The Great Recession seems to finally be turning around – albeit slowly – but many people are still having trouble finding jobs, and other have realized that the security they once thought working for a corporation brought them is an illusion. Because of this, more and more people are looking to start their own businesses and build something for themselves. But what if you’re just not sure what kind of business you’d be qualified for, or which ones have the best chance at succeeding?

One industry that a lot of people don’t give a lot of thought to is fitness and nutrition – but they should, because success stories happen all the time in this industry. Since its birth in the mid-90s, Zumba has spread to 110 countries and 90,000 locations. The Fresh Diet, a healthy meal delivery service created in 2006, has quickly grown to become the “largest U.S. food producer in the freshly-prepared, daily delivery category,” according to their website. Why? Read on and see.

We’re fat, and getting fatter. Want to know how bad the obesity epidemic in America has gotten? Since 1970, obesity rates have more than doubled for not just adults, but children, too. A study done just this year shows that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and over a third are clinically obese. But that’s not even the worst of it. Many experts are predicting that by the year 2030, the obesity rate in the U.S. will be over 50 percent. That’s a lot of people out there that you can really help make a difference within their lifestyle by helping them lose weight and get in shape so that they refer you to friends and get you even more customers.

It’s a big tent. Fitness and nutrition encompasses a lot of different possible businesses and career choices, many of which require completely different skills. You can be…

  • a weight loss consultant, working with people to change their lifestyle so that they can get down to a healthier weight
  • a meal planner, putting together specialized menus for individuals and groups who might have particular eating requirements
  • a health site owner, providing readers with information on diet, fitness, and nutrition, and offering tools like calorie counters
  • a fitness instructor, with certifications from ACE or AFPA,  teaching classes to groups of people or instructing people one-on-one in how to make their bodies stronger and healthier
  • a gym owner, managing operations and schedules and marketing the business to clients to find and retain members
  • a diet meal delivery service, like Nutrisystem or BistroMD, preparing and delivering three nutritious and healthy meals a day to the people who sign up for your service
  • a diet pill inventor, working in your home lab to come up with the next great weight loss drug
  • a doctor offering medical procedures to get rid of excess weight

And even within those types of jobs and businesses, there are subsidiary categories like chefs specializing in healthy meals, dieticians, and self-employed delivery drivers. Some of these professions take more training, time, and money than others, but the point is that the industry has a place for entrepreneurs of many different kinds of abilities. This even applies to the kind of paperwork you might want to file for your business, depending on whether you’re just a single person offering your services or a bigger enterprise with multiple owners that may want to consider becoming an LLC or incorporating.

People are willing to pay. Last May, 20/20 ran a story on the various parts of the fitness and nutrition industry. Just in the United States alone, they said that companies make about $20 billion every year. Other studies that included more tertiary businesses put that number at closer to $40 billion. Many people are looking for a solution to their weight problems, and they are willing to put up good money if someone is putting forward a solution that appears to work. And as health problems from weight-related issues continue to increase, more and more people will start looking at weight-loss solutions as a necessity rather than an optional expense.

Startup cost can be extremely low. Depending on the kind of fitness and nutrition business you’re interested in starting, getting it up and running can be quite inexpensive – especially when compared to the cost of opening a restaurant or clothing boutique. Fitness instructors need only their own skills and certifications (and possibly some equipment, depending on what you want to teach), because it’s possible to have your lessons at the client’s house or even teach classes in a nearby park. Meal planners don’t even need to meet with clients – they can simply buy a good URL address, start a website, and post the meals online. For clients who  need a more personalized menuthey can communicate with them via email. And even meal delivery services can be done from home if you have a reasonably-sized kitchen and access to a van.

You’ll be doing good. While makes sense in business to think about the costs involved and how you can build on partnerships to increase revenue, obesity is a truly serious problem that’s harming way too many people. By opening a fitness and nutrition business that helps people deal with their weight problems, you can start your work every day confident that your business is going to make positive change in the world.

Josh Weiss-Roessler is a freelance writer and small business marketing consultant based in Los Angeles. He’s also a professional resume editor and a contributor to Weight Loss Triumph, a site where you can learn about online diet programs and the best home delivery diet programs. He frequently writes on the topics of health, fitness, and diet, as well as career advice and job hunting. You can learn more about his work on