How to become a fitness instructor

A fitness instructor, also known as a gym instructor is the role you achieve once you complete the level 2 certificate in gym instructing. It has been a key role in gyms and health clubs in the past, with gym instructors helping improve the member experience by helping with technique and maintaining a clean and safe environment.

In this article we’ll explain the roles and responsibilities of a gym instructor and explain how to become a qualified fitness instructor.

Roles and responsibilities of a gym instructor

In the past gym instructors were a key role in health clubs. They were responsible for carrying out inductions, keeping the gym clean and tidy, teaching classes and generally helping to improve the member experience. As such they were a key part of the success of a fitness facility. However, over time health clubs have found ways to generate more revenue for the club from personal training services. 

Previously qualified personal trainers may have paid a rent to the gym to train their clients there, or they may have given a percentage of each session to the gym. In the last decade or so gyms have started to employ personal trainers and run all personal training revenue through the business. Meaning a client would book and pay for a session with reception, then the gym would pay the PT a percentage of that. By employing the personal trainers they then use them to carry out the duties a fitness instructor would have done previously.

This means unfortunately that over time the demand for gym instructors has reduced and the demand for personal trainers has increased considerably. This isn’t the end of the world for gym instructors as the logical next step is to become a level 3 qualified personal trainer anyway.

How to become a fitness instructor

The qualification you’ll need is a level 2 certificate in gym instructing. You’ll need to make sure it is accredited by a reputable awarding organisation that is regulated by OFQUAL, such as Active IQ, YMCA, Transcend or Focus.

The level 2 certificate is equivalent to GCSE level, so for most people starting this when you have finished school the standard is not too difficult. The course includes 5 modules including professionalism & customer care, health & safety, client consultations, planning & instructing gym-based exercise and anatomy & physiology.

On average the course takes around 2 months to complete however it can be completed much fast if you dedicate more time to studying. The cost ranges from around £400 to £1000 depending on whether you prefer an online or classroom based learning experience, with the online options being more affordable.

There are no prerequisites to become a level 2 gym instructor, in fact this certificate is the prerequisite for most other courses within the fitness industry, so anyone can get started straight away without any prior experience.

Career opportunities for a gym instructor

As discussed, the majority of gyms and health clubs would rather employ level 3 qualified personal trainers, however there are some that will still employ gym instructors. In fact recently some chains have committed to hiring gym instructors that are currently working towards the level 3 personal trainer qualification because they are so desperate for PT’s. So once you have started your qualification it would be worth approaching gyms prior to finishing the course to line up employment for when you’re done.

Most course providers will offer a combined diploma in gym instructing and personal training that is slightly cheaper than doing the 2 course separately, so if you intend to progress onto a PT qualification then it is probably worth doing the combined course from the start.