The military teaches all service members a variety of valuable skills, even if veterans don't know how to articulate them. While some aren't obvious, there is at least one that's proving to be a valuable resource: expertise in fitness. Whether it was basic training or an advanced special operations forces course, the military pushes every individual to achieve higher than average levels of physical fitness. While not all veterans keep up the pace once settled into civilian life, they all remember the training and what it takes to cut the fat and build muscle.
This expertise has not gone unnoticed. Companies know just how valuable former service members can be as fitness instructors. According to the New York Post, Gold's Gym partnered with the Veterans Fitness Career College two years ago to assist veterans looking for jobs in the fitness industry. One of the top 100 military-friendly employers, 24 Hour Fitness publically lauds veterans for their ability to motivate and hires them whenever they can. Veterans also have access to the Salute You Scholarship, a program started by the American Council on Exercise which provides 1,000 veterans each year free materials, tutoring, and registration to become a certified personal trainer through the organization.
Even local gyms see what veterans bring to their establishments. "I'm huge on bringing veterans to our business," says Josh York, founder of GymGuyz, a company in Long Island that offers a $5,000 franchise fee discount to veterans. "Our company values center around determination, respect, integrity and the will to win, and I've found that all the veterans I've met have these qualities."
Veterans themselves are also discovering the value of their military training. Some have opted out of navigating the fitness industries giants and have taken an entrepreneurial stand. Ryan Alt is former Marine and works for Tough Mudder, a company that hosts obstacle course events all over the U.S.
"I wanted to be outdoors and travel like I'd been doing in the military, so I began to seek out private-sector jobs that combined those two things," explains Alt. "Six people in the Tough Mudder company do this job, and three are military veterans, which I don't think is a coincidence.
This job is a mirror image of the one I held in the Marine Corps. Back then, I was given 40 Marines and told to train them, thinking of a training schedule and training plan and building a course that would teach them to clear buildings. At Tough Mudder, I'm given a team, a timeline, and told to create a course for 10,000 participants."
Katherine Vargas, a member of the Army Reserves working in Hamilton NY, was one of the first recipients of the Sale You Scholarship from ACE. "Before the military I ran and stayed in shape, but I never thought of fitness as a passion," said Vargas. "That all changed in the military. Fitness is so essential, and through my time in the military I really fell in love with working out."
If you're a veteran struggling to find work but are not afraid to throw down in a gym, there may be hidden career opportunities right down the street. Check your local gyms, think about ways to get certified as a personal trainer, and start connecting with the fitness community to see how your skills can be put to good use.