In fitness, jobs often overlap or have similar elements, so it’s vital to fully define and understand a fitness instructor and their job description.
If you’ve ever wondered what exactly the role of a fitness instructor is, and all the duties of a fitness instructor, our guide aims to get rid of any confusion or misconceptions, and help you decide what’s right for you when it comes to fitness.
We’ll also explore some of the burning questions you might have, such as “what does a group fitness instructor do”, and provide you with all the advice and information you need to get started.
- What Is A Fitness Instructor?
- What Does A Fitness Instructor Do?
- What Skills Do I Need As A Fitness Instructor?
- Fitness Instructor Job Description Example
- Fitness Instructor Job Description vs Personal Trainer: What's the Difference?
- What Would My Schedule Look Like As A Fitness Instructor?
- What Salary Can I Expect to Earn as a Fitness Instructor?
- What Do You Need to Become a Fitness Instructor?
- What Are The Opportunities For Career Progression?
- How Can I Become A Fitness Instructor?
- Our Conclusions
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What's it really like?
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What's it really like?
What Is A Fitness Instructor?
Put simply, a fitness instructor (also referred to as a gym instructor) is perhaps one of the most commonly seen faces when you visit the gym.
They’ll usually be a representative or employee of the gym, meaning you’ll often find them wearing clothing/a uniform that’s easily recognisable, and that distinguishes them from other gym goers should you have any questions.
As a general rule, the roles and responsibilities of a fitness instructor are the day-to-day running, maintenance and oversight of the gym, and ensuring that everyone can continue to have the same smooth, efficient running that they’ve come to expect from their fitness centre.
A key distinction to make (that many are not aware of) is how they differ from a personal trainer. OriGym’s comprehensive report outlines the difference between a personal trainer and a fitness instructor, and what you can expect from each of those professionals.
A further, arguably more crucial piece of information to note is that a gym instructor will have completed a course in, and qualified as, a Level 2 gym instructor. This is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a gym instructor, and will often act as the gateway into personal training (which we’ll explore in much more detail later in this article).
However, with this guide, we’ll take a much closer look at a fitness instructor job description, and what you can expect as part of the role of a fitness instructor.
What Does A Fitness Instructor Do?
Fitness instructor duties encompass a huge range of daily tasks and responsibilities that all contribute towards the effective functioning of the gym, ensuring that people can continue to use the services without any effect on the quality or efficiency.
We’ll outline just some of those core fitness instructor responsibilities, and how they all form an integral part of a fitness instructor job description.
Monitoring Equipment and Equipment Usage
One of the key fitness instructor duties is to make sure that all of the equipment (whether that’s squat racks or medicine balls) is available and its correct place.
While this may seem a relatively straightforward component of a gym instructor job description, it’s critical to ensuring the gym can function properly, and that everyone is able to use what they want to use.
We’ve all been there - you want a specific weight of kettlebell or dumbbell, and it’s not available, or it's been left halfway across the gym floor. This is an integral part of good fitness instructor’s duties - guaranteeing that gym goers have exactly what they need to facilitate their workouts.
It also ensures that there’s a limited scope for injury (as, if everything is available in one designated area, you won’t have to go anywhere or cross other gym goers to get anything), as well as damage to the equipment.
Again, this is arguably the most important part of a fitness instructor job description, as it ensures that you have a gym to go to in the first place, and one that’s well managed and maintained makes it easier for you to achieve your fitness goals.
Correcting Serious Postural Mistakes
Another of the most important gym instructor duties is to be aware of is form and posture among those who are in the gym, and how you can best help with correcting any posture that could cause harm.
As you’re likely already aware, form is absolutely vital when it comes to exercise - it not only mitigates the chance of injury (amongst a multitude of other benefits of good posture) but it ensures that we continue to see our desired results in the areas we want to see them.
This is why correcting common errors in form is one of the most important elements in the role of a fitness instructor - it not only keeps people safe, but helps them push towards their goals and aspirations.
You can also build rapport and credibility with those who attend the gym, and simply by performing part of your fitness instructor duties, you’ll establish yourself as a knowledgeable member of the gym team.
However, this 1-to-1 contact is limited, and is usually reserved for personal trainers, which is often the next logical step after joining the gym staff, and becoming accustomed to the duties of a fitness instructor.
General Gym Maintenance, Cleanliness and Safety
One of the lesser mentioned (but no less important) parts of the fitness instructor job description is the general upkeep of the gym environment.
What this entails usually includes some element of the point we mentioned previously (“Monitoring Equipment and Equipment Usage”), but fitness instructor responsibilities extend far beyond that.
As part of your Level 2 gym instructor qualification, you’ll learn basic safety and first procedures, how to respond in emergency situations, and the basic principles of sport and exercise, guaranteeing you have the correct grounding in all the basics.
You can then apply this knowledge in your everyday fitness instructor duties, whether that’s directing gym goers to the nearest fire exit should there be an emergency, or applying that understanding in a more practical context by helping adjust posture.
Part of the role of a fitness instructor is to create and maintain a safe, tidy environment in the gym, and that can often involve cleaning up after those who have left items behind, either through negligence or mistake.
While we would always encourage people to abide by basic gym etiquette, and be responsible in exercise, it’s vital that, as part of your fitness instructor duties, you do these small things so that the bigger things can take place.
Teaching Group Exercise Classes
The benefits of group exercise are well documented, but without a tutor, there would be no classes, and these varied advantages would never exist.
This means that teaching group exercise classes is easily among the most important duties and responsibilities of a fitness instructor, and it’s one that affects a wide range of people, perhaps without them ever realising.
It’s also mutually beneficial, in that it allows you as a gym instructor to lead a class in a topic or exercise form that you’re passionate about, and that you want to impart to others in a unique and interesting way.
Classes also function as a way to build rapport with the “regulars” - those who attend the class more frequently - and help you to establish yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about fitness.
Of course, this group exercise does have its caveats - you won’t be able to help with any issues with posture that you might be able to in a 1-on-1 setting, and your opportunities to develop a bond with individuals is limited.
Offering Informal Advice on a Range of Topics
As part of the role of a fitness instructor, you’ll often be asked for informal advice and guidance across a range of fitness queries.
While this may seem a minor or insignificant part of the fitness instructor job role, it can often lead to people coming to trust you as a member of the gym staff, and as someone who has a keen interest in exercise.
We’ve put together a short list of topics you might be asked about as part of your fitness instructor duties:
- Posture - how you should position your body to achieve the maximum results
- Nutrition - what to eat before, during and after exercise
- Ideas for Exercises - what should you do next in your routine
- Sets and Reps - how much should you do for each exercise?
- Gear - ranging from cushioned running shoes for the treadmill, to chalk for weightlifting
However, it is important to note that, while you may have a significant interest in these topics, you won’t be qualified to dispense official advice - to be able to properly inform those who you’re helping, you would need at least a Level 3 personal training diploma, which also encompasses a gym instructor qualification.
What Skills Do I Need As A Fitness Instructor?
While we’ve so far looked at more concrete elements of the gym instructor job description, it’s also vital that we consider the skills and qualities that ensure you can undertake your fitness instructor responsibilities as effectively as possible.
We’ll outline some of the key skills you’ll need so you can better understand the question “what is the role of a fitness instructor?”
However, it is crucial that you’re aware that these are in addition to all the roles and responsibilities of a fitness instructor that we’ve just discussed, as well as the mandatory minimum of a Level 2 gym instructor qualification.
This is much more than just being able to talk or crack a joke - you need to be able to discuss goals and aspirations, and how they can achieve what they want to achieve.
You need to be able to understand that sometimes it can be difficult to find motivation, and provide ideas on how to self-motivate, or how they can find inspiration from other sources.
It’s also important to be able to understand how to encourage groups as well as individuals - an exceptionally good gym instructor course (OriGym’s Level 2 fitness instructor course leads the way in this regard) will provide extra tutelage on how to motivate even the toughest of groups.
These skills not only help you in the role of a fitness instructor - they translate extremely well to other areas, and leave you poised for a great career in fitness, such as qualifying as a personal trainer.
Passionate About Fitness
Without this enthusiasm, you’d not only perform poorly in your fitness instructor duties and responsibilities, but you wouldn’t enjoy what you do, which could also translate into how you come to view your own personal fitness.
If you’re inclined to go for a position as a fitness instructor, we would always suggest that you ensure you’re serious about committing to a career in fitness
Thirst For Knowledge
After you’ve completed your Level 2 fitness instructor course, the learning doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop there.
The best fitness instructors (and those who consistently tick every box in even the strictest job description of a gym instructor) are always learning, and actively seeking out knowledge to allow them to excel in the roles and responsibilities of a fitness instructor.
Whether that’s from gym goers, from colleagues, from your own fitness journey, or from experts in the field, one of the unmentioned traits you need to possess is that desire to continue to grow as a professional, and continue to excel in the role of a fitness instructor.
It’s also important to mention here (although we’ll be discussing career progression in more detail later) that the most effective way to continue this learning journey is to pursue a Level 3 qualification in personal training.
Not only is it more desirable to employers (as we’ll learn in our next section), but it provides you with tangible, usable skills that can be invaluable should you decide to stay as a fitness instructor.
We’ve put together 3 more articles that we think link perfectly with this one:
- What To Expect From A Personal Training Session
- Should I Become a Personal Trainer?
- Government Funded Personal Training Courses vs Non-Funded
Fitness Instructor Job Description Example
Now that we’ve examined all the key components of a thorough gym instructor job description, as well as what you can expect from your day-to-day fitness instructor duties, let’s focus on an example.
This should hopefully give you a comprehensive overview of what’s expected of you, and how it all combines to form a cohesive and thorough fitness instructor job description.
As we can see from the example, many of the fitness instructor duties and responsibilities we examined earlier are present here, including “observing the gym floor to ensure members are using gym equipment correctly” and “answering members’ queries and offering advice on exercise and healthy eating”.
You might also spot a couple of additional fitness instructor duties, such as “conducting gym inductions”, which is a less prominent but no less important part of any fitness instructor job description.
These traits are often found across every gym instructor job description, but if they don’t sound appealing, it’s important to do your own research, and discover exactly what you want before you submit your fitness instructor CV.
However, in our research, we found that many of the fitness instructor job descriptions outright requested that you were qualified as a Level 3 personal trainer, as opposed to the Level 2 qualification that’s the minimum necessary to be considered for the role of a fitness instructor.
In this scenario, our recommendation would be to undertake a personal training diploma, which not only qualifies you with the Level 2 gym instructor certificate, but provides you with the Level 3 personal training qualification too, ensuring you’re able to apply for those jobs that require a Level 3 certification.
It will also provide you with much more scope for future career development, which we’ll discuss in much more detail later in this article.
Fitness Instructor Job Description vs Personal Trainer: What's the Difference?
Let’s focus now on how exactly a fitness instructor job summary differs from an advertisement you might see for a personal trainer.
Just to recap, the main difference (in terms of more concrete qualifications) is that, to become a personal trainer, you need a Level 3 personal training qualification to be fully certified as a personal trainer (compared to the Level 2 you need to be a gym instructor)
However, in terms of the actual duties you’ll undertake, there’s a much greater variety, and these often overlap or build upon the duties we’ve seen as part of the fitness instructor job description.
From our extensive experience in the personal training industry, some of the jobs you’ll need to do (amongst many others) are:
- Creating, designing and implementing tailored exercise programs that encompass your client’s goals and aspirations
- Providing bespoke advice and feedback based on those same targets, and how you can work together to achieve them
- Demonstrating correct and effective form, and how best to adapt exercises to meet any requirements (such as a lack of flexibility)
- Building, explaining, and helping to integrate tailored diet plans into the client’s lifestyle
While these duties may seem quite daunting at first, they form part of what we feel is a fulfilling day in the life of a personal trainer.
We’ve compiled a list of both the overlapping duties of a fitness instructor, as well as those that are exclusive to a personal trainer, so you can make a complete, informed decision about what’s right for you.
Of course, as we’ve just seen with our example fitness instructor job description in the previous section, many employers would prefer you to already have (or, in the case of our exemplar gym instructor job description, “be working towards…”) a Level 3 personal trainer qualification.
What Would My Schedule Look Like As A Fitness Instructor?
While we’ve already read about what an average fitness instructor job description entails, it’s important to see how they’d form part of a working day.
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions where there isn’t a singular answer.
Unlike a personal trainer (who is almost always responsible for establishing their own schedule), an average fitness instructor’s schedule (when working in a fitness facility or gym) is determined by the gym manager.
Through extensive research, we’ve found a few consistencies across many fitness instructor job descriptions:
- Five days a week (inclusive of weekends)
- Shifts vary from week to week - no fixed schedule, so flexibility is a must
- Will often be required to work weekends and evenings
Of course, this schedule is entirely dependent on the gym or fitness centre that you work for.
For instance, if you work for a 24 hour gym, you could be on the rota until 10:00pm or even 11:00pm. Or, there are private or specialist gyms that are only open until early afternoon.
On average, though, you can expect to work 5 days per week. We’ve created an exemplar schedule to help you better visualise what a schedule might look like.
Compare this to a personal trainer. Many will opt to work more hours than this simply to fit in their clients as well as get more personal training clients and, as a result, earn more. However, others will simply work the hours that they want to, working as their own boss.
What Salary Can I Expect to Earn as a Fitness Instructor?
This is, understandably, a question you’d have, especially as this could potentially be your future career. Plus, the duties of a fitness instructor aren’t easy, and you deserve to be paid fairly for what you do.
Sadly, this is another question where there is no real definitive answer, and as you might expect, the salary for a fitness instructor fluctuates depending on a number of factors, the main one being your level of qualification.
According to the online data company Payscale, the average yearly salary for a fitness instructor is approximately £16,927. Of course, this is an average across the UK, and this can change depending on the gym chain, and the fitness instructor duties and responsibilities you’ll be expected to undertake.
However, as we’ve previously mentioned, your level of qualification can drastically increase this. A Level 2 gym instructor is not only a great qualification to have, but it also forms a mandatory part of the pathway to becoming a personal trainer.
“But what does a PT earn?”
Using the data from Payscale again, the average salary for a personal trainer is £21,482, which (as with the fitness instructor salary we just examined) is affected by numerous different factors, including your level of experience, the number of clients you have, and how much you decide to charge per hour/session.
OriGym’s comprehensive report on personal trainer salary explores each factor in much greater detail, and how you can work out what’s right for you.
What Do You Need To Become A Fitness Instructor?
This section will act almost as a checklist for what you need to know about becoming a fitness instructor, and the skills and traits you’ll need to really excel in your fitness instructor duties and responsibilities.
First off, before even looking at any gym instructor job descriptions, you’ll need to ensure you’re fully qualified as a fitness instructor, which means you’ll have completed the Level 2 gym instructor course at a minimum.
However, in the average job description of a fitness instructor, they’ll usually request that you’ve also completed a Level 3 personal training diploma, as this gives you additional grounding and expertise in fitness, as well as combining both a Level 2 (gym instructor) and a Level 3 (personal trainer) qualification.
We’d also recommend that you are incredibly passionate about fitness, and helping others achieve their fitness goals - the duties of a fitness instructor can be challenging at times, and it’s important to be enthusiastic about what you do.
You’ll also need to be flexible, and willing to work with a diverse range of clients and gym goers. One of the lesser mentioned roles of a fitness instructor is to induct new gym members, and this can often mean you’re working with people who are completely unfamiliar with a gym environment.
There are also a multitude of other traits to consider, such as how knowledgeable you consider yourself when it comes to fitness, how well you can lead a group class, and what area of fitness you feel as though you specialise in.
What Are The Opportunities For Career Progression?
When you think about a career in fitness, it’s also vital to consider where you’ll be able to progress once you feel confident in your fitness instructor responsibilities.
There are a great many advantages to completing your Level 2 gym instructor course prior to moving onto a Level 3 personal trainer qualification.
It not only allows you to dip your toe into the fitness waters to work out if it’s right for you, but it also gives you the opportunity to work alongside the gym’s existing clientele, building rapport and relationships that can then progress should you decide to move forward with your career in fitness.
Once you’ve completed your Level 2 gym instructor course, and achieved your REPS status, you open yourself up to a vast array of development opportunities. We’ve outlined just a few of the options available to you.
Additional Courses and Qualifications
It’s always a fantastic idea to diversify your skillset with additional CPD or specialist fitness courses. These not only represent an additional point you can add to your fitness instructor CV, but they provide options for new career developments, too.
Take, for instance, OriGym’s Level 3 sports massage course.
This is one of the most sought after qualities, and, should you decide to complete this course and add it to the skills you bring to the role of a fitness instructor, your wage will reflect that.
While the initial outlay may be daunting, OriGym’s payment plans allow you to pay in instalments, meaning you can add this heavily in-demand skill to your repertoire, and start searching for fitness instructor job descriptions that match your skill set.
Or, if you’re searching for something to augment your Level 2 gym instructor qualification, OriGym’s range of CPDs provide opportunities for you to supplement what you do with additional, specialist fitness knowledge.
The most requested course is our Strength and Conditioning CPD, which provides training in a range of specialist areas including postural assessment, which is often a part of the day to day duties and responsibilities of a fitness instructor.
Arguably most importantly, the fitness instructor definition often encompasses many elements that provide you with foundations of a successful career as a personal trainer.
We’ve already gone into great detail about how many gym instructor job descriptions will ask for a Level 3 personal trainer qualification, and how that additional qualification can seriously boost your earnings.
But the Level 3 personal training course also represents an entirely new career option (as well as an array of new skills and ideas), and one that is often both rewarding and lucrative.
Why might you choose to venture into personal training after excelling in your fitness instructor duties?
- Working more intimately with clients
- Build your own brand and business with your own original ideas
- Much more scope for progression and development, with master personal trainer courses
- And, of course, more money!
Already set on progressing to a Level 3 personal training course after completing your Level 2 gym instructor qualification? Combine the two with OriGym’s industry leading personal training diploma, and save over £400, as well as streamlining your learning experience.
So you’ve come to learn and love the fitness instructor responsibilities - leading energetic and enthusiastic group classes, assisting members with their fitness queries, and creating an environment where everyone can flourish - but you now want to move your passion onto something else in the fitness industry.
Perhaps that might be away from the gym floor, and focused more on what people eat, and how you can have a meaningful impact on their lifestyle and dietary choices.
That’s where sports nutrition comes in.
By completing OriGym’s Level 4 sports nutrition course (which you don’t need any prior qualifications to undertake), you can advertise yourself as someone who’s officially authorised to dispense dietary and nutritional advice.
In this role, you wouldn’t only work with gym goers and those who are training strength, but with those who are at the peak of their fitness journey, and are seeking advice on how to take it to that next level.
Sports nutrition is ideal for those who have excelled in every part of their fitness instructor job description, and want to specialise further into nutrition.
Seeking a development opportunity that incorporates your love of athletic performance, injury prevention and mitigation, or simply speaks to your passion for the scientific side of exercise?
You could specialise into a more clinical field, which includes:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Athletic and clinical training
- Injury rehabilitation
- Sports medicine
- Fitness specialist
This is perhaps one of the most diverse roles on this list, especially given that you could be working in a vast range of different environments, from home visits to schools and campuses, as well as clinics and hospitals.
It’s also ideal if you’ve already been working for an extended period of time as a fitness instructor or as a personal trainer, as you’ll already have a client base that trusts you, and knows that you’ll be able to provide a quality service.
For many, the idea of being your own boss, regardless of what you’re doing, is quite an appealing prospect.
Of course, as a personal trainer, you’ll already have experienced that level of unmatched freedom and ability to organise your own schedule. But, if you’re really not interested in working on a 1-to-1 basis, then your options for being the boss are limited.
Fortunately, there is another option - gym manager.
This role brings with it a number of different advantages, including a fixed, stable salary, and the opportunity to act as a mentor and role model for those who are just beginning their fitness career.
As an added bonus, all of the skills that you’d find in a fitness instructor job description put you in the best position to become a gym manager.
However, there is one major caveat which can often put people off - you will be primarily responsible for a lot of administrative and financial duties, and representing the gym on a corporate level.
How Can I Become A Fitness Instructor?
The all important question now that we’ve discussed every aspect of the role of a fitness instructor. And we’d say it’s surprisingly easy to do so!
We’ve mentioned this throughout the article, but it does bear reiterating - you must have a minimum of a Level 2 gym instructor qualification to even consider applying for a job as a fitness instructor.
This is something that will be apparent in every fitness instructor job description, and acts as the threshold into the fitness industry.
However, we'd also strongly recommend opting for a Level 3 personal training diploma, as this not only offers you scope for future career development, it’s also (as we’ve seen) fast becoming a requirement present in many gym instructor job descriptions.
OriGym’s comprehensive exploration of how to become a fitness instructor explores all possible avenues in great depth, and covers just what you can do to make you stand out when applying for fitness instructor roles.
Before You Go!
The aim with this guide was to provide you with a complete overview of what you can expect from becoming a gym instructor, whether that’s the fitness instructor definition, or just what you’ll be seeing in an average gym instructor job description.
Fitness is a diverse field, and it’s one that we’d encourage anyone with a passion for exercise, and a desire to see people succeed in their goals, to join.
With OriGym’s flagship personal training courses, this first step into the fitness industry is an easy one to make.
They offer unparalleled support and advice, both on your course and into your career, as well as guaranteed interviews at gyms across the country. And with the most competitive price on the market, they present themselves as the clear choice for anyone considering a career in exercise.
Learn more in our FREE prospectus!
What's it really like?
Download Our "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer" Guide
What's it really like?