Fitness Instructor: Job Profile and Role

A healthy body and a healthy mind generally equal a happy life. Being fit and doing your daily exercises can contribute to your inner zen and your overall happiness. However, trying to stay on top of your exercise regime is not always easy when you have to motivate yourself. So, why not use the expertise of a fitness instructor? After all, he or she has the necessary qualifications and skills to ensure the success of your fitness regime.

In this blog, we will not only tell you which qualifications and skills these are. We will also take a look at the expected salaries and typical employers of a fitness instructor. If this is the job you want to pursue, you will also be interested in a day in the life of fitness instructors. Last, but not least, we will give you some important tips for thriving as a fitness instructor.

Short Summary

  • As a fitness instructor, you are responsible for ensuring that your clients reach their personal fitness and health goals. For this, you need to apply your fitness expertise to either customised exercise plans or fitness classes.
  • As a fitness instructor, you are required to have a set of soft skills, such as interpersonal and communication skills. These skills help you to understand your clients’ needs and requirements. They also help you to come up with ideal fitness programs.
  • As a fitness instructor, you need to be your job’s best advertiser. This means that you should always take care of your personal physical fitness and health, thus becoming your future clients’ role model and inspiration.

Job description

A fitness instructor is helping people to achieve their personal fitness and health goals. This, a fitness instructor achieves by developing appropriate exercise and nutrition programs that meet the individual client’s needs and requirements. Besides creating individual fitness programs, it is the job of a fitness instructor to motivate and guide his or her clients and to help them reach their personal goals. This, in turn, requires a high level of interpersonal skills and expertise. Gaining these skills and expertise is the “educational” part of a fitness instructor’s job description.


  • Client Education
  • Motivating Clients
  • Monitoring Progress
  • Nutritional Guidance
  • Group Fitness Classes
  • Maintaining Equipment
  • Assessing Client Needs
  • Demonstrating Exercises
  • Creating Exercise Programs
  • Maintaining Professional Certification

Different types of Fitness Instructors

  • Personal Trainer
  • Mind-Body Instructor
  • Rehabilitation Trainer
  • Group Fitness Instructor
  • Online Fitness Instructor


Fitness instructors in the UK can expect annual salaries ranging from £24,400 to £28,300. What you get paid per year is usually dependent on your work experience and work performance. Your employer, the company size and the location can also influence your annual salary as a fitness instructor.

Working hours

Flexible and long working hours will likely be part of your weekly working hours as a fitness instructor. Even though you may work the classic 9 to 5 hours, this may not always be the case. Take into consideration that it can also happen that you work in the evenings and on the weekends. Depending on your various clients’ needs, early morning starts can also be part of your working hours.

Note that the working hours can further vary when you are working as an online fitness instructor. This kind of work might give you more free time since your online courses might not take place every day.


Typically, a fitness instructor can find employment in gyms and other fitness facilities. As a fully qualified fitness instructor, you can also apply for a job with holiday and wellness resorts. Private persons also sometimes look for personal trainers, which therefore is another job option for you. Moreover, fitness instructors can find work in hospitals and rehabilitation centres.


In general, there are no specific degree requirements when you want to become a fitness instructor. However, most employers request certain certifications and apprenticeships. One of those certifications is the Level 2 certificate in fitness instructing. To take part in this course, you must be at least 16 years old and should have the appropriate GCSEs. You can bolster these entry-level qualifications by acquiring further certifications. These you can find at the Register of Exercise Professionals, for example.

Note that you can do an academic degree, such as a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science or kinesiology. Though not mandatory, this degree may be beneficial for you when applying for a job.

The job as a fitness instructor could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


You now know the required qualifications for becoming a fitness instructor. But what about your personal strengths? Which accompanying skills are needed to get you from a professional and good fitness instructor to a professional and great fitness instructor? Let’s take a look at some of the soft skills you should have or should develop when planning on becoming a fitness instructor.

Is the fitness instructor job a good fit for you? Typically, a fitness instructor should have or develop the following skills:

Motivational Skills

Let’s begin with the skill that is probably the most important: being able to motivate people. Where physical fitness is concerned, not everyone has the same drive and passion to push him- or herself to their personal and physical limits. What your clients need is someone who can motivate them to go that extra mile, to finish a spinning class or to stretch their limbs to do the perfect Yoga pose. Your motivational skills should be accompanied by a strong dose of empathy and knowing when not to push your client any further.

Problem-solving Skills

Needing problem-solving skills does not automatically mean that your clients always have problems. You will actually need these skills to work on ideal fitness programs for your clients. How does that work? Your problem-solving skills help you to figure out levels of activity, physical fitness and possible underlying health issues. By knowing these things, you can then apply a solution, this being the individual client’s perfect exercise regime.

Organisational Skills

It is highly unlikely that you will only work with one client or only teach one class per day. Having brilliant organisational skills is necessary for you to stay on top of all classes and clients’ exercise programs. Managing your teaching schedules is only one part of your organisational skills. Another important skill to include is time-management. This helps you to stay punctual and reliable.

Career Path

Your career as a fitness instructor starts with the required qualifications, which you can acquire by doing appropriate apprenticeships. Further certifications will increase your chances of getting your first job, which you will start at entry the level. By gaining necessary work experience, you can advance to management positions at a health or fitness club. It is also possible for you to become the head of the fitness company you work for.

Educational Background

Most employers require an apprenticeship and Level 2 certifications from their future fitness instructors. Even though an academic degree is not mandatory, it can further your chances when applying for a job in this profession. Possible apprenticeships and university courses can be gym coach apprenticeships or studies in exercise science.

Gaining Experience

Gaining experience as a fitness instructor is not only important, it is mandatory. If you are approaching your future career by doing an apprenticeship, you will already have gained some of the necessary experience. This way, you already have one of the requirements stated in most job advertisements. Gaining experience is also connected to the years you work as a fitness instructor. The longer you work in this field, the more experience you will gain.

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is important if you want to thrive as a fitness instructor. Hardly a day goes by without new trends in healthy eating and effective physical exercise. Knowing those latest trends and applying them in your job as a fitness instructor will not only benefit you. It will also benefit your employers and your clients.

A Day in the Life of a Fitness Instructor

Teaching fitness exercises to your clients is one of the most important things in your working day as a fitness instructor. But being a fitness instructor requires a set of other tasks that you typically also perform.

In this section, we will explore what a day in the life of a fitness instructor can look like.

Schedule Checking and Client Consultation

After a nice and early start – usually at around 5 a.m. – a healthy breakfast and your own workout, you need to check the day’s schedule. This way you know which clients have booked fitness appointments with you. Consulting with these clients is the consequent step after the schedule checking. You can double-check their requirements and finetune certain aspects of their exercise program.

Developing Customised Exercise Plans

Even though you may be teaching general classes, such as yoga for business people, you will likely also have to develop customised exercise plans for one-on-one clients. They have specific requirements, wishes and needs. Only a bespoke fitness program can meet these requirements. Spending time on individual exercise plans is therefore another part of your working day as a fitness instructor.

Personal Education

If you have the time, you should also spend some of it on your personal education. This can involve reading up on the latest fitness and nutrition trends, taking part in workshops or webinars, and doing certifications that improve both your knowledge and your career prospects.

Fitness Instructor Myths and their Reality

Fitness instructors are expected to practice what they preach – quite rightly so since their clients expect a professional education and fitness lesson. However, the more successful you are as a fitness instructor, the harder it will get to live and live up to these expectations. The reality and therefore reason behind this is a simple one: you invest most of your time into your clients’ physical well-being, leaving you hardly any to no time to eat as healthy as your clients believe you do. Needless to say, you should always find the time to live your fitness lessons yourself – your body and mind will thank you for it.

Tips for Thriving as a Fitness Instructor

You are ambitious and want to excel in your job as a fitness instructor? In this case, it cannot hurt to have a few tips for thriving in this profession. Let’s therefore take a look at three great tips for thriving as a fitness instructor:

  • Specify your personal fitness area
  • Work on your interpersonal skills
  • Improve your business knowledge

Specify your Personal Fitness Area

Physical fitness is way more than lifting weights or going for a daily morning run. In the last few years, ever more ways of improving one’s physical fitness have come to the fore. Be it Yoga, Pilates or Zumba, to name but a few of the currently most popular ones. If you really want to thrive as a fitness instructor, you need to first specify your personal area of fitness interest. Only this way can you ensure that you will do an outstanding job in this area and that you will consequently thrive.

Work on your Interpersonal Skills

As a fitness instructor, you communicate with your clients on a daily basis. You also need to be able to decipher their moods and their needs. Having excellent interpersonal skills is vital if you want to do a brilliant job as a fitness instructor. Even if you are already an interpersonal skills master, it will never hurt to continuously improve this skill. By doing so, you ensure that you thrive as a fitness instructor.

Improve your Business Knowledge

Maybe you are thinking of becoming your own boss by starting your own fitness company? If this is the case, you should definitely read up on everything related to a fitness business, including financial management, employee guidance and accounting. Naturally, this should also extend to your future fitness premises and the requirements necessary to open a fitness studio. Improving your business knowledge is therefore another important tip for thriving as a fitness instructor.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a fitness instructor earn?

Typically, a fitness instructor in the UK earns between £24,400 and £28,300 per year. The work experience and the work performance can be salary-influencing factors. The employer, the company size and the location will also affect the annual salary.

What qualifications do I need to become a fitness instructor?

You can choose to become a fitness instructor by either doing an academic degree in exercise science or kinesiology or by doing an appropriate apprenticeship. You will also need Level 2 certifications in fitness instructing. You can further your job prospects and career chances by doing more certifications, which you can find at the Register of Exercise Professionals.

What is the job of a fitness instructor? 

The job of a fitness instructor is to motivate, teach and support clients to reach their personal health and fitness goals. To achieve this, a fitness instructor needs to have a specific hard and soft skill set that contributes to a high level of expertise. This expertise, in turn, is applied to the development of customised exercise classes as well as to specific classes that focus on groups of fitness students.