Becoming a fitness instructor is your first step into the fitness industry. This exciting profession, also known as Gym Instructor, represents a great opportunity for anyone who dreamed of becoming the fitness professional.

It is relatively easy to begin a career of a gym instructor. It doesn’t take long to obtain necessary qualifications and anyone with basic fitness knowledge shouldn’t have a hard time passing required assessments.

Fitness Instructor vs Personal Trainer – What’s The Difference?

Fitness instructor and Personal Trainer are very often confused. Not surprisingly as a lot of role specific activities overlap. Here are the main differences:

Fitness instructor Personal Trainer
Needs Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification Needs both Level 2 Gym Instructor & Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications
Typically earns £9/hour Typically earns £20- £50/hour
Confined mostly to gym environment Can provide services in any environment
Not allowed to work with individual clients Allowed to work with individual clients

Fitness instructor salary

Unlike personal trainers majority of fitness instructors are directly employed by health clubs and gym chains. Salaries are determined by location and health club but usually are around £9 /hour. This isn’t much but remember that it is relatively easy to gain gym instructor qualifications.

You can boost your salary running group exercises classes. Most of the gyms offer plenty of different fitness classes which are a way of attracting new clientele. Instructors running group exercise classes can earn anything between £15 – £30/hour.

Quick research shows that the average fitness instructor in the UK earns between £14k – £30k/year. However, it is unlikely you will be able to take your earnings above £20k in the early stage of your career.

Gaining Fitness Instructor Qualifications

It is relatively easily to gain qualifications needed to become a fitness instructor. All you need is to obtain Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification. Fitness instructor courses are rather inexpensive and you should be able to find a suitable course for as low as £449 with Study Active (although prices will vary). Price is usually determined by course format. Full-time courses are usually more expensive than the part-time option.

As it is your entry level qualification we strongly recommend you sign up for a full-time course. You should rather stir away from the so-called online course. While they provide the same certification and follow the same syllabus you won’t get much (if any) face to face tutoring and will have to rely on yourself.

You want to get into the course accredited with one of the major awarding bodies:

There are few things you want to check when choosing the right course. Most of the time courses accredited with one of the awarding bodies listed above however will guarantee you a certain level of course quality.

Some of the providers offer additional courses included in your fitness instructor course. These are so-called CPD course (Continues Professional Development) and give you extra certifications which you can use. These mini-courses open more option for gym instructors. They allow you to run group exercise sessions or so popular boot-camps. Examples of CPD courses are Kettlebell Instructor, Rig Training or Suspension Training.

If your course doesn’t include any CPDs you may enrol to them separately – the usual cost of CPD course is £75 – £150 (depending on course duration and provider). CPD course may really increase your earning potential. A lot of health clubs will pay for your qualifications – highly skilled staff is in their own self-interest.

Fitness instructor role

Most of the time fitness instructor will be responsible for gym inductions. You will have to ensure the person who has signed up for a gym membership knows how to use gym equipment.

Occasionally you will have to correct a form of gym visitor, especially if his exercise form may actually harm him. You will write basic nutritional plans and help gym-goers achieve their fitness goals monitoring their progress.

You may be responsible for gym equipment maintenance. This may include less pleasant duties such as cleaning machines and racking free weights.

You will have to ensure the safety of gym users so removing any hazardous objects from the gym floor will be part of your duty. Most likely you will hold First Aid Certificate (paid for by your employer) and will have to perform first aider duty when required.

Is it worth becoming a fitness instructor?

Because of relatively low salaries and often unsociable hours you may want to think twice before becoming a gym instructor. However, a fitness instructor is just the beginning of your fitness career – not the end goal.

When becoming a gym instructor you should aim into personal trainer qualifications in the long run. Gym instructor won’t bring you decent salary – PT qualification will.

You should use your time spent in the gym to learn ropes. After a year or two in gym instructor role, you should know quite well how the fitness industry works. You should have potential client’s base as well as a good working relationship with gym management which may help you massively when you decide to become a Personal Trainer.

Fitness instructor represents relatively reasonable career path for young people who don’t want or have no opportunity to continue their education on a university level. Ever low hourly rate like £9 is better than rates on offer for some other jobs. Compare working in clean and interesting gym environment to hard work in catering or any other labour intensive roles and you will quickly realise that career in fitness is not a bad choice.