What Qualification Do I Need to Teach Fitness Classes? Everything You Need to Know

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After searching for answers, we are here to answer your question - what qualifications do I need to teach fitness classes?

Not only will you find your answer here, but you’ll see exactly what qualifications can enhance your career and even where you can work. Jump to the most relevant area for you below, or start from the top with us:

Before we get straight to it, if you’re looking to get qualified to teach fitness classes, your first port of call is going to be a Level 3 certification in gym instructing

Find this and many more health and fitness courses here in our downloadable prospectus.


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Can You Teach Group Fitness Without a Certification?

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The simple answer is no, you absolutely cannot teach group fitness classes without a certification. 

But why, you may ask?

The most obvious point is that a certification to teach fitness classes educates you properly, meaning you’re much less likely to cause injury or misdirect others. 

Not only that, but you have no reason for a class to trust your teachings if you haven't even been through education.

However, it gets a little more serious than simply having no trust between yourself and the class goer. 

Insurance for a fitness professional is the most important thing about operating as a legitimate business or employee.

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So what has this got to do with you being qualified? Well, without certification, you simply will not be eligible for public liability or any kind of insurance that you need to have in order to practice as a fitness instructor.

So no insurance, and practising with no qualification, are two big no-nos. There are serious repercussions for those who are liable for a client and have no insurance, and the only way to protect yourself is to gain a recognised qualification and get insured. 

Plus, you will definitely struggle to find any gym that will hire you as a fitness instructor with no qualifications, let alone teach a class. 

So, there is your answer to your central question, but let’s now take a look at the courses you do need to teach so you don’t fall into the dangerous world of teaching fitness classes without certification!

Foundational Qualifications Needed To Teach Fitness Classes

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Now that you’re well aware that you certainly need a qualification, you’re probably wondering exactly what qualifications do I need to teach exercise classes?

The most popular approach to becoming certified with a recognised qualification is to opt for a Level 3 in gym instructing.

Level 3 In Gym/Fitness Instructing

First and foremost, this is the recommended course for anybody whose ultimate goal is to teach fitness classes. 

This qualification is recognised by gyms in the UK and almost always what they require for you to be considered to work for them. 

You should remember that a Level 3 will allow you to teach classes but does not allow you to work 1 on 1 with clients.

To be able to do this you would need to study a Level 4 in personal training. When you complete a Level 3 you'll be able to:

This course doesn’t take a long time either! On average, full time students take 2 weeks to study and complete the course, whereas part-time students take 6-8 weeks. 

This is an average due to a variety of choices when it comes to study methods. You can study full-time which is intense learning over 2 weeks or you can take your time with an online course as you pace yourself. 

Though you don't technically have to have completed a Level 4 to teach fitness classes, most gyms and fitness facilities prefer to hire candidates who are educated to this level:

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Though it says it would be advantageous, roles like these can be competitive and so having this higher qualification will help you stand out from the crowd and give you the edge over other candidates!

This is why we would recommend investing in this more advanced course. You'll be more developed as a fitness professional and as a result you'll be able to make more money as a PT!

CPD Qualifications That Can Expand Your Career Prospects

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CPD courses, or continuous professional development courses, are exactly that - they're professional development for you meaning you'll be an even more valueable asset to any client or business you work for!

Thus, if you’re looking up how to get certified to teach fitness classes, you have the basics, but these are the courses that show that you’re willing to go the extra mile and become the best in your sector. 

So which ones will help you when it comes to teaching fitness classes?

Group Training 

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The most obvious CPD that you’re going to want under your belt is group training. 

What is so great about CPD fitness courses is that they'll only take one day out of your busy schedule. Nonetheless, don’t let this make you think that they're easy!

This course is still a day of hard work where you will learn critical skills to make you an even better class instructor.

In this CPD, you learn how to train groups of up to 6 people focusing on detailed advice and training to meet specific goals and needs.

You'll also learn about a '16 session periodised plan' where you can gradually scale your group training to develop people's fitness levels and give them some progression.


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This is great if you want to use your group sessions to scale a particular kind of class and have the option to combine personal training with teaching fitness classes! You can see people improve and learn how to increase the classes in difficulty each week.

This course will allow you to train groups with similar personal training needs as well as enhancing your expertise for teaching fitness classes!

This makes your group training CPD a great addition to your certifications, especially if they are combined with other useful CPDS, like the ones we are going to discuss now.

Boxing & Pad Work 

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Again, just like all of our CPD courses at OriGym, this is a one-day course. So if you’re wondering “what qualifications do I need to teach boxing exercise classes”, this CPD is probably going to be for you.

Though you will still need your Level 3 qualification, if you’re looking to do boxing based classes, this will make your teaching much more informed. 

Splitting into 5 modules during this day of hard work, you would learn the following:

  • The Development of Boxing
  • Preparing to Box
  • Punch and Pad Work Techniques
  • Conditioning Drills
  • Observational Assessment

From warm up drills to specific techniques, you will be teaching with the knowledge behind you. Plus, if your clients or employers are looking for a boxing specific class, you’re bound to be the perfect candidate with this additional CPD behind you.

This really is a desirable prospect for any person who wants to offer more than your average class instructor. Just take a look at this job advertisement below:

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Plenty of places will prefer you to be qualified in a particular style of training so this will give you the edge over other candidates.

This is a useful niche qualification needed to teach fitness classes as well as working one-on-one so is a great all round investment.

It just goes to show that more than the minimum qualification can take you to prestigious positions and mean that your services are in high demand! 

Circuit Training 

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As you may already know, circuit training, especially HIIT, is one of the most popular classes out there for a variety of goals, and is a regular on commercial gym timetables.

Again, just one day is all it takes to have this successful CPD on your CV, the perfect partner to a Level 3 in gym instruction to become more valuable. 

As you can see, just like boxing coaching, some people will specify they want you to be able to teach this style of class specifically to work as a fitness instructor:

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Not only will you be able to use this to teach classes based around boxing techniques, you can also use them to inform one-to-one sessions if you want to become a personal trainer.


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Last but not least, another CPD that would be a valueable qualification needed to teach fitness classes is kettlebells.

This course will mean you can specialise in this piece of equipment and use it for a whole range of techniques, goals, and fitness classes whether the focus is cardio or strength!

Just like circuits, you’ll almost always find a kettlebell class in a commercial gym. It's a popular class with minimal equipment and maximum effort.

You need to have at least your Level 3 to enrol but, as we've mentioned earlier, most facilities prefer you to be PT qualified so this is a great way to stand out even further.

As you can see from this job advert below, some places will explicitly ask you to be able to teach Kettlebells as it's such a popular class:

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This is the same job advert we looked at before. As you can see, combining circuit training and Kettlebells is a great way to develop a range of useful skills and gain qualifications needed to teach fitness classes with different focuses.

These also go well together as you can incorporate kettlebells into your circuit training classes, as well as a dedicated class.

A fitness instructor role is an incredibly broad one and, among your other responsibilities, it is likely that a kettlebell class will find its way onto your schedule.

Within this CPD, you go through: 

  • Kettlebell movements so you know the basic actions to build classes and sessions around
  • Planes of motion and lifting styles so that you'll know how to target specific areas of the body effectively and safely
  • An observational assessment at the end. This is where you'll have to plan a kettlebell session and be assessed in your technique and delivery and the inclusion of four different exercises

This is something we would certainly recommend for instructors! It will prepare you for job roles and to be well informed for teaching the classes. 


For more useful information on qualifications to make you the best in the business, read our articles below!


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Develop your fitness career with our Level 4 personal trainer course!

Qualifications Needed to Teach Les Mills Fitness Classes

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If you're looking to become a fitness class teacher, you may have already heard of Les Mills. You may be wondering 'can you teach group fitness without a certification in Les Mills?' 

We'll run through this now and look at the different Les Mills qualifications, and the patented classes they'll qualify you to teach.

Les Mills classes are very popular and all centre around a choreographed routine with a variety of different themes, based on different styles of training.

In order to place the Les Mills trademark on your classes you must obtain an official Les Mills qualification for that class specifically.

Below, you can see all of the branded classes that you can take in order to call yourself a Les Mills instructor.

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There's over 15 different classes to choose from so you might be wondering where to start. However, the same classes are the most popular in most gyms so you can at least have a good idea of what you should start with.

You have to qualify separately for each type of class so it's good to prioritise and go with what's going to help you teach at the most locations and obtain the most class members!

Body Pump and Body Combat are hugely popular in many commercial gyms and private ones alike.

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Though there's technically no qualifications needed to get on to these courses, as we mentioned earlier you'll need at least a Level 3 if not a Level 4 to work in most gyms so it's worth investing in these first or alongside your Les Mills courses!

The courses vary in price depending on where you live so this is something worth bearing in mind too when you're deciding how many you want to take.

Though the more you have this might seem like it gives you more of an edge, the same classes tend to crop up in the UK so you can be selective about what you choose so that you've got the best qualification for a fitness instructor role.

Below, we have taken a section from a job advertisement looking for a Body Pump instructor, a widely popular class.

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As you can see, you may be asked to be qualified in a specific Les Mills class, or at least having this training and expertise will give you the edge when you apply for positions in gyms.

Getting trained as a Les Mills instructor is one way that will maximise your salary and make you an extremely valuable asset to any gym that is wanting to advertise that they offer these trademarked classes.

How and Where Can You Work with a Certification to Teach Fitness Classes?

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So, now you know the answer to 'what qualifications do I need to teach exercise classes?' but what about where specifically you can work once you're qualified?

There's several different ways you could choose to work once you're a qualified fitness instructor. We'll look through each one now so you know exactly what you can do with your qualifications for fitness classes.

Freelance Fitness Class Instructor

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One of the most attractive things about a career in fitness is that working as a freelance trainer, being your own boss, is the most popular way to earn income. 

It allows for you to have an uncapped earning while being completely in control of your schedule and prices. Wanting to become a fitness class instructor, you may think that you have to be hired to take charge of a class with clients waiting for you, but this doesn't have to be the case.

If you wish, you could have multiple classes to teach throughout your work week. Plus, this is a really popular approach that gyms take to hiring class instructors. For example, a gym may only need an instructor for one circuit class a week, you could fill this spot.

So, you could have 7 different classes in 7 different gyms across 7 days a week if you wanted to! 


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If you're role is teaching classes as well as having personal training clients you will most likely work for one facility and use the space with your clients in exchange for teaching fitness classes.

So, despite freelance seeming insecure, it can often still secure you a place in a commercial gym whilst giving you the freedom to fill your own schedule and teach a variety of classes.

Take a look at this job advertisement below and how you could fit the requirements if you chose a freelance career path.

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This is a good example of how organisations hire on a freelance basis, they tell you which classes you would need to teach and the frequency or dates you would be teaching them.

Jobs with an option to find personal training clients are even more likely to be freelance because you will often teach classes and perform administrative tasks in exchange for using the space for PT clients.

You could potentially apply for multiple job openings like this one and plan your schedule between different businesses. 

For example, maybe Monday - Tuesday you have free time for one or two gyms. Then, Wednesday - Saturday you dedicate to another lot of gyms. 

Whatever you decide to do, as long as you organise your time wisely, it is very much possible to have more than one revenue stream and earn a healthy income.

Working for a Commercial or Private Gym 

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Whether you're working freelance or not, the most popular place to work when you've obtained all the certificates needed to be a fitness class instructor is a gym. 

We'll run through the options for both a commercial and a private gym so you can find the best option for you.

Working for a Commercial Gym 

Teaching fitness classes in a gym is a great way to find private clients for personal training. If they're a fan of your class, they may just trust you to create a bespoke exercise regime just for them! 

You'll have already started the process of building rapport with class members and they'll see how you work and the results you can achieve! This means they're much more likely to sign up for PT sessions having sampled your training in classes. 

There are two kinds of gyms, your local private gym that may have a small capacity, or your big commercial gyms like Ben Dunne or Anytime Fitness

Commercial gyms tend to hire more often and so are a great place to start when you've recently completed the qualifications needed to teach fitness classes.

This is the main benefit of working in a commercial gym as well as the size of the space meaning there's plenty more classes available for you to teach and potentially more opportunities to source PT clients.

As you can see, they only offer this role to those who are actively working towards their Level 4 in personal training

This is because like many big gyms, you won’t be hired to solely teach classes - you would be expected to dedicate any working hours you’re obliged to do as a personal trainer, to teaching scheduled classes. 

So if your ultimate goal is to personal train clients alongside teaching, this is a great opportunity as you can do both and maximise your income all the while.

Working for a Private Gym 

If you're wondering what qualifications do I need to teach fitness classes in a private gym, you are more likely to get a role here with just a Level 3 as you can often find positions predominantly looking for people to teach classes.

However, jobs in private gyms are already rarer than in commerical gyms because there's often single venues, with a smaller space, and fewer opening hours as a result.

Therefore we'd still recommend getting a Level 4 personal training qualification as this will open up your options and meaning you can apply for any trainer position within a gym!

As you can see from this position below, in a private gym, though they only specify the accreditation they expect you to have, rather than the level of qualification, they would prefer to have someone with PT experience:

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So, even though the qualifications needed to teach fitness classes in a private gym may be more flexible, you'll still be opening up more doors for yourself with a Level 4.

Before You Go!

By now, hopefully you have an answer for 'what qualifications do I need to teach fitness classes?' and you know what your options are for teaching and career development!

Don't forget you can combine your Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications with our diploma in personal training so you've covered everything to get started wherever you decide to work!

Or, if you’re looking for more information on the plethora of health and fitness courses that are on offer here at OriGym, download our prospectus now!


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym Now

Develop your fitness career with our Level 4 personal trainer course!

Written by Kimberley Mitchell


Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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