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Fitness Instructor

The role

A Fitness Instructor helps to improve people’s fitness by leading classes or exercise sessions. They may provide guidance and instruction in general keep fit, or they may specialise in one or a range of activities, such as aerobics, yoga and pilates.

They can work directly for a gym, or on a freelance basis, sometimes working between numerous locations. When working for a gym, Fitness Instructors often assess client’s levels of fitness and design a programme of exercise accordingly to achieve client’s desired wishes.

They will carry out gym inductions on how to use equipment, and help to demonstrate routines to ensure clients understand their programme. Supervision of clients using gym equipment is also part of the job.

They may also take exercise classes such as circuit training, boxercise and spinning.  Some of these classes may be targeted towards specific groups, such as those over 50, or children.

The roles of a Fitness Instructor become wider when they work for a smaller gym, and can include helping out on reception and keeping an eye on the maintenance of the building and its equipment and facilities.

How to become a Fitness Instructor

There are two methods of entry into the career of a Fitness Instructor. A candidate can either study for a recognised qualification, or they could gain on-the-job training through an Apprenticeship scheme. To find out about the latter, visit the Apprenticeships website.

The qualification needed to become a Fitness Instructor is the Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing, which is approved by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). This certificate can be gained through numerous bodies, including City & Guilds, VTCT, EDI, OCR, NCFE, Active IQ, CYQ and Lifetime Awarding.

Within this qualification, candidates can choose to focus on a specialist area: gym, physical activity for children, exercise to music and aqua. Once the certificate has been passed, a candidate is able to join the REPs at Level 2. This provides assurance to gyms and other employers that a candidate is qualified to do their job.

Alongside the qualification and inclusion on the REPs, Fitness Instructors are also required to be covered with public liability insurance, and should also have undergone first aid training that covers CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Skills and knowledge required

  • High level of fitness
  • Good people skills, including the ability to motivate
  • A positive and outgoing approach
  • Knowledge of good nutrition
  • Discretion
  • An understanding of health and safety


The average salary for a Fitness Instructor starting out is around £13,000, with salary varying between £14,000 and £20,000 with time.

Self-employed instructors can charge hourly rates that vary depending on the kind of instruction they are providing in a session.

The hours

Full-time Fitness Instructors often work the average amount of hours for a full-time week: around 37 to 40 a week. They will often work hours that suit clients outside of office hours - namely early mornings, evenings and weekends. Working for a gym, they will often work shifts.

Those self-employed Fitness Instructors will manage their own work diaries and often travel between venues to teach classes in different gyms and community spaces.

Useful websites - Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) - SkillsActive - Apprenticeships - City & Guilds - VTCT - EDI - OCR - NCFE - Active IQ - Central YMCA Qualifications (CYQ) - Lifetime Awarding


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