How To Become An Aerobics Instructor: Everything You Need to Know

how to become an aerobics instructor

If you want to pursue an exciting career in the fitness industry then looking into how to become an aerobics instructor is a great idea.

When you think of aerobics, you probably think of an 80’s stereotype wearing lycra, sweatbands and leg warmers. However, modern day aerobics is slightly different in that it isn’t quite as ‘cheesy’. Aerobics in 2021 is still pretty similar, with a big focus on choreographed classes that combine aerobic activity with bodyweight strengthening exercises.

In this guide, we are going to cover everything you need to know about how to become an aerobics instructor including:

If you’re confident that a career in the fitness industry is right for you, enquire about our Level 3 Fitness Instructing course or check out the range of personal trainer courses that you can study with us here at OriGym. 

Alternatively, you can download our full course prospectus to learn more!


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History of Aerobics

The term ‘aerobics’, along with the specific sequence of exercise, was originally developed by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, an exercise physiologist who developed exercises to prevent coronary artery sickness in military personnel.

He eventually decided that the general public would also benefit from this, so in 1968, he published a book titled ‘Aerobics’. The practice was later made popular in the form of dance aerobics by Jackie Sorenson, who developed the aerobic style dance routines that we know today.

In the 1970s, dance instructor Judi Shepherd Missett decided to switch up her dance classes by putting more of an emphasis on fitness than dance technique, leading her to develop what we now know as ‘Jazzercise’.

In 1989, step aerobics was developed by professional gymnast Gin Miller. After suffering a knee injury, Miller’s doctor recommended that she step up and down on to a milk crate to help strengthen the muscles around the knee, inspiring the concept of step aerobics!

Becoming an Aerobics Instructor: 3 Things to Consider

Before we can get into discussing how to become an aerobics instructor, there are a couple of things that you should think about - here they are!

#1 Why Become an Aerobics Instructor?

A career as an aerobics instructor, whether part time or full time, offers a varied but rewarding role. The sheer amount of aerobic classes that you can teach, and the diversity of members that come to classes, are just two of many reasons why everyday is different when you work as an aerobics instructor.

The role allows for plenty of creativity, and you will often have the opportunity to create and choreograph your own routines. If you choose to set up and run your own classes, then you will be able to tailor your classes to what you enjoy and to what best suits your participants!

#2 What Style of Aerobics Do You Want to Teach?

When looking into how to become an aerobics instructor, one of the first things to think about is what style of aerobics you want to teach.

Nowadays, there are a huge variety of aerobics classes to choose from. There’s your classic aerobics class, which consists of a cardio segment followed by an MSE (Muscular Strength and Endurance) section, and then of course there’s the variations of these classes: step aerobics, aqua aerobics and dance aerobics, for example, Zumba.

Other exercise classes that involve aerobic activity, and therefore count as an ‘aerobics class’ include pilates, swimming, and indoor cycling. There are also branded classes, for example Les Mills classes such as SH’BAM, BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT.

Explore more on Les Mills instructing and sessions with OriGym's complete guide.


#3 Is Training to be an Aerobics Instructor Right for You?

The final step to take before embarking on your journey towards becoming an aerobics instructor, is to ask yourself a couple of questions to ensure that the role is right for you.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are you passionate, enthusiastic, and able to motivate others?
  • Are you confident enough to lead a group of participants?
  • Are you open to changing up your routines and playlists often?
  • Are you creative?
  • Do you mind working early mornings or evenings?

If you’re interested in working as a freelancer, you’ll also have to think about whether you mind travelling between multiple venues to run classes.

If the answers to these questions do not highlight any barriers, then the role of an aerobics instructor could be perfect for you! If that is the case and you’re still keen on starting this career, keep on reading because we’re about to explain what you need to do to become an aerobics instructor right now.

How to Become an Aerobics Instructor

So, you’ve decided you want to become an aerobics instructor, but where do you start? There’s so much information out there that it can be pretty overwhelming, especially as filtering out the relevant information from the not so relevant can seem like an impossible task. 

But not to worry, that’s why we’ve put this article together! In this section, we will discuss how to get qualified, what skills you need, and how to get insured. 

How Do You Become an Aerobics Instructor? Get Qualified! 

In order to become a certified aerobics instructor, you will need to complete an Exercise to Music qualification.

The Exercise to Music course is a Level 3 qualification, and it is referred to as a ‘Level 3 Aerobics Instructor course’ simply for the fact that it qualifies you to work as an aerobics instructor.

Whatever you choose to call it, this course has no prerequisites, meaning that you do not need any previous qualifications to enrol. This makes it a perfect starting point to get your foot in the door within the fitness industry. You do, however, need to be at least 16 years old before you can start the course.

In terms of content, the aerobics instructor qualification covers modules such as Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology and Level 3 Principles of Exercise. Within these modules, you will learn about the muscles and joints, and their respective movements (eg. flexion and extension, abduction and adduction). 

These modules will also go into the details of the names of bones and their structures, and the circulatory, cardiorespiratory and energy systems of the body - plus so much more. In addition to this, aerobics instructor courses cover the basic fitness principles, such as training guidelines, as well as exercise adaptations and progressions, and how to motivate clients.

The theory side of the qualification also covers the theory behind exercise to music, for example identifying the beats and phrases in a piece of music, how to choreograph routines, and how to safely warm up and cool down.

Additionally, the course involves a practical element. For the practical assessment, you will be required to choreograph your own class and then teach it to a group of participants while being assessed by an examiner.

You will need to pass both the theory and practical elements of the course in order to achieve the qualification.

Once you are qualified, you will then be able to teach your classic aerobic classes. If you’re looking to teach other classes that incorporate aerobic exercise, it is likely you will need to obtain additional qualifications.

Some examples of where this would apply include:

Power Yoga classes: Power yoga is a great form of aerobic exercise, but if you want to teach this as a class, you're best looking into getting qualified as a yoga instructor.

Swimming classes: Swimming and water aerobics classes are great fun to take part in and to teach, too. However, you will need to complete a separate Certification in Swimming to lead water-based classes.

Zumba classes: Zumba is another really popular aerobics class, but since it is a brand, you’ll need a Zumba certification to teach classes.

Les Mills branded classes: We’ve all heard of the popular fitness classes BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK, and BODYCOMBAT. Although you do find these classes in gyms across Ireland, they are actually Les Mills branded classes, so if you want to teach one of these classes, you will need an additional certification from Les Mills.

To get onto this course, you must already have either a Level 3 Gym Instructor certification or the Level 3 Exercise to Music qualification that we mentioned just above.

How to Pick the Right Aerobics Instructor Course

When you are looking for an aerobics instructor course, choosing the right course or training provider is really important. Before you sign up for a course, you should always take the time to compare a few different course providers to ensure that you are choosing the best option for you.

Probably the most important thing to look for from a course provider, is to ensure that the qualification that they are offering is recognised by CIMSPA and regulated by an Ofqual approved governing body such as Focus Awards, YMCA Awards or Active IQ.

Without accreditation or regulation, the course is essentially worthless as it will not be recognised by any employers. Instead, having an accredited qualification shows an employer that you have been taught to nationally agreed standards and that your course has covered all the necessary topics to safely and competently work as an aerobics instructor. 

You should also find out what resources are available to you through each provider, what study methods they offer, and what support students receive. For example, here at OriGym, our Level 3 Exercise to Music qualification is a blended learning course, meaning that you can complete a large chunk of your aerobics instructor certification online.

Another great tip is to look at reviews and testimonials from past students, as this can give you an authentic insight into the standard of the provider and their course. 

Do I need First Aid Certification to Become an Aerobics Instructor?

So, we’ve already established that in terms of qualifications, becoming an aerobics instructor only requires you to hold a Level 3 Exercise to Music certification.

Nevertheless, ‘do I need a first aid certification?’ is a really common question that we get from people who enquire about how to become an aerobics instructor in Ireland, so we thought it was best to quickly cover this point - here goes!

It may surprise you to know that as an aerobics instructor, you are not required to have a first aid certificate. However, whilst it is not required, we would recommend that you obtain a first aid certificate and keep it up to date if you are looking to pursue a career in the fitness industry.

It's not unlikely that you could find yourself in the position where somebody in one of your classes is in need of medical attention, and so knowing what to do in that situation is always a bonus. Not to mention, both you and those in your class will feel more comfortable knowing that should that kind of situation arise, you know exactly what to do. 

For this reason, getting your first aid certificate is especially useful if you want to start your own business, or run independent or outdoor aerobics classes.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that you should complete a first aid qualification even though it isn’t strictly necessary, perhaps this next point will change your mind!

Whether you end up working in a gym, a health club, or any other fitness facility, these kinds of businesses must have at least one first aid qualified member of staff working at all times. For that reason, some gym managers favour applicants who are first aid qualified as having more first aid trained staff makes the venue safer and it makes it easier to organise rotas.

Not to mention, having more than just the bare minimum qualification shows that you are serious about your career and eager to succeed!

What Skills are Needed to Become an Aerobics Instructor?

Outside of getting qualified, there are a couple of skills that could come in handy in helping you to become a step aerobics instructor.

Whilst your chances of having a successful career as an aerobics instructor are by no means over if you don’t currently possess all of the skills below, there are definitely a couple of qualities that make up a typical aerobics instructor.

Those include:

  • A passion for fitness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Good coordination
  • High motivation
  • Confidence 
  • High level of physical fitness

Since a large part of the role of an aerobics instructor requires you to run classes and demonstrate exercises in front of groups of people, it only makes sense that you need to be fit and coordinated enough to do the routine, and confident enough to stand up in front of the class.

Skills such as motivation, enthusiasm, and passion are all things that will help you to run classes that people enjoy. In turn, this will keep people coming back, allowing you to run a sustainable business. 

Other skills that are handy for aerobics instructors to have include strong leadership skills and good communication skills. 

Because aerobics classes, especially the likes of Jazzercise, have such a focus on fusing fitness with music, musicality and rhythm are also important skills to have. If you want to be successful in this role, you need to be able to identify and work to the beats of a music track, in time, all the while showing your class how to do the same!

What Insurance Do I Need as an Aerobics Instructor?

Very soon, we’ll discuss how to find a job as an aerobics instructor, but for now, the final step in the answer to ‘how to become a certified aerobics instructor?’ is getting insured.

All fitness professionals require insurance to cover themselves in case of any accidents or injuries that could lead to claims.

Having insurance provides you with safety and security, for example, should a member of your class make a claim that your instructions caused them to injure themselves, your insurance offers protection and coverage should the claim make its way to court.

Without insurance, this kind of situation would be a costly affair and it could compromise the integrity of your image or your business.

If you work directly for a gym, it is possible that you will be covered by the business’ insurance, but this isn’t always the case. Double check this with your employer for peace of mind before you begin teaching any classes for the gym to ensure that you are fully covered. 

If you are working as a freelancer or you have your own business, you will need to sort out your own insurance. 

You can get aerobics instructor insurance from the likes of Insure4Sport, and whilst fees vary from company to company, insurance is pretty affordable at around €35 - €60 per month.

Aerobics Instructor Salary: How Much Can You Earn as an Aerobics Instructor?

Of course, one of the most commonly asked questions when looking into any new career path is the salary. So, if you were to become an aerobics instructor, what can you expect to earn?

Unfortunately, because the role of an aerobics instructor is so varied, it’s not possible to provide a specific figure in answer to this question.

The fact that there are multiple routes you can go down makes it difficult to reach an average salary figure. For example, there are many part time aerobics instructors out there, and there are usually differences between the earnings of those working for a gym and freelancers running classes in private venues.

If you are working as an aerobics instructor part time around your current job, you will obviously be earning less than you would if you were to work full time. 

Furthermore, where you work can also have quite a significant effect on the amount you earn. For example, if you are in a salaried role working for a gym or a club, then your income will be determined by your employer. On the other hand, if you freelance, your income is determined by how many classes you teach a week and how many participants attend those classes.

Despite the many factors that can influence the salary of an aerobics instructor, we did some general research and found a range of figures starting at €14 an hour all the way up to €40 per hour. 

Again, the huge variance in this figure is largely down to the fact that your hourly rate is determined by the factors mentioned above as well as other influences such as your location and your level of experience.

One way to increase your earnings is by undertaking additional qualifications to improve your knowledge and expertise. For example, if you complete a specialist qualification like our Level 5 Lower Back Pain Management course, then you can boost your earnings by working with a broader range of people and by marketing yourself as an expert in a niche area of the industry.

If you want to go one step further than that, starting your own business is perhaps the most lucrative career path for an aerobics instructor. Running freelance classes out of public spaces or opening up your own studio means that you can set your own prices, giving you the freedom to earn as much as you like!

Probably the most logical way for aerobics instructors to boost their salary is by qualifying as a personal trainer. Running 1-1 personal training sessions alongside aerobics classes is a great way to expand the services that you offer and earn some extra money.

Becoming a personal trainer and working as an aerobics instructor go hand in hand as any of the members of your classes have the potential of becoming regular clients, and vice versa.

Where do Aerobics Instructors Work?

Now that you know how to become a certified aerobics instructor in terms of qualifications, skills, and insurance, let's talk a little bit about how and where you can land a job!

As we briefly mentioned above, there are plenty of career paths out there for budding aerobics instructors. You can become self-employed and run classes outside or in private venues, you can freelance for a company, or you can get a job working at a fitness centre full-time.

In this section we have broken down the various ways in which you can work as an aerobics instructor, so keep on reading below!

Working as an Employed Aerobics Instructor

If you go down the route of being employed by a company, such as a gym or fitness centre, a lot of the hard work will be done for you. Unlike self-employed aerobics instructors, you won’t need to contact gyms or venues to negotiate times to teach your classes, you will simply run the classes that already exist on the club’s timetable.

Whilst running your own business would mean having to market your classes in order to get people to attend, aerobics instructors who are employed by a gym don’t have to worry about this as the majority of attendees will be existing gym members. 

Pursuing full-time employment is a great way for newly qualified aerobics instructors to build confidence and develop experience in the workplace. Plus, this career path usually comes with a salaried wage, offering much more income security than a freelance position would.

Working as an Freelance Aerobics Instructor

If you want more of a flexible role, becoming a freelance aerobics instructor for one particular gym or fitness centre is a great option.

This option is usually set up in the way that a gym would have an agreement with a personal trainer, for example. There is usually some kind of agreement that specifies that you can use the gym facilities to run your classes in exchange for working a few hours at the club for free or paying the gym ‘rent’.

It is important to look into the pro’s and con’s of being directly employed or working freelance for a gym. For example, working freelance for a gym is perfect if you want a taste of the benefits of having an independent business without the risks that come with opening your own studio or the stress of sourcing a regular venue for your classes.

In both cases, you will not have the cost of buying equipment, or hiring or renting a venue, as you are able to access the facilities in the gym or fitness centre. However, if you want to earn that higher end of the aerobics instructor salary, then becoming self-employed or opening your own studio is the best way to achieve that.

How to Become An Aerobics Instructor: Go Self Employed!

A common route for more experienced aerobic instructors to go down is to become an independent instructor by setting up their own classes. This involves hiring out village halls, labour clubs, church halls etc., and then advertising your classes in order to attract your own clients.

When you are first starting out, this can be quite tough as you haven’t had the chance to build a client base or get your name out there. Meanwhile, if you have been teaching for a while, for example teaching classes at a gym, you may already have loyal clients that will follow you if you decide to run your own classes elsewhere. 

Although it may seem hard, don’t worry, it’s not impossible! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your name out there. You can ask your friends and family to get involved, post leaflets or flyers around your local area, and of course, set up social media pages for your business!

Opening Your Own Aerobics Studio

In the section above, we broke down the three main career options available after you train to be an aerobics instructor. There is, however, one final way of working as an aerobics instructor, and that's by opening up your own studio!  

This route is a great option to pursue further along in your career. If you like the idea of being your own boss, not having to abide by the rules of gyms and fitness studios, and having your own premises to teach out of rather than switching between church halls and community centres, then you should seriously consider opening your own studio. 

Starting your own aerobics studio is definitely an exciting business venture and while the first few steps will involve lots of research, all of your hard work will be sure to pay off.


Some of the key steps include finding a suitable and safe venue, and ensuring you have the correct permissions etc. from your local council to use the building as a fitness studio. 

There’ll also be a lot of other admin to sort out, but once it’s all out of the way, it will all be worth it. As well as the necessary (albeit boring!) business and legal sides, there’s the fun part too - decorating the interior exactly to your taste, creating your brand, setting up your social media pages, and perhaps even organising an event to celebrate the grand opening!

There are plenty of benefits to enjoy when it comes to owning your very own studio, however, where there are pros, there must be cons. Before you get too excited about the prospect of running your own business, it's important to weigh up the pros and cons. Fortunately for you, we’ve done that for you just below!

Pros of Opening Your Own Studio

Create Your Own Timetable

One of the main pros OF opening your own studio is that you can design your own timetable. You can choose what classes to run and when, giving you complete control over when you teach. This is a very convenient bonus as it allows you to set your own working hours.

However, one thing you may need to consider is that there will be times when classes will be more popular, so you will need to consider your potential clients schedules when creating your timetable. For example, early morning classes and evening classes tend to be more popular than daytime classes, as people like to fit in a class before or after work.

Set Your Class Prices

Another great benefit of owning your own studio is that you can set your own prices. You can design a membership, or different levels of memberships, or charge a set price per class. You will have complete freedom to charge whatever you like and you could even create a loyalty reward scheme to encourage class members to return, for example “Get your 3rd class free!”.

You Can Provide Opportunities for New Aerobics Instructors

A great way to give back, once you have opened and established your studio, you will be able to provide opportunities for people who are just like you are now, looking at how to become an aerobics instructor.

You can help them get started in the industry and offer them slots to teach classes, allowing them to build up their experience as an aerobics instructor.

You can also provide opportunities for established aerobics instructors and rent out your studio for class use, allowing you to earn additional income. As a space specifically for aerobics classes, you have an advantage over church halls, labour clubs etc.

Cons of Opening Your Own Studio

High Initial Investment Costs

To start off with, you will need to invest a large amount of money into this venture. Initial costs include finding a suitable premises to purchase as well as the various legal and admin costs that come with that. It’s also likely that you will need to spend money on renovating and decorating the venue to ensure it is suitable to run aerobics classes, and that it is to your taste, too! 

You’ll also need to invest in marketing materials to promote your new studio and bring in the customers. Remember! Digital marketing is just as effective as physical leaflets, flyers, and posters, so check out some brilliant fitness website ideas here

Overheads Costs

Even after the initial investment costs, you will still have further costs that come with the running of your studio. This all comes down to you, whereas before you needn’t have worried as everything would be dealt with by the gym or venue you were teaching out of.

Overheads include things such as rent (if you haven’t purchased the building), gas and electric, insurance, advertising and marketing, taxes, and staff costs.

However, if you are opening up your studio to allow others to teach out of, this can be a great way to earn an additional bit of income that can help towards covering your overheads. Depending on how many classes you have running per week, you could potentially cover the majority, if not all, of your overheads with the income earned from rent paid by other instructors.

It’s Hard Work in the Beginning

As exciting as running your own studio sounds, we’re not going to pretend that it is easy. Afterall, if it was easy, everybody would do it!

Taking on such a big project will definitely require lots of hard work, especially in the beginning. It takes time and effort to secure suitable premises and ensure it is safe, and in order to make your studio a profitable business venture, you’ll need to work hard to promote the venue.

Although it will be hard work, it will be worth it once you start to see the benefits coming into fruition. It is a very rewarding career path and can also prove to be very lucrative!

Before You Go!

So, there we have it, a full guide explaining how to become an aerobics instructor in Ireland.

By now, you should have a good idea of how to become a certified aerobics instructor, as well as what to expect from this career in terms of salary and the various places that you can work.

If you think you have what it takes to pursue this career, go ahead and check out our Level 3 Exercise to Music qualification. Feeling ambitious? Why not go one step further and enquire about our CIMSPA endorsed Personal Training Diploma or download our course prospectus here.


Take Your First Step Into The Fitness Industry With OriGym's Courses

OriGym's Level 3 Exercise to Music course offers to ultimate package!

Written by Luke Hughes


Luke is the CEO for OriGym, with a masters degree and 1st class honours degree in sport and exercise science and is a qualified personal trainer. Luke loves playing football and running, but his main passion is for cycling, where he can often be found cycling round the Lake District on a Sunday afternoon!