Brian Grasso, CEO for the International Youth Conditioning Association, travels extensively throughout the world as a guest lecturer on the topic of youth athletic development and fitness. You can find dozens of free articles, sample programs and resources on his Web site: www.DevelopingAthletics.com.

The fitness industry has changed immeasurably over the past decade. One-on-one personal training has given way to more group training efforts, and the market demographic of individuals seeking expert instruction has changed.

One of the fastest growing and most lucrative demographics in the industry is children and teenagers. With youth obesity on the rise, physical education cuts nationwide, an over-zealous youth sports mentality, and rapid decline in the health and physical culture of our youngest generation, this demographic is now considered to have the largest growth potential in our entire marketplace.

Prudent fitness professionals intending to make a longevity-based career out of their work must forecast towards future trends and understand the current climate of our industry. The professional of the future must become a specialist in one or two specific areas of expertise. They must focus their efforts at becoming the best at what they do, branding themselves for such initiative and becoming the “go to” person for the specific specialty in their respective geographic area.

As the niche specialty of youth continues to grow, ambitious consumers (i.e., parents) will seek out only those qualified fitness professionals who truly understand the nature of developmental fitness, pediatric exercise science and program design for clients ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old.

Fitness professionals would be well-served to join an educational organization whose own specialty resides in teaching the proper science and application of working with young clients for either health or sports-related objectives. That being said, the market of youth fitness and sport training is virtually an open canvas for all motivated professionals seeking job security, as well as intense job satisfaction.

According to the Wall Street Journal, more than $4 billion is spent every year on training and coaching for children and teenagers in the United States. MSNBC reports that more than 1 million U.S. youngsters from ages 6 to 18 hired a personal trainer in 2006.

With such intensive demand for service, many fitness professionals are left wondering where to get started and how they can enter the ever-expanding world of youth fitness and sport training.

In my experience, your best bet for entering this incredibly rewarding market is through your local YMCA and park district facilities. Both places have facilities as well as a direct contact with community families looking for fitness and recreational programs.

This avenue is particularly enticing for a number of reasons. First, you will not have to incur any type of overhead with respect to facility rental or leasing as the standard operating agreement with venues such as these is a mere revenue split upon the conclusion of your camp or program.

The same holds true for getting clients in the door. Once you have met and cultivated a relationship with the fitness director of the facility, they will ask you for a brief summary of your program that includes specific details related to fees, dates and times, program content, and program duration. Once approved, they will either send direct mail on your behalf to local families or include your program in the next edition of their quarterly catalog. In both instances, the cost to you is zero while the exposure is massive.

In terms of registration and fee collection, the agency will also usually handle this on your behalf and simply cut you a check for the divided profits at the conclusion of the camp. In my experience, it is best to begin developing a relationship with the facility’s fitness director sometime in early spring so that you can begin offering youth fitness programs through their network starting in the summer—the busiest time of year for youth fitness specialists.

Once you have become a known commodity in your area to local families and have branded yourself as a go-to person in the realm of youth fitness and sport training, your options grow considerably. You can certainly continue on with the YMCA or a park district, which is something I strongly advise, or parlay your new-found reputation into more private training sessions that are conducted at off-site locations.

With the youth fitness and sport training marketplace exploding, I hope this answers the questions of where you train kids and how you find clients.