How To Become A Fitness Instructor

how to become a fitness instructor

If you want to know how to become a fitness instructor, then this is the article for you.

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast bored in your current role, or you’re fresh out of college looking to get started in the world of work, becoming a fitness instructor (also known as a gym instructor) is a great career option.

As more and more people continue to get involved in fitness, there’s a growing demand for fitness professionals. There’s never been a better time to become a gym instructor as there’s plenty of opportunity in the industry and tons of room for progression, too.


Want to get started with your career as a fitness instructor? Why not enquire about our Level 3 Fitness Instructing Qualification now or check out OriGym’s Personal Training Diploma.

To learn about the range of courses that you can study with us, download a free OriGym prospectus here.


Enquire to Become a Fitness Instructor

Kick-start your career in fitness today by enquiring about our Level 3 Fitness Instructing course!

What is a Fitness Instructor and What Does a Fitness Instructor Do?

If you want to know how to qualify as a fitness instructor, you need to know what you’re qualifying for!

In this section, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the role – i.e. what does a fitness instructor do and what are the working hours?

After that, stick with us for the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about how to become a fitness instructor.

What is a Fitness Instructor?

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A fitness instructor is an individual who works within a gym, health club, or leisure centre. As we’ll discuss in more detail very soon, a fitness instructor is required to complete at least a Level 3 course in Fitness Instruction.

As a gym instructor, you will typically spend the majority of your time on the gym floor performing gym inductions, showing members how to use exercise machines, and generally getting people motivated and excited about exercise.

One of the best things about being a fitness instructor is that every day will be different.

Generally, the purpose of the role is to be present on the gym floor, to help members to improve their health and fitness and to teach and encourage the members to get the most out of the facilities.

How you go about these main objectives will differ from day to day depending on the needs and exercise goals of those members.

Whilst you’re here, feel free to download your Our "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer" Guide:

What is The Role of a Fitness Instructor? 

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Now that you have a general overview of ‘what is a fitness instructor’, it makes sense that we list the main duties and responsibilities of a fitness instructor so that you can get a better idea of what the role involves.

So, what does a fitness instructor do? These are the kind of things you can expect to be doing day-to-day:

  • Carry out gym inductions for new members
  • Demonstrate how to perform exercises and use machines
  • Be present on the gym floor and build relationships with members
  • Help members exercise safely
  • Give general advice on exercise and healthy eating
  • Keep the facilities clean and tidy
  • Carry out basic admin duties where required
  • Ensure all equipment is maintained by reporting any faults or damages

Fitness Instructor Working Hours 

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If you land a full-time job as a gym instructor, you’ll be working an average of around 40 hours a week. However, when you work those 40 hours isn’t always set in stone.

Just because the role is full-time, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be working 9-5 Monday to Friday. Depending on the gym, health club, or leisure centre that you work in, your hours could be the same as a regular working week, but it’s equally likely that they’ll be quite the opposite.

The majority of gym-goers will be working 9 til’ 5, meaning that they’ll head to the gym before work, later in the evening, or on the weekend. Because early mornings and evenings tend to be a fitness facilities’ busier times, a gym instructor is required to have a more flexible availability for work.

Fitness instructor working hours vary from company to company, but most will schedule shifts on a rota basis. Some weeks your shift pattern could include evenings or weekends and others it may not, there’s no universal shift pattern for gym instructors.

How to Become A Qualified Fitness Instructor

If you still want to train to be a fitness instructor after reading about the role, your next question is probably something along the lines of ‘what qualifications do I need?’. Fortunately, you’ve landed on this blog post!

In this section, we’re going to explain what you need to do to qualify as a fitness instructor. After that, we’ll cover some other important points, such as the skills and traits that make a good fitness instructor.

A little further on, we’ll also talk about the more practical side of things, such as how long it takes to qualify, how much you can earn, as well as where you can find a job!

If you can’t decide whether to become a certified fitness instructor or a PT, find OriGym’s answer to ‘Should I become a personal trainer?’ here.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Be A Fitness Instructor?

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To qualify as a gym instructor, you’ll need a Level 3 Certificate in Fitness Instructing

When you’re looking up qualifications, you might see this course advertised as a Level 3 Certificate in Gym Instructing or a Level 3 Personal Trainer course, all are the same qualification.

There are no entry requirements for the Level 3 qualification, however, you will need to be at least 16 years old to enrol onto the course.

Honestly, we’d say that getting qualified as a fitness instructor is definitely achievable. The content of the course is around the same level as GCSE so it’s not particularly difficult to pass.

All Level 3 Fitness Instructor courses should include modules that cover anatomy and physiology, the principles of exercise, and health and safety. Here at OriGym, our Level 3 Certificate in Fitness Instructing covers the following topics: 

  • Motivating Groups and Individuals
  • Tailoring Training Sessions
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Principles of Exercise and Fitness
  • Health, Safety, and Welfare
  • Learning the Business
  • Programme Writing and Delivery

From this qualification, you’ll gain the fundamental knowledge and skills to be a good fitness instructor and begin your career in the fitness industry. 

You will learn how to create tailored exercise programmes, you’ll know which exercises and machines work which muscle groups, and you’ll develop the confidence to share your knowledge to support gym members on their fitness journey whilst ensuring their health and safety. 

Regulated Courses 

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If you’re wanting to complete a Level 3 fitness instructor course, it’s important to know about course accreditation and regulations. Whilst it’s technically not the law that a fitness professional has a qualification that is regulated by a governing body and accredited by CIMSPA, it is strongly recommended.

Ofqual is a government-run organisation that regulates the award of NVQ and RQF qualifications in England. Ofqual (the sister organisation of Ofsted) set the qualification frameworks that all colleges and training providers have to adhere to in order to meet the requirements of a regulated qualification.

Ofqual set the necessary learning outcomes and ‘Levels’ which indicate the job role that you are qualified to perform. For example, a Level 3 Fitness Instructing course qualifies you to work as a fitness instructor.

On the other hand, a generic ‘Personal Trainer course’ (usually a cheap option – yes, it is too good to be true) that doesn’t state the level of the course, won’t be regulated and so you won’t technically be qualified to work as a Personal Trainer.

To know if a course is regulated by Ofqual, look out for these logos on a college or training providers website:

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These are awarding bodies (also known as governing bodies) that act between Ofqual and your college or training provider. They’ll be the ones who actually give you your qualification, so any qualification worth having will have the logo of an awarding body and the Ofqual logo on the bottom of the certificate.

These logos on your certificate will confirm the authenticity of your qualifications to potential employers. One of the main reasons that you need to find a course that is regulated by an awarding body is that the majority of potential employers, especially big companies, won’t even consider you for an interview if your fitness instructor certificate doesn’t have the stamp of approval from an awarding body.

Not only that, you’ll need a regulated qualification in order to get the relevant fitness instructor insurance. Insurance companies will require that you submit proof that you have a certified qualification so that they know you have completed an appropriate level of training before they insure you.

Course Accreditation

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When looking for a fitness instructor or personal training course, you should also be looking for accredited qualifications.

A fitness qualification can be accredited by CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity).

Having an accredited qualification will show your potential employers and clients that you have a qualification that meets nationally agreed standards. A lot of big fitness companies work alongside accreditors like CIMSPA and will only employ fitness professionals that have accredited qualifications.

Even in the case of smaller companies, having an accredited qualification ensures that your qualification is recognised by your employer and it shows that the content of the course is of an appropriate standard.

Are OriGym courses regulated by Ofqual? Are they accredited?

At OriGym, all of our PT courses are dual accredited by CIMSPA. They also have the backing of Focus Awards, who award vocational qualifications.

Do I Need A First Aid Qualification?

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Despite what a lot of people think, a first aid qualification is not the answer to ‘how to become a fitness instructor’. Being first aid trained isn’t essential, however, ensuring health and safety in a gym environment is a very important part of the role of a fitness instructor, so having the qualification will only be an advantage.

You don’t need to be qualified, but fitness facilities need at least one first aid trained member of staff to be working at all times. Because of this, some employers may require you to be first aid trained. Even if that’s not the case, having the qualification will still be an advantage when it comes to looking for employment.

Being a qualified first aider will also open more opportunities when it comes to promotion and progression. Whilst being first aid trained isn’t essential in order to be a personal trainer either, there are a lot of advantages if you are.

For example, during a one to one training session as a PT, both you and your client will feel more comfortable knowing that you are trained to deal with any emergency situations. This is especially true if you decide to start your own business or do personal training sessions at home.

Another benefit of being first aid trained is that it will reduce the cost of your insurance. Insurance providers will see you as a lower risk and therefore they’ll offer you a lower rate. Which brings us to our next point – the fitness instructor insurance requirements.

Read more about this topic in this OriGym guide: ‘Do personal trainers need to be first aid qualified?’.

Fitness Instructor Insurance Requirements

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Insurance isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s definitely recommended for all fitness professionals.

A lot of employers will require that you insure yourself, and if you choose to do any freelance work, we can’t stress enough how important it is to be covered by an insurance policy.

If you’re working for a big company, you might come under their insurance policy – this is definitely worth checking out. If you’re covered, great! If not, we 100% advise you to take out your own plan.

What Insurance do Fitness Instructors Need? 

Public liability insurance is the main insurance policy that you should take out as a fitness instructor.

As a fitness instructor, you will usually work in a gym, but you may still need public liability insurance to protect you from having to pay to replace any equipment that you are responsible for damaging or losing. This is especially important if you work as a freelancer and hold a group fitness class either in a gym or in an independent venue.

Having public liability insurance will cover you against any accusations of injury from members, it will cover the costs of resolving a legal dispute if a member alleges that you or your advice has resulted in them getting injured. 


Enquire to Become a Fitness Instructor

Kick-start your career in fitness today by enquiring about our Level 3 Fitness Instructing course!

What Does It Take to Become A Fitness Instructor?

Now that we’ve answered ‘How do I become a fitness instructor?’ in terms of the necessary courses and qualifications, we’re going to talk about the skills and attributes that you need to have for this role.

If you’re prepared to get your head down, becoming a qualified gym instructor is definitely achievable. Our Level 3 Gym Instructor Course is an entry-level course, so there aren’t any entry requirements (you do need to be 16+) but there are a couple of skills and attributes that will help you to be successful in the role.

No, we’re not talking aesthetics and strength! There’s a bit of a stigma around the fitness industry, where people assume that they need to be ripped to become a fitness instructor – that’s simply not the case.

How you look isn’t all that relevant to whether you have what it takes to become a successful gym instructor – but having the drive, passion and the right skill set is essential.

What Makes A Good Fitness Instructor?

We have a whole guide to what makes a good fitness instructor here- but below we'll outline the main qualities needed to become a fitness instructor! 

#1 Passionate About Fitness

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Whilst you don’t have to be the strongman type to be a fitness instructor, a passion for fitness is still a must!

Within this role (which we explain in more detail a little further on) you’ll be spending a lot of your time on the gym floor or being active in exercise classes – perfect if you’ve got a passion for all things fitness but a quick way to poor job satisfaction if you don’t.

Being a gym instructor is a brilliant career choice, but only if you want to know ‘how can I become a fitness instructor‘ for the right reasons. What we mean is that if you think that because the fitness industry is booming, you’re guaranteed an easy ride and a high salary, that’s simply not the case. 

There are a lot of opportunities within the industry, but they won’t be handed to you. You’ll find that you naturally work a lot harder, and therefore get further if you enjoy what you do. So, a love for exercise is absolutely essential.

If you’re passionate about fitness, and you work hard, you’ll have a long and successful career as a gym instructor! 

#2 Approachable

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As mentioned above, having shredded abs is not within the answer to ‘how do I become a fitness instructor’. In fact, some gym-goers can actually find fitness instructors who are completely ripped a little intimidating. This is especially the case for complete beginners. 

Walking into the gym for the first time can be daunting enough and the role of a fitness instructor involves making this experience as comfortable as possible.

Obviously, you’re into fitness so you’ll be in pretty good shape, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not the biggest or the strongest person in the room. We all love a bit of fitness inspo for some motivation, but sometimes being relatable works just as well – if not better!

If people can relate to you, you’ll be seen as a more approachable member of staff than the stereotypical fitness professional.

Being approachable is important because it will allow you to build good relationships with members, which will lead to the world of opportunity when it comes to progressing in your career. 

If the members feel comfortable around you, they’ll become the potential members at your new fitness class, or they’ll make up your client base if you decide to become a personal trainer. 

#3 Confident 

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How to become a fitness instructor? Be confident! This role is very people-centred so being confident is another attribute that is essential to be successful in this role.  

During the average day on the job, you’ll be spending a lot of time with people. That could be talking to somebody about their goals, motivating them through a workout, or showing a new member around the gym.

We’re not saying that you need to be a really loud person who is always the centre of attention – although it’s fine if you are – but confidence is key.

By portraying yourself as a confident individual, the members of the gym will have confidence in you. This means that they’ll trust your advice and they’ll come to you for all things fitness related.

Check out this OriGym guide for help with your fitness instructor CV!

#4 Communication

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Good communication skills may seem like a standard skill for any role, but again this is one of the essential attributes of anybody who wants to have a successful career as a fitness instructor.

Communicating within your team of colleagues and with members is central to almost everything that you’ll be doing within the day-to-day responsibilities of the role.

We’re not just talking about having the confidence to talk to people (we’ve discussed that above), we mean being able to communicate with and understand people.

Rather than just talking at people, you need to have the ability to listen to them and figure out the best way to communicate with them.

Everybody is different, and people respond to different types of communication. If you can work out the best way to communicate with each client and colleague, you’ll be able to develop better relationships with them.

#5 Motivated

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In order to be successful in this role, you’ll need to be both motivated and motivating.

Being a fitness instructor is a pretty active job, not only because you’ll be on your feet a lot of the time but because you need to be seen as somebody who enjoys exercising – even on the days that you aren’t really feeling it (we all have those days, we’re not judging!).

Having the motivation to stay positive and active yourself sets a good standard for the members and it will motivate them to have the same attitude towards fitness.

Whilst this isn’t strictly one of the roles and responsibilities of the job, you will act as a kind of ‘role model’ in the gym. You’ll be leading by example, so you should be motivated to keep yourself fit and healthy, as well as committed to helping others do the same.

Being motivated ties in with being passionate about fitness, as well as having confidence. Together, these skills set the foundation of a successful gym instructor and will help you to encourage other people to enjoy exercise as much as you.

#6 Organised

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Being organised is another skill that is necessary in pretty much any job out there, being punctual and prepared are two things that we should all strive to be – but these skills are even more important in the fitness industry.

The gym instructor working hours aren’t always your usual 9 to 5. Because a lot of the members will be busy during standard working hours, a gym instructor is required to work during the gym’s busier times – that can include early mornings, evenings, and weekends.

Rota’s vary between different gyms but often your shifts will follow different patterns from week to week, so you need to be able to plan and organise yourself around your changing hours. 

Being organised, particularly being able to adapt to non-traditional working hours, is a skill that will come in handy if you decide to progress your career.

#7 Patience

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No matter where you work as a gym instructor, you’ll be working with people of various ages and fitness abilities. You need to remember that some people pick up things a lot easier than others and not everybody progresses at the same rate, but they will get there. 

As well as being approachable like we discussed above, being patient with people will also allow you to build those strong relationships with members in the gym.

Sticking to a fitness routine is tough, people will give up and start again it’s just the way it goes. You’re not there to judge! Be patient with people and use your motivational skills to try and encourage them to stick it out even when they feel like throwing in the towel.

How Much Does a Fitness Instructor Earn?

Now that you know what is expected of you in terms of the everyday roles and responsibilities, obviously, you need to know how much a fitness instructor earns – this is your potential job after all!

No matter how passionate you are about a career in the fitness industry, the purpose of working is to make money, so this is an important point to cover.

How Much Do Fitness Instructors Make?

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According to Indeed, the average yearly salary of a fitness instructor in Ireland is €22,561, or €13.11 an hour.

It’s important to point out that these are the average salaries. Whilst averages are an easy way to illustrate how much you will earn as a fitness instructor, they should be used as more of an indication of the wage you can expect to earn rather than an absolute figure. 

What we mean is, there’s potential to earn quite a lot more than that average depending on the company you work for and the incentives that they offer.

Considering you only need to complete a Level 3 Gym Instructor course for the role (an entry-level qualification) we’d say that this is a pretty decent salary.

Most people who want to know how to train as a fitness instructor are looking for their first step into the fitness industry. If the average salary is lower than you expected, consider that this reflects the fact that being a fitness instructor is an entry-level career. Think of it as a starting salary for a job that will lead to a higher paid role in the future.

For example, after acquiring the necessary skills and experience from your time as a fitness instructor, and a Level 4 Personal Trainer course, you could start your own business as a personal trainer.

If you run a successful PT business you’ll have the opportunity to set your own prices and earn in excess of €50k.

Now, it’s all well and good having the right skills and knowing how much you’re going to be paid, but there are still some important questions that need answering. Keep reading because we’re about to get to more of the practical side of things, answering questions such as ‘how long does it take to become a fitness instructor?’ and discussing the best places to find a job. 

After that, we’ll go through the benefits of working as a gym instructor and discuss your opportunities for further progression within the industry – definitely worth sticking around for!

How Long Does It Take to Become A Fitness Instructor?

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Now that you know the ins and outs of how to become a fitness instructor in terms of the necessary skills, qualifications, and insurance, let’s talk about time frames. One of the best things about training to become a fitness instructor is the variety of study methods available.

The answer to ‘how long does it take to become a fitness instructor?’ is completely dependent on how long it takes you to complete an accredited Level 3 Fitness qualification. 

The amount of time it takes you to complete this qualification is all down to the study method that you choose. The 3 main study methods for this qualification are full-time, part-time, and online fitness instructor courses.

Depending on your current situation, you can choose to complete your qualifications around a current job or family commitments, or to do a full-time course to speed up the process.

A full-time level 3 course with OriGym involves 2 weeks of intensive study, we sometimes refer to this as a ‘fast-track’ course because you’ll be able to complete the course in as little as 2 weeks.

Of course, not everybody can commit to spending Monday to Friday in a classroom from 9 am – 5:30 pm for two weeks, so there are other more flexible study modes available.

The average time it takes for students to complete our part-time or online course is 6-8 weeks. These courses are a lot more flexible so that you can work them around your busy schedule.

With both the part-time and online course you can work through the content at your own pace meaning you can take as long or as little time as you like. Whilst the average student takes 6-8 weeks to pass, we’ve had students complete these courses in less time and we’ve had students who chose to take a little longer.

It's hard to say exactly how long these study methods take as there are a lot of contributing factors, such as how much free time you have to spend on the course, your academic ability, and whether you need to resit an assessment.

Now, we guess you’re wondering how an online fitness instructor course works? 

Obviously being a gym instructor is a physical role, but you can still acquire all of the necessary skills online and then apply them in a practical setting. Keep reading because we’re about to explain how.

How to Become A Certified Fitness Instructor Online? 

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Online or ‘remote learning’ courses have a variety of different learning resources, including e-books, online lectures, and interactive quizzes. 

At OriGym, our online students can also get in touch with experienced tutors 7 days a week over the phone, via email, and through a chatbox service, meaning that they have access to just as much support as a full-time student.

The only part of an online fitness instructor course that is not online is the final practical assessment. That means that if you pass your practical exam on your first attempt, your physical attendance will only be required for one day.

Where to Find A Job as A Fitness Instructor?

By now you should have all the right information regarding how to become a qualified fitness instructor, but of course there’s more to it! It’s all well and good being qualified, but the next step is finding a job.

Unlike personal training, there isn’t really the option to be a self-employed fitness instructor full-time. So, a typical fitness instructor will work at a fitness facility such as a gym, a leisure centre, or a health club.

When it comes to looking for a job, there will be plenty of positions advertised on general job boards like Indeed, Total Jobs, and Reed.

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You should also look for positions advertised on individual company websites and social media pages. Depending on the facilities close to you, keep an eye on the careers area of the likes of Sports Direct Fitness, Virgin Active, and JD Gyms.

If you completed your qualifications with a reputable training provider or a college, chances are that they’ll offer a range of career services to help you find a job as a fitness instructor. This can include helping with a fitness instructor CV and guidance for interviews.

The best training providers (ourselves included) will have connections with big fitness companies and have their own job boards exclusively for their students and alumni. 

Outside of this and the mainstream job boards, there are some industry-specific job boards worth checking out too, such as Ireland Active. 

All of these websites have the option to filter for fitness-industry specific roles, and you’ll find job posts from some leading fitness providers, including David Lloyd Clubs and Total Fitness.

5 Benefits of Being a Fitness Instructor

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If you’re truly passionate about health and fitness, a career as a gym instructor is so more than ‘just a job’. In addition to the financial benefits, here are some of the other benefits of pursuing this career.

Once we're done here, check out these recommended posts:

#1 Company Perks

As a gym instructor, you’ll most likely be employed by gyms, health clubs, or leisure centres. One of the perks of the job is that most of these companies will offer employee benefits.

This can include free or discounted memberships, and the use of the gym, pool, and sauna depending on the facilities.  

#2 A Rewarding Career

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It’s obvious that as somebody who is passionate about health and fitness, being able to have a career that is focused on all thing’s fitness is brilliant and probably the most significant benefit of being a fitness instructor.

What a lot of people only realise once they’ve started their career in this industry is how rewarding it is to share your passion for exercise with others. Within this role, you’ll find that you feel a real sense of achievement and reward when you see that your work has inspired somebody else to begin their own exercise journey.

#3 Flexible Working Pattern 

If working 9 -5 Monday to Friday isn’t for you, working as a fitness instructor is a good option. Who knows, not wanting to work these standard hours might be the reason that you want to know how to become a fitness instructor.

Flexibility will depend on your employer but generally, you’ll work a variety of day, evening, and weekend shifts – a benefit for anybody who is bored with their regular routine.

Check out this guide to becoming a part-time personal trainer!

#4 Physical and Mental Benefits

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Having an active career has numerous benefits for both your physical and your mental health. As a gym instructor, you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet and exercising. This will leave you feeling good inside and out!

When you compare this kind of job to office-based work, a career in the fitness industry has a ton of health benefits.

Hadgraft et al. (2016) highlighted the negative health implications of sedentary working behaviours, mainly office roles. In a preventive medicine report that assessed the health implications of prolonged sitting time in the workplace Hadgraft explained:

“Consistent evidence has linked high levels of sitting with chronic diseases and premature mortality, and prolonged sitting with cardio-metabolic risk. Thus, exposure to excessive workplace sitting is an emerging workplace health and safety issue.”

If you want to know more about this topic, check out the full study here.

On the other hand, academic studies have consistently found positive correlations between leading an active lifestyle and improved physical and mental health.

According to Fraser et al. (2015):

“Physical activity has been consistently recommended for the prevention and management of many chronic physical health conditions and can also have benefits for mental health.”

This shows that not only does an active career mean you’ll avoid the negative health implications of office work, but you’ll also enjoy the further benefits of being an active individual!

#5 Work in A Growing Industry

Want the good news? The fitness industry has been growing continuously for years. The better news? That growth is continuing, and it isn’t expected to stop!

That makes an exercise-related career even more exciting because it means that you’ll have great opportunities for employment and even more prospects for progression. Check out the different pathways to progression below!

Alternatively, check out this OriGym guide to professional development in the fitness industry!

Opportunities for Progression

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Now that you know how to become a fitness instructor, how are you going to make the most out of your career in the industry?

There are opportunities to become a fitness instructor, but positions can be competitive. So, what do you need to do? You need to keep up with the competition. No, better yet, you need to be the best out of the bunch!

The industry is in demand and a lot of people know that. There are more people getting involved in personal fitness, but at the same time, there are a lot of people looking to start a career in the industry in response to that demand.

So, how can you further your career within this industry? What are the opportunities for promotion and progression, and how can you make them yours? Here’s how! 

How to Progress as A Fitness Instructor 

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For most people who are Level 3 qualified, becoming a personal trainer is the logical next step. To become a personal trainer, you’ll need to complete a Level 4 personal training qualification.

This qualification will cover similar topics to your Level 4 qualification but in a lot more detail. The course will also cover additional topics, including nutrition, how to create training plans for 1-1 sessions, and how to tailor plans for specific groups of clients (for example, older people, pre- and post-natal clients, and disabled clients).

What Is the Difference Between Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor? 

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Whilst part of the gym instructor job description is to give generic fitness advice, they aren’t qualified to create specific plans. Personal trainers have a lot more freedom in their role. 

As a PT, you can work for a gym or start your own business as a freelance trainer. The main role of a personal trainer is to create tailored training plans for specific clients and hold 1-1 sessions with clients.

Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer?

If you’re yet to embark on your career within the fitness industry, and you’re contemplating whether to qualify as a fitness instructor or a personal trainer, there are definitely more opportunities if you’re qualified as a PT.  

As a qualified PT, you’ll have all of the prospects of a gym instructor, and then some!

If you haven’t got any fitness qualifications yet, becoming a personal trainer is possible with our entry-level Personal Training Diploma. The diploma combines both the Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications, so you’ll graduate the course as a qualified PT. 

Become an Exercise Referral Specialist

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The opportunity to progress in your fitness career isn’t limited to becoming a personal trainer. With a Level 3 Gym Instructor qualification, you can get on to a Level 4 Diploma in Exercise Referral course. This would qualify you to start an exciting career as an exercise referral specialist.

As an exercise referral specialist, your role will involve taking referrals from GP's and medical professionals to help improve the overall health and wellbeing of individuals with chronic health conditions or illnesses.

You’ll create tailored fitness programmes and provide exercise and nutritional support for those with ongoing conditions, for example, diabetes. 

There is a growing demand for exercise referral specialists in order to meet the needs of individuals in special populations who require specific exercise and nutritional support. Because of this demand, this is a career option that has a lot of opportunities!

Being an exercise referral specialist will lead to a well-paid career, as there are lots of opportunities in both public and private healthcare.

Not only is this a career with good potential in terms of pay, we’d also say that it’s one of the most rewarding careers in the fitness industry. 

As more and more people are wanting to become a qualified fitness instructor or PT, having a niche qualification like this one is a huge advantage.

Find out exactly how to become an Exercise Referral Specialist here!

A Career in Nutrition  

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As a fitness instructor (but also without a Level 3 qualification!) you could steer your career in the direction of nutrition specifically. Here at OriGym, we offer an entry-level Level 5 Advanced Nutrition for Sport & Exercise course, after which you would be able to work as a Qualified Nutrition Advisor.

As a Nutrition Advisor, you can offer dieting assistance and sports nutrition advice to clients, athletes, and individuals within special populations.

Whilst a fitness instructor or a personal trainer can give guidance in terms of diet and nutrition, completing the Level 5 Advanced Nutrition for Sport & Exercise qualification will allow you to create specific meal plans based on an individual’s goals.

With this qualification, you could increase your earnings by taking a nutrition-specific job post, or you could add to your earnings as a fitness instructor.

Level 5 Qualifications  

If you want to build your skillset beyond a Level 4 qualification (either in Personal Training or Exercise Referral), there are other Level 5 qualifications which will add to your employability and expand your client portfolio.

Having completed your Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications, you could go on to study a Level 5 Obesity and Diabetes Control, or a Level 5 Lower Back Pain Management (LBP) Course (both of these examples are courses that we offer here at OriGym). 

A Level 5 qualification is the highest level recognised within the fitness industry so having one of the above qualifications or having completed the Level 5 Nutrition course mentioned above, will put you in the top tier of exercise professionals.

There is quite a lot of opportunities to work as a fitness instructor, but positions in the fitness industry are becoming pretty competitive. Having a Level 5 qualification will really make you stand out to employers and clients, it will greatly increase the number of roles that you can apply to, and increase your potential earnings.

Want to find out more about the content and career prospectus of our Level 5 courses?

Become A Fitness Tutor 

become fitness instructor

Finally, the opportunities in this industry don’t stop at coaching and training clients. If you like to think ahead, then a career as a fitness tutor is worth considering.

A fitness tutor is a qualified fitness professional who teaches and assesses fitness qualifications. They usually work for training providers or colleges, teaching aspiring gym instructors and personal trainers.

This is a brilliant career choice for an experienced fitness instructor or PT. 

Before You Go!

Now that you know how to become a fitness instructor, what are you waiting for?!

If you’re ready to start your new career, enquire online about our Level 3 Gym Instructor course today.

Alternatively, download our latest course prospectus for more information on the details of our courses.


Fraser et al. (2015). Physical activity attitudes and preferences among inpatient adults with mental illness. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. 24 (5), pp. 413-420.

Hadgraft, N. et al. (2016). Office workers' objectively assessed total and prolonged sitting time: Individual-level correlates and worksite variations. Preventive Medicine Reports. 4, pp. 184-191.


Enquire to Become a Fitness Instructor

Kick-start your career in fitness today by enquiring about our Level 3 Fitness Instructing course!

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Enthusiast & Blogger

Abbie is a work-hard, play-hard fitness junkie turned blogger. She loves a scenic run and a good upbeat exercise class. You can usually find her on the front row of a spin class on a Saturday morning.

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