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level 3 gym instructor

What Can A Level 3 Gym Instructor Do?

A lot of people will know the main job role of a personal trainer but won’t be able to answer the question of “what can a level 3 gym instructor do?”. These instructors actually have very important jobs within the fitness industry and a fitness instructor career can be lucrative!

Here at OriGym, we know a lot about all things fitness so we’ve put together this handy guide on the typical gym instructor roles and responsibilities so you can find out the facts for yourself. 

We’ll cover the following topics:

Before you read on, did you know that OriGym actually has a level 3 gym instructor course that you can take and kick start your fitness career today? We’ve also got a level 4 personal trainer course if you want to take your career to the next level!

Download our FREE course prospectus for more information on all of our courses and services.

 

Begin Your Career In Fitness With OriGym!

Enquire today to hear more about our award-nominated courses, and how they could be perfect for you.

What You Need To Become A Gym Instructor

Before we get into answering “what can a level 3 fitness instructor do?”, we’re going to explain how you can become one and what qualifications or paperwork you’ll need to complete to join the fitness industry. 

To become a gym instructor there are certain qualifications and requirements that you need to have before you should apply for jobs, whether that’s in gyms, health centres, or even schools.

Firstly, a Level 3 Gym Instructing qualification is essential. Note that this certification can also be labelled as a Level 3 Certificate in Fitness Instructing and a Level 4 Personal Trainer course as well. This qualification doesn’t have any entry requirements other than you have to be at least 16 years of age.

This qualification will give you the essential knowledge to kickstart your career in the fitness industry. You’ll learn about human anatomy and physiology, including circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems, health and safety, exercise programme construction and delivery, how to motivate clients, as well as marketing and business promotion. 

Most people also assume that a first-aid certificate is necessary for a fitness instructor job role, but that isn't the case. You won’t need a first-aid qualification, as long as you have the necessary health and safety knowledge to ensure that both you and your customers can exercise safely during your time in the gym (or other workplaces). 

However, a first aid qualification can give you a competitive advantage when looking for employment!

You’ll also want to get public liability insurance. This insurance covers you from potential injury accusations or any legal costs that might arise if a customer claims that they have suffered an injury due to the advice you have given them. Again, it’s not essential but it is reassuring to have a safety net in place.

What Makes A Good Gym Instructor

The question of “what can a level 3 gym instructor do?” also ties in with the question above, so we’re going to discuss what traits make a good fitness instructor.

This is a frequently asked question in regards to the gym instructor job role. Knowing the qualities and traits that make a good gym instructor can not only help you decide if this is the right career for you, but it can also provide an insight into the industry and who you could be working with.

That being said, don’t feel like you can’t be successful in the fitness industry if you don’t consider yourself to have these attributes!

#1 Patient

Many people will wonder “what is it like being a fitness instructor?”, and honestly it requires a lot of patience and understanding!

Regular interactions with customers are for the most part interesting and rewarding. However, there will be times when you need to have a little extra patience.

#2 Communication skills 

The main gym instructor responsibilities will require good communication skills, whether that’s being able to talk to customers and clients or writing clear and accurate reports and plans. 

#3 Approachable

This role is predominantly customer-facing and in an environment where people often need help and advice. Providing a welcoming and approachable presence is advantageous to both the customer and yourself. 

#4 Motivated

Trying to motivate customers when you have little motivation yourself is going to be hugely challenging! Therefore, having motivation is key to progressing in this industry. 

Whether you have these qualities or not, the key to being a good gym instructor lies in your own attitude and desire to help others on their fitness journey.

What Is A Level 3 Gym Instructor Qualified To Do?

So now you know what qualifications you need and what to expect from the role of a gym instructor, we’re going to answer the question of “what can a gym instructor do?”. 

#1 Instruct And Evaluate 1-on-1 Gym Programmes 

This is one of the most important parts of a gym instructor role as customers often need guidance to reach their goals.

The initial stage of this often involves you discussing the short and long term goals of the customer to determine which exercises and equipment will help them achieve their goals. For example, you might advise someone on how many rest days they need in their exercise routine.

It is important to note that this is more often than not more generalised advice as gym instructors are not qualified to tailor exercise programmes to individual needs. This is something you will learn and be able to do as a level 4 personal trainer.

#2 Understand How The Body Works (Heart And Circulatory, Respiratory, And Digestive Systems)

This is a crucial element to working in the fitness industry as the very nature of the job requires you to work with the human body, and particularly in a safe and healthy way. 

This means you’ll need good knowledge of various systems: how they work, how exercise affects them, how to keep them healthy, what to avoid in terms of both food and exercise. Fortunately, you’ll learn all about the body and these systems in your level 3 Gym Instructor course.

#3 Identify And Control Risk Factors 

What this basically means is that you’ll have industry-specific knowledge of health and safety practices and be able to ensure the safety of your customers and gym-goers.

This will include responsibilities such as appropriately safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, knowing the emergency procedures within your work environment, and ensuring proper and safe use of machinery and equipment at all times. 

This is a hugely important aspect of a gym instructor role: people can injure themselves easily enough even with the experience of exercising and equipment, so those that have little to no knowledge are at a greater risk of serious injury. 

Keeping up to date with gym procedures and health and safety is vital for both the client and yourself as someone could blame you if they get injured!

#4 Actively Encourage Potential Clients/Members To Join

As with all businesses, getting new members and customers is fundamental to the success of the business, and it’s the same in the fitness industry.

You’ll learn the fundamentals of marketing and promoting a business in the level 3 Gym Instructor course and while you might not use it as much in a gym setting, for example, if you want to progress and become a personal trainer then being able to market your business is essential. 


#5 Advice On Progression

This is an obvious one; people will ultimately reach a point where they need further advice on how to progress with their goals, and a gym instructor will be able to do this. 

However, as we mentioned before, this won’t be an in-depth or tailored programme for the customer in question. You’ll be able to give them recommendations and guidance based on their current goals and programmes, providing advice on natural exercise progressions or other exercises that can help their fitness journey.

For example, if a member wants to progress from a standard Hammer Curl, you could recommend the more difficult Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press or a similar variation to further build upper body strength.

#6 Advice On Exercise Modifications

Similar to the point above, there will be times when your customer won’t be able to complete an exercise or movement, and this could be due to muscle weakness, disability, or pain. They might not even want to do it!

This means you’ll have to know various modifications and variations of exercises in order for your clients to continue with their workouts and ultimately reach their goals. It is also crucial that your customers know how to use the relevant machinery and equipment properly as this can sometimes be a barrier to effective exercise.

#7 Demonstrate Machines And Equipment

This is an obvious answer to “what is a level 3 gym instructor qualified to do?”.

Another important part of the gym instructor role is explaining the ins and outs of all the machinery and equipment within the gym. This is vital for gym members as incorrect or careless use of equipment can cause serious injury.

A study in the journal Sports Medicine states that most weight lifting injuries are caused by “aggressive use of free weights”, which can cause fractures, dislocations, intervertebral disk herniation, and other significant musculoskeletal damage. 

They discuss that good coaching is the most effective way to reduce the risk of such injuries, which is why proper demonstration of the gym equipment is one of the most crucial gym instructor responsibilities. 

#8 Leading Group Exercise Classes 

While a gym instructor may not be qualified to tailor one-on-one programs with members, they can conduct exercise classes for a group of people within the gym, which is essentially the job of a group fitness instructor.

So, what does a group fitness instructor do?

This job is simple enough: they lead groups of members in a specific type of training, usually lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, whether that’s a circuit training session or aerobics class. You’ll need good leadership skills and be comfortable speaking to groups of people.

It is important to note, that while there are development courses and sessions available through OriGym, this isn’t a requirement for teaching a class. That being said, having this additional qualification will be a huge boost to your fitness career, ultimately boosting your employability. It will demonstrate your willingness to progress as well as showing potential employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge!

However, there are certain types of group classes that do require additional qualifications, such as an Exercise to Music certification, or a qualification in Indoor Cycling.

#9 Gym Inductions 

As a level 3 gym instructor, this is one of the more common activities that you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. While you may think that a gym induction is simply just demonstrating equipment and showing a member where the lockers are, there is actually a lot more involved which makes it an important part of the role of a fitness instructor.

As well as being a regular responsibility, it is also an integral part of a fitness environment; this is a chance to demonstrate your fitness knowledge, your customer service and communication skills, explain how to use the equipment in a safe manner, and potentially use some of your marketing skills too.

You’ll be showing the customer around the gym and relevant facilities, explaining where to go for various types of training and exercise, covering key health and safety points as you take them on a tour (including fire exits and first aid areas), and conducting the pre-exercise questionnaire. 

The gym instructor will also demonstrate the safe operation of exercise machines and equipment and potentially offer general advice in relation to the customer’s goals. 

The gym instructor is essentially a new member’s first experience of the fitness industry, so ensuring that it is a welcoming and informative environment is integral to the success of the business, client retention, and your brand image as a fitness professional. 

#10 Day To Day Tasks

As with any job, being a gym instructor will also include more general day-to-day tasks that will require professionalism and attention to detail. These can also provide respite from the long periods of time spent on the gym floor; constantly training and supervising will be tiring!

Some of these tasks will include but are not limited to:

  • Problem-solving: if a customer or colleague has an issue then you’ll have to help solve it.
  • Customer service: this is a customer-facing role that requires excellent customer service interaction. 
  • Administration duties: this will vary depending on the work environment but could include tasks such as maintaining member records, business correspondence, organising events or rotas, and more.
  • Regular checks and risk assessments: you’ll have to safeguard your members and ensure that health and safety procedures are adhered to at all times, which can include taking risk assessments and checking facilities.  
  • Cash handling: this will again depend on where you work, but you may be counting and handling cash at the beginning and/or end of your shift.
  • Customer enquiries: this could be over the phone, via email, or just face-to-face, but as a representative of your employer you’ll regularly be answering customer queries.

#11 Reception Duties 

Perhaps the less glamorous side of the job specification of a gym instructor is working on the reception. There will be some workplaces that will require you to take on certain receptionist duties as well as the other gym instructor roles and responsibilities that we’ve mentioned above. This is more often seen in gyms and leisure centres.

The gym instructor will be answering phone calls, responding to emails, updating client records, keeping up to date with business correspondence, welcoming clients into the gym, among other typical receptionist duties.

#12 Cleaning/Tidying 

When you think about what jobs can a fitness instructor do, this probably won’t be the first thing you think of, but cleaning and tidying is an important part of the job!

This again will depend on where you work: many gym instructors will be responsible for maintaining the hygiene and cleanliness of the various areas within the facilities. This will mainly entail ensuring the machines and equipment are hygienic and tidy, as well as making sure the gym floor is safe and clean.

In certain workplaces, you could be involved with cleaning pools and conducting pool tests as well.

Working Environments

So, you’ll probably be wondering “what jobs can I do with a level 3 fitness instructor qualification?”.

As a qualified level 3 gym instructor there are actually a variety of places where you could be employed, and each has its own additional unique responsibilities and tasks.

These workplaces include hotels, cruise ships, gyms, leisure centres, hospitals, schools, and universities, and these will offer varying fitness instructor salaries.

Here are a few examples of how the answer to “what does a gym instructor do?” differs depending on the work environment:

#1 Cruise Ships

This is one of the more extraordinary places to work as a gym instructor, and it comes with certain additional responsibilities. By the very nature of the workplace, you’ll have to know and follow a lot more health and safety practices, including detailed emergency procedures. 

You’ll be conducting a lot of the usual fitness instructor roles, including the day to day tasks, cleaning duties, identifying and controlling risk factors, and advising customers on exercise modifications and progressions. It is also more likely that you will be conducting a lot more group classes as these often attract a larger population of the cruise.

As you’ll be on a cruise ship there will be much less need for answering phones and keeping detailed records as the customers are only there for a short period of time.

On the plus side, you’ll be able to travel the world with discounts on products and services!

#2 Universities

Many of the gym instructor responsibilities will be very similar to the ones mentioned above for a university job. You’ll still need to safeguard members, keep the gym environment clean and tidy, instruct clients on exercises and equipment, and conduct gym inductions. 

But what can a fitness instructor do in a university that is different to other workplaces? 

There may be the added fitness instructor responsibility of conducting practical assessments for students studying degrees such as ‘sports coaching’ or ‘sports performance’. This basically means you’ll be identifying the student’s practical ability to apply their theoretical knowledge within the chosen subject or area. Your employer will train you on how to do this.

Other than that the main fitness instructor job role is much the same as working in a gym or leisure centre, so you’ll still be cleaning, doing admin tasks, encouraging members to join etc. 

#3 Hospitals

What can a level 3 gym instructor do while working in a hospital? This usually entails more physiotherapy or a greater focus on nutrition and wellbeing. You could be working with patients or members with disabilities, or people undergoing rehabilitation for injuries. 

This will again mean more knowledge around health and safety and emergency procedures to keep patients safe and to reduce the risk of causing further injury. Many disabilities will need specific care or more exercise modifications to be performed safely. 

This means you’ll also need a more developed understanding of the human body and various health conditions. It will be beneficial to earn a Level 4 Diploma in Exercise Referral if this area of expertise is where you want to specialise.

Gym Instructor Job Description

Now you know what qualifications and personal attributes you need to get you into a gym instructor position, and we’ve answered the question of “what does a fitness instructor do?”, we’re going to explain variations in different gym instructor job descriptions. 

What To Expect In A Job Advertisement

The majority of the gym instructor job description ads will state the responsibilities, usually including some if not all of the tasks we discussed above. There might also be a few additional tasks that are unique to the environment or the company itself, so be sure to check these carefully before applying.

If employed in a gym, leisure centre, or health club, you’ll most likely be working shifts, including evenings, early mornings, and weekends. Shifts do offer flexibility which is a huge bonus.

A level 3 qualification will be a requirement, and some employers may ask for additional training, such as group exercise or first aid qualifications.

What Is The Role Of A Fitness Instructor: Employed vs Freelance

One of the main things that you might notice when looking for a job is that some employers will delineate whether they want a freelance gym instructor or not. It’s a lot rarer to see freelance gym instructors in comparison with freelance personal trainers, but they do exist! 

Additionally, freelance group exercise instructor jobs are often advertised, usually on a part-time basis and they often ask for specific group exercise qualifications.

This can come with a few minor differences in job responsibilities. Freelance gym instructors are more likely to come with their own client base and the gym will be a space for you to work with those clients, so you’ll spend more of your time interacting with them.

That being said, you’ll still have to contribute to the team and perform basic duties, as well as cleaning, tidying, encouraging new members to join, maintaining health and safety procedures, conduct gym inductions and offer advice on training programmes. 

There is a caveat with employers that want ‘freelance’ gym instructors: you need to check the job advert very carefully to see just exactly what they’re looking for as some will use gym instructor and personal trainer as interchangeable terms, and these are not the same job. 

For example, this fitness instructor job posted above is asking for applicants with a level 4 qualification. This actually means you’re qualified as a personal trainer, the next step up from a level 3 gym instructor, and you’re reading this article with the thought “I’m a level 3 fitness instructor, what can I do?”, not a level 4 PT!

What Is The Difference Between Gym Instructors And Personal Trainers?

We mentioned briefly above that the titles of a gym instructor and personal trainer are occasionally used interchangeably even though they’re technically two different jobs albeit in the same industry.

One of the main differences between these two jobs is that employers will actively sell themselves and the job opportunities to personal trainers, due to the fact that personal trainers are valued above gym instructors within the company. 

With at least a level 4 personal training qualification, personal trainers know more about advanced human anatomy and physiology, nutritional principles, designing and tailoring training programs for individuals which includes being able to provide safe and effective training for people with disabilities, and they will have increased knowledge about marketing and the business side of being a PT.

They provide personalised training programs for clients where gym instructors aren’t qualified to do so, as well as provide advice on weight management, rehabilitation, injury prevention, and to some extent they can give nutritional advice.

Personal trainers bring in and attract a larger client base, whether they’re freelance or employed, which will ultimately bring more money to the gym or club. Their higher skill level and knowledge base will also attract more customers. 

This isn’t to say being a gym instructor isn’t worthwhile as every gym and leisure centre will need gym instructors, and as a first step into the fitness industry, the gym instructor role will give you some of the necessary skills and experience to progress in the industry.

Further Development Options

The gym instructor job role is often described as an entry role into fitness. If you’re just starting out in your career by becoming a gym instructor then the odds are that you’ll want to progress further to earn more and make more of a difference. 

There are a few avenues for furthering your fitness career: we’re going to briefly explain what they are and how you can specialise in these areas.

Gym Management

As with many professions, there will be opportunities for promotion within the employee hierarchy of the gym (or another fitness establishment). That means you can work towards becoming an assistant gym manager or gym manager. 

There are a few reasons why you would want to progress down this route. For example, the average salary of a gym manager for PureGym is €25,000 and €36,0000, depending on location, which is a huge step up from the usual minimum wage paid to fitness instructors. 

Additionally, the roles and responsibilities are slightly different. You will be involved with managing budgets, setting KPIs, maintaining business records, conducting performance management reviews and more.

This role obviously involves more responsibility, but you’ll be able to lead your own team and have a direct impact on the business and how it is run!

Personal Trainer

We’ve answered the question of “what can I do with a level 3 fitness instructor certificate?” but what can you do if you get other qualifications?

Well, the logical next step up in the fitness industry is personal training. This requires gaining the level 4 personal trainer qualification before you can be classed as a personal trainer, regardless of whether you want to practice as self-employed, freelance or employed by a club.

Once you have your level 4 then you can start working as a PT. This means you can work with your own clients, give personalised advice, and even start your own business. 

You’ll also earn significantly more than a gym instructor. It’s difficult to give you a precise amount as the average salaries vary a lot depending on the employer and other circumstances, but data from Payscale Ireland places the median salary at around €26,400.

Other than more money, having more freedom and more control over your career are huge benefits that make this progression worthwhile. 

Nutritionist

After qualifying as both a level 3 gym instructor and a level 4 personal trainer, there are a significant number of further areas you can then advance into, and one of the more sought after careers is a nutritionist.

To become a nutritionist you’ll need to take either vocational courses like the level 5 advanced sports nutrition course offered here at OriGym or a degree in the same field. Deciding which type of course to take is a big decision as each has its own pros and cons. For example, taking a nutrition degree will cost more and take at least 3 years to complete, while it can be more difficult to find a suitable vocational course that is both accredited and affordable.

The benefits to being a nutritionist include a higher average salary, a variety of work environments including the ability to work for professional sports teams, and you could even start your own business. 

These are only a few of the potential avenues through which you can progress your fitness career. Once you have your level 3 gym instructor and your level 4 personal trainer courses and you have some industry experience under your belt you’ll be able to figure out which direction you’d prefer to take your future.

Conclusion

So, what can a level 3 gym instructor do? As well as giving gym inductions and showing members how to use the exercise machines and equipment, they can provide general training advice, use marketing and business knowledge to build client relationships, and ensure that all customers are safe and satisfied at all times.

So as far as entry-level jobs go, taking on the role of a fitness instructor is a great place to start in the fitness industry, and will lead to a lucrative and rewarding career.

If you liked everything you read today about getting into the fitness industry then check out OriGym’s range of REPS and CIMSPA accredited personal training courses and diplomas to get your career started. We’ve got the level 3 gym instructor course that we’ve been talking about throughout this article too! 

Download our FREE course prospectus before you go for useful information on all of our courses.

 

Begin Your Career In Fitness With OriGym!

Enquire today to hear more about our award-nominated courses, and how they could be perfect for you.

Sources

  1. Mazur, L.J., Yetman, R.J. and Risser, W.L. (1993). Weight-Training Injuries. Sports Medicine, 16(1), pp.57–63.

Written by Chris Allsobrook

Senior Content Editor

Chris is a former English teacher, turned content editor. He holds a first-class honours degree in English Language and Creative Writing from the University of Central Lancashire, before going on to complete his teacher training, and obtain a PGCE at Liverpool John Moore’s.

Chris is a keen runner and is currently undertaking both his fitness instructing and personal training qualifications here at OriGym. 

Outside of fitness, you’ll often find him gaming, watching the football, cooking, or spending time with his family.