1. Physical conditioner/personal trainer
The nitty-gritty: Fit as a fiddle means something in this world. Expect sweat. You'll be demonstrating exercise techniques, bending to set machines and lifting balls and weights. Prepare for some tough love. Honesty rules when helping clients gauge their physical fitness level and set reasonable goals. Creativity comes into play, too. Generally, you have free rein to design course plans for your clients' individual workout routines. And it's not all mats and machines. You need grounding in nutrition and diet issues, which go hand-in-hand with a fit physique. Most trainers work at health and fitness club facilities. But if you've got an entrepreneurial bent, one-on-one training at clients' homes is popular. Senior living communities, wellness centers, civic associations, and even large nonprofits like the Arthritis Foundation are often on the lookout for individual or small group trainers.
The hours: Flexible. Mornings, evenings, weekends, you name it. You book your own sessions.
Median pay range: The median scale is $17 to $30 an hour. But in larger cities, rates can roll up to $60 to $100 or more. Most health clubs collect the cost for the session from their member and dole out a percentage to you.
Qualifications: Certification is not required by law, but most fitness clubs insist. There are several national groups that offer some type of credential. These include the American Council on Exercise, the International Sports Sciences Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. For credentials, you must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pass an exam that consists of both a written and practical demonstration. These exams aren't for slouchers. You'll need to be up to speed on human physiology, understand correct exercise techniques, how to assess a client's fitness level and know the ins and outs of proper exercise programs. The groups sell study materials, including books and CD-ROMs, and offer exam preparation workshops. Renewal every two years via continuing education classes is standard. If you're an education junkie, you might step it up by enrolling in an adult education program at a community or local college to obtain a fitness training degree. In general, advanced certification will require an associate's or bachelor's degree in an exercise-related subject such as physical education or kinesiology. And like many people-oriented jobs, a peppy personality and a physique that shows you practice what you preach will attract and retain clients. Gym rats need apply.