Everywhere you look, you’re always being told to stop lounging in front of the TV, put down the second doughnut and do some exercise. While it might seem like nagging, this new exercise culture has created thousands of jobs. So if you’re passionate about health and fitness, have a positive attitude and bags of motivational skills, then a career as a fitness instructor awaits.


So, what will I actually be doing?

Working as a fitness instructor isn’t just about working your pecs: good instructors advise clients on diet, develop bespoke personal training plans and give vital advice and encouragement.

As a fitness instructor you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the correct way to use exercise equipment
  • Monitor the misuse of equipment
  • Ensure the gym is clean and free of health and safety hazards
  • Deliver exercise classes and workshops
  • Develop personal exercise and diet plans

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The nitty gritty

You could be working at a health club, leisure centre, hospital, university or on a cruise ship, but be warned, this is not your usual 9-5 job. Shift work is common and it’s likely that you’ll be working some evenings and weekends – the times when most people prefer to exercise.

In terms of career progression, you can become a senior instructor or team leader, or even look at moving into the management of a health club. If you want to pass on your skills instead, there are also opportunities to train as a tutor.


Money, money, money

Newly-qualified instructors can expect to earn around £13k per year. With experience and qualifications you can expect to earn up to £20k per year.

If you fancy being your own boss, self-employed instructors can set their own rates for personal training sessions and choose how busy to make their schedule.

See what people are earning in this job


The good points...

“The interaction with a diverse collection of clientele,” says Rob, a university-based fitness instructor. “The varied role ensures you could be working with specialist rehabilitation clients to elite athletes to members of the public wanting more general health benefits.

Each individual has different requirements, needs, timescales and desires that must be catered for. This ensures a thought-provoking and lively working environment.”

Plus it can lead onto other careers, as our video points out.


...and the bad

“The wages - even with post-graduate qualifications in a specialist field there are few well-paid opportunities.”


Is there study involved?

The minimum qualification you need to work as a fitness instructor is either:

  • Level 2 Certificate in fitness instructing (awarded by Active IQ, City & Guilds, CYQ and VTCT), or
  • OCR Level 2 Certificate in teaching exercise and fitness

Both courses qualify you as an instructor on the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and cover key heath and exercise topics, as well as more specialist subjects such as: personal training, exercising to music and water-based exercise.

You will also need:

  • First aid certificate (including CPR)
  • Public liability insurance
  • A Criminal Records Bureau clearance if you want to work with children

The City & Guilds NVQ Diploma in personal training (Level 3) develops your skills as a personal trainer and qualifies you for Level 3 on REPs.

Once you’ve acquiring Level 3 and have some experience under your belt you could take the Level 4 Specialist Exercise Instructor Certificate which includes units for those who want to adapt programmes for people with medical conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and post-stroke care.

Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone


OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

Do you have to be a beefcake to work as a fitness instructor? Definitely not! It’ll definitely help to be physically fit but more important than an athletic body is a passion for health and fitness, great communications skills, endless patience and fabulous motivational skills.


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