting out, unsure of what to expect in the health and fitness world so I can relate to your challenges, worries and concerns at the moment. If you’d like to get some insight into what we do at Motiv8 Fitness and learn about my training philosophy send me a message and I’ll be happy to chat further. firstname.lastname@example.org