Top 10 Jobs for Fitness Buffs

Work hard. Play harder is quickly becoming the motto of fitness-obsessed Americans. More than 252 million Americans participated in some sort of fitness activity in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If saving sports for playtime isn't enough for you, there are some promising and exciting jobs that can propel your hobby into a career.

1. Coach

It is said, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Using their expertise in a sport, coaches train, organize, instruct and teach amateur and professional athletes. A coach's main goal is to improve an athlete's skills and maximize physical potential while instilling good sportsmanship, a competitive spirit and teamwork.

2. Fitness Director/Gym Manager

Hans and Franz from the classic Saturday Night Live sketch may come to mind when you think of someone who runs a gym or oversees fitness operations. Fitness directors oversee the operations of a health club or fitness center while creating and maintaining programs that meet the needs of the club's members.

3. Nutritionist/Dietician

Because a good diet is as essential for a healthy lifestyle as fitness is, nutritionists and dieticians are at the front lines fighting America's obesity epidemic. They plan food and nutrition programs, supervise the preparation and serving of meals, promote healthy eating habits and recommend dietary modifications.

4. Personal Trainer

One of the fastest-growing occupations today, personal trainers work with clients on a one-on-one basis in either a gym or the client's home. They assess physical fitness levels, set fitness goals and keep records of client progress. They also demonstrate various exercises and help clients to improve their exercise techniques.

6. Sports Instructors

From children to adults, sports instructors and physical education teachers instruct students on a group or individual basis. They organize, instruct and train athletes using their knowledge of sports, physiology and technique.

7. Physical Therapist

Physical therapists (PTs) provide services that help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. Their patients include athletes suffering from injuries received while playing the sport or that might impede their performance, as well as accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions.

8. Professional Athlete

A person can pretty much earn a living in any sport from baseball to billiards. While only a small percentage of pro athletes achieve fame and fortune, a more rewarding aspect can come from making a living out of doing what you love. With a working knowledge of the sport, athletes typically compete in organized, officiated sports events to entertain spectators.

9. Recreation and Activity Coordinator

Recreation and activity coordinators primarily work for parks, recreation centers and live-in facilities for the mentally and physically disabled. They're responsible for a recreation program's daily operation, as well as planning, organizing and managing activities. No day is typical -- on any given day, he or she might take a resident for a haircut, throw a Mardi Gras party and serve as lifeguard during a swim practice.

10. Sports Reporter

Whether you're writing a cover story for Sports Illustrated or covering the local minor league baseball team for the local news, a sports reporter's duty is to the fans. Sports reporters select, write and deliver sporting news. This may include conducting interviews with athletes, covering games and competitions, and giving commentary on a particular subject.

11. Umpire/Referee

Umpires and referees officiate at competitive athletic and sporting events by observing the play, detecting infractions of rules, and imposing penalties established by the sports' rules and regulations. This job is highly stressful because officials are often required to make split-second decisions under intense pressure, sometimes resulting in strong disagreement among competitors, coaches or spectators.

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