By Juliana Weiss-Roessler
Without a doubt, you know that the United States has a weight problem. We eat too much and too poorly, and we expend too little energy. But do you know how bad it’s really gotten?
According to a 2012 study, more than two-thirds of adults in the country are overweight, and more than a third can be defined as obese. In fact, since the 1970s the obesity rates for all Americans – children and adults – have more than doubled.
Not surprisingly, this has led to an enormous weight loss industry and includes such diverse business models as diet plans, diet drugs, medical procedures, gym memberships, cleanses, diet food home delivery, meal consultants, and various kinds of trainers. 20/20 ran a story back in May of 2012 saying that these companies raked in around $20 billion (yes, with a “b”) each year.
At the same time, more of us than ever before aren’t working traditional jobs and are trying to make a go of it from home, but many don’t know what they qualify for or where they should be focusing their energies.
Is a light bulb forming yet?
Clearly, a vast number of us need help maintaining our weight and staying healthy, and researchers only expect the industry to grow to match our waistlines and increasing health issues. So if you’re looking for something that you can do from home, the weight loss and fitness industries offer a wealth of opportunities.
Weight Loss Consultant:
What the job entails – When a client comes in, you look at their weight and get them to tell you about their lifestyle, then suggest ways that they can change their diet and level of activity in order to safely get down to a healthy weight.
Required education – One of the best parts of becoming a weight loss consultant is that all you really need is a high school diploma. However, if you want to work with certain companies (even from home), they may want you to have a bachelor’s degree involving fitness, health, or nutrition. And many consultants decide to at least get a certification from ACE or AFPA and take continuing education classes so that they keep up with changes.
Pros and cons – The low education requirements of the job make it easy to get into, but that also means that you will have a lot of competition. You also need to be good at selling yourself and working with people, since the majority of your job will involve one-on-one interaction.
What the job entails – Essentially, you are using your knowledge of health and nutrition to create menus for groups and individuals who may or may not have specific eating requirements. You can work for bigger companies, like Weight Watchers, or start your own business. To do the latter, you’ll probably want a website and a decent amount of marketing knowledge to make yourself stand out.
Required education – While there is no formal education required to work as a meal planner, you do need to learn as much as you can about food preparation, nutrition, and specialized diets. Because of this, many meal planners study diet and nutrition in two or four-year college programs.
Pros and cons – You will likely need a degree if you wish to work for a larger company, and if you plan to strike out on your own you’re going to need skills in marketing and sales as well as nutritional knowledge. You’ll probably also get less interaction with people on this job since you can create menus just by talking to them over the phone.
Diet Meal Delivery Service:
What the job entails – You offer three healthy, well-prepared meals a day that are delivered directly to your customers with complete nutritional information. Most likely, these meals are prepared by a chef and the menus are created by a dietitian. Depending on your skills and preferences, you could potentially design the menus, cook the food, run the business from home – or all three!
Required education – Largely this depends on what you’re actually doing. Running the business, oddly enough, actually requires the least education and knowledge, so long as you’re good at marketing and sales and hire qualified people. It is likely, however, that you want someone trained as a chef cooking and a registered dietitian planning the meals.
Pros and cons – As far as starting your own business goes, this is one of the bigger operations listed. At the very least you’ll need a van and a driver to deliver the food, the professional chef and dietitian mentioned above, and probably an industrial kitchen. That means a good amount of start-up money. However, this is a burgeoning business only expected to grow if you can find your niche.
What the job entails – You meet with people and take them through exercise routines. Sometimes this might be a larger class; other times you may have one-on-one training that is personalized for the individual’s needs.
Required education – You’ll need certifications depending on the type of classes you want to teach. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), and Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), among others, offer a variety of certifications and some of them have their own prerequisites.
Pros and cons – Becoming a fitness instructor is great if you love to stay active and enjoy getting up in front of people and showing them what to do. If not, you might want to look elsewhere. You also need to have enough space in your home to use as the classroom. You may be able to find by remodeling your basement or garage, which can be costly. Other potential negatives include the time and cost involved in getting certified.
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Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a freelance (and work at home!) writer who enjoys covering the topics of exercise, meal delivery, and other weight loss options. She is also a contributor to Weight Loss Triumph, a website where you can find Nutrisystem coupons and discount deals. Together with her husband Josh, she runs Weiss-Roessler Writing, a company which provides blogs, articles, press releases, web copy, and other content marketing needs for businesses and individuals, including lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, therapists, energy providers, technology companies, jewelers, and business consultants.