Careers in Sports and Wellness

Prepare for a Career in one of the Fastest Growing Industries

The Fitness & Wellness Leadership major prepares you to work in one of the fastest growing segments of the service industries. The US Labor Department of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections expects an increase of 27 percent or more in this field from 2004-2014.

You will be able to fill positions in hospital wellness centers, medically-based fitness facilities, sports performance facilities, public and privately owned health clubs, corporate fitness centers, colleges and universities, YMCAs/JCCs, and recreational/athletic sites as directors, fitness managers, supervisors, exercise leaders, elite personal trainers, and sports performance coaches.

In addition, you will be prepared to enter graduate school programs in exercise science, establish a business plan to start your own fitness business, and develop a career path to become a future educator working in a college or university setting.

Personal Fitness Training

As the public becomes increasingly health-conscious, the need for qualified and educated personal trainers continues to grow. If you love working with people and helping them become their best, consider a career in personal training!

Personal fitness trainers train individual clients or small groups (2 to 4) on proper methods of exercising that includes cardiovascular, flexibility, and resistance/strength training in order to reach fitness goals.

Personal trainers work with clients, evaluate their physical fitness level, medical/health history, and help them develop and achieve fitness goals. By demonstrating different exercises, they help their clients learn proper exercise techniques and assess progress by maintaining records of each exercise session. In addition, the personal trainer implements a medically-based fitness model that incorporates ACSM® Risk Stratification process to screen clients before starting exercise programs.

Athletic and Sports Performance Specialist/Coach

Amateur and professional athletes at all levels—from elementary school teams to the National Football League—need the assistance of Athletic and Sport Performance Specialists/Coaches to make them excel at their sports.

The athletic and sports performance specialist/coach designs athletic conditioning and sports specific exercise programs for athletes of all abilities, levels, and ages. They implement training techniques and programs to help athletes expand the functional capacity of their bodies and enhance sport-specific performance—while remaining strong and free from injuries.

Depending on the clients needs, that may include exercise movements focusing on power, strength, speed, quickness, coordination, agility, flexibility, local muscular endurance, and cardiovascular aerobic capacity. In addition, sport performance specialists learn how to periodize the training program precisely for peak performance at critical points in the competitive season and design safe and effective reconditioning regimens to bring an athlete back from injury in partnership with certified athletic trainers and physical therapists.

Group Excercise Instruction

Group Exercise Instructor
Group exercise instructors teach group exercise programs in a health/fitness facility setting. They teach classes such as muscle conditioning, Pilates, stretching/flexibility, yoga, karate, boxing, weightlifting, hip-hop, sports performance, functional training, aquatic training, spinning, and aerobic exercise

Group Coordinator
Group coordinators plan, promote, coordinate and manage group exercise programs in health and fitness facilities. Coordinators manage/hire group exercise instructors and train them on facility procedures, instructions, and guidelines. In addition, they develop budgets, administer payroll, acquire equipment/programs, and create business plans.

Program Director/Group Exercise Supervisor
Program directors and group exercise supervisors manage and promote effective and well-balanced group exercise programs in multiple health and fitness facilities. They are responsible for the hiring, training, and education of group coordinators.

Fitness Manager

Fitness Manager/Director
Fitness manager/directors manage fitness centers and teams of personal fitness trainers/fitness professionals that include the management of staff, training/education, budgets/business planning, fitness systems, equipment acquisitions, career development programs for staff, and public wellness education programs.

This position typically requires a bachelor's degree or higher. These professionals usually have as much or more knowledge of business management as they do fitness. A great combination is a degree that incorporates fitness principles, exercise science, and business concepts within the degree program. A fitness manager that holds both a degree and a national personal training certification (example: ACSM® Personal Trainer Certification) builds credibility with the staff and helps upper management build professional and required academic standards for entrance into the fitness field.

Regional Manager
Regional managers direct multi-facility operations including training and education of staff, payroll, budgets, facility staffing, human resources, retail sales, club maintenance, and equipment acquisitions. They also work with facility fitness managers, facility general managers/operations managers, and report to the president, owner, or board of directors.

Health Club Management

Assistant General Manager/Operations Manager
Assistant general managers and operations managers assist general managers in promoting customer service and quality of the membership. In addition, they assist the general managers in the oversight of facility operations and departments that includes fitness, membership sales, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, and other membership programs and services.

General Manager
General managers guide facility operations and ensure the company's business plan is being implemented. The general manager has direct oversight of facility operations and departments that include fitness, membership sales, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, and other membership programs and other services.

Regional Manager
Regional managers oversee multi-facility operations that include payroll, club management, staffing, training, human resources, and sales. They work directly with facility general managers/operations managers and report to the president, owner, or board of directors.

Fitness Business Owner

Fitness Entrepreneur
To establish your own business in the fitness industry and to take the initiative to create a successful business venture, be the first in taking steps towards realizing an opportunity to do something that is worthwhile and that you enjoy.

Personal Training Studio Owner
Own and manage your own personal training studio. Personal training studios typically do not sell memberships, but may do so on a very limited basis to personal training clients. Personal training studios are usually below 5,000 total square feet.

Studio owners need to manage all business aspects of the facility that includes budgets/business planning, operations, marketing, management of staff, training/education, fitness systems, equipment acquisitions, career development programs for staff, and public wellness education programs.

Health Club/Fitness Facility Owner
Own and manage your own health club or fitness facility. Health Clubs/Fitness Facilities sell memberships and offer services that may include the following: fitness programming, spa operations, aquatics, group exercise, tennis, kid's camps, and other membership programs, amenities, and other services. Health Clubs/Fitness Facilities can range from 5,000 to 300,000 total square feet.

Fitness Franchise/License Owner
You may want to purchase a fitness franchise that has a proven system to follow that produces results or you may simply want a turnkey business model to own and manage. With a franchise or licensed program, you can purchase a franchise or license from one of several organizations that offer them. In most cases, these agreements require an upfront fee (which ranges from $7,500 to $30,000), and a monthly fee that is either a flat fixed amount or a percentage of the revenues (typically 4 to 8 percent of program revenues) generated from the program. In addition, there are, in many cases, additional costs for equipment.

As with any franchised or licensed program, you'll need to determine whether the strength of the brand, the training provided by the parent company and the marketing support are worth the initial and ongoing investment. Examples of fitness franchises include Curves, Miracle Fitness, Fitness Together, Velocity Sports, Parisi Speed School, Frappier Acceleration Sports Training, and Centers for Athletic Performance (CAP).

SUNY Plattsburgh Career Development Center

Our Career Development Center provides services, resources, and programs designed to help students and alumni to better understand the career development process, and to enhance their professional preparation and employability.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the sports and wellness program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Larry Soroka, Chair
Office: 102 Broad St.
Phone: (518) 564-5292
Email: laurence.soroka@plattsburgh.edu