Fitness instructor

Fitness instructor article illustration


Fitness instructors build fitness participation of new and existing members through fitness experiences that meet their needs. They deliver fitness instruction to individuals, with the use of equipment, or to a group, through fitness classes. Both individual and group instructors have the purpose of promoting and delivering safe and effective exercise.  Depending on the specific situation, some additional knowledge, skills and competences may be required.

Includes group fitness instructor.

Fitness instructors typically do the following duties:

  • Demonstrate or explain how to perform various exercises and routines to minimize injuries and improve fitness
  • Watch clients do exercises to ensure that they are using correct technique
  • Provide options during workouts to help clients feel successful
  • Monitor clients’ progress and adapt programs as needed
  • Explain and enforce safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment
  • Give clients information or resources about topics such as nutrition and lifestyle
  • Give emergency first aid if needed.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to fitness instructor:

strength and conditioning coach
indoor cycling trainer
group fitness instructor
water aerobics instructor
aerobics instructor
indoor cycling instructor
spinning instructor
swimming instructor
aqua fitness instructor
fitness specialist
aqua aerobics instructor
fitness class instructor
gymnastics instructor
dance fitness instructor
fitness group instructor

Working conditions

Fitness instructors work in various settings, such as gyms, health clubs, community centers, and fitness studios. They may work full-time or part-time, and their hours can vary depending on their clients’ schedules. Some instructors work early mornings, late evenings, or weekends to accommodate their clients’ availability. Fitness instructors may also work outside of traditional fitness facilities, such as in parks or private homes.

Minimum qualifications

Fitness instructors typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer to hire fitness workers, particularly personal trainers, who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field such as recreation and fitness or healthcare and related studies. Programs in exercise science, kinesiology, physical education, or related majors often include courses in nutrition, exercise techniques, biology, and anatomy.

Most fitness instructors have certification related to the area of fitness in which they specialize. Group fitness instructors may begin work without certification, but employers often encourage or require them to get their credentials. Most fitness instructors receive certification for their preferred type of training, such as yoga, kickboxing, or strength training.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Fitness instructor is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Fitness instructor career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to fitness instructor.

leisure attendant
personal trainer
Pilates teacher
sport therapist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of fitness instructor. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of fitness instructor with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

construction general contractor
quantity surveyor
firefighter instructor
complementary therapist
3D animator

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of fitness instructor.

  • Promote fitness customer referral: Invite customers to bring friends and family along and promote their fitness activities in their social environment.
  • Safely instruct about fitness: Provide safe and effective fitness instruction.
  • Identify customer objectives: Identify individual motives resulting in short, medium and long term fitness goals.
  • Adapt fitness exercises: Suggest relevant exercise adaptations or options to allow for individual client differences or needs and provide participants with advice on intensity and how to progress their individual performance and results.
  • Provide fitness customer care: Observe clients/members at all times and inform them where necessary about health and safety requirements and emergency procedures.
  • Integrate exercise science to the design of the programme: Design movements and exercises according to the functions of the musculoskeletal system and biomechanical concepts. Develop programme according to physiological concepts, the cardio-respiratory and energy systems.
  • Correct fitness customers: Observe customers who are exercising and suggest corrections and adaptations as necessary to ensure techniques and procedures (posture, range of motion, control, timing and form) are safe and effective.
  • Promote healthy lifestyle: Provide information to clients about the role of physical activity, modes of exercise and related services and the importance of healthy activities for daily living.
  • Provide fitness customer service: Welcome clients/members, keep records and bookings of their activities, and direct them to other fitness instructors for technical assistance or to appropriate members of staff for guidance and support.
  • Maintain the exercise environment: Help to provide a safe, clean and friendly fitness environment.
  • Motivate fitness clients: Positively interact with and motivate fitness clients to participate in regular physical activity and promote fitness exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Collect client fitness information: Collect fitness information relating to individual clients; Identify client information which is to be collected and advise clients of correct procedures, protocols and risks prior to commencing physical assessment and exercising.

ISCO group and title

3423 – Fitness and recreation instructors and program leaders

  1. Fitness instructor – ESCO
  2. Fitness Trainers and Instructors : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Fitness Instructor Job Description – Betterteam
  4. Featured image: Image by Welcome to All ! ツ from Pixabay
Last updated on April 26, 2023

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