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certified fitness instructor salary

UK Fitness Instructor Salary Explained

 If you’re thinking about becoming a fitness instructor, then you probably want to know what the average fitness instructor salary is in the UK.

Here at OriGym, we know that changing careers is a huge commitment, and certainly not a decision that you would make without knowing what to expect in terms of salary. 

For that reason, we have compiled this guide, in which we have broken down the all-important question of “how much do fitness instructors make?” into the following sections: 

  1. Average Fitness Instructor Salary: Does it Exist?
  2. UK Fitness Instructor Salary VS PT Salary
  3. Who Hires Fitness Instructors & How Much They Pay
  4. How to Maximise Your Fitness Instructor Salary

Are you already certain that a career as a fitness instructor is for you? If so, check out our REPs accredited Level 2 Fitness Instructing course now or enquire about our Online Personal Training courses.

For further information about OriGym courses, download a course prospectus - it’s FREE! 

 

Kick-start your career in the fitness industry

Become a fitness instructor with OriGym!

Average Fitness Instructor Salary: Does it Exist?

certified fitness instructor salary

Due to the huge number of variables and external factors that affect the salary of a fitness instructor, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for the ‘average’ wage.

According to Payscale, Total Jobs, and Glassdoor, the average fitness instructor salary is between £16,387 and £18,579. 

These figures, however, are somewhat distorted as these websites calculate an average salary based on the jobs that are uploaded to their respective sites, failing to factor in the external influences that can affect the rate of pay for fitness instructors.

The fact that each of these sites shows a different average salary for the same role shows that they aren’t the most reliable source of information. 

So, what factors do you need to consider when researching the average salary of a fitness instructor? Allow us to explain!

Factors That Influence the Average Gym Instructor Wage

#1 Location 

Fitness Instructor Salary per class image

Location is one of the biggest influences on salary, with the average wage for almost all jobs varying significantly up and down the UK. For example, whilst the average person in Liverpool takes home £26k a year, that goes up to £38k in London.

The fitness industry is no exception, the average fitness instructor salary in London is typically much higher than anywhere else in the UK with wages as high as £13 per hour.

Whilst this is partly due to the increased cost of living in London, the fact that there are plenty of prestigious venues based in London bumps this hourly rate up too. 

For that same reason, being based in any city centre location can increase your potential earnings. Central locations tend to have a lot more demand for fitness instructors and tons more gyms than remote locations. 

Whilst you're here, feel free to download your guide to a "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer":

#2 Freelance Roles 

freelance Fitness Instructor UK Salary

Another influence on the salary of a fitness instructor that sites such as Payscale fail to consider is the fact that freelancers are among the highest-earning fitness instructors.

Because these sites base average wage on the jobs advertised on their sites, they completely ignore the freelance fitness instructor salary and the earnings of anybody who runs their own business.  

Plenty of fitness professionals work on a freelance basis, for example, by holding group classes at local gyms. As a freelance fitness instructor, your salary is determined by your individual schedule, client base, and whether you need to pay rent to a gym or health club to use their facilities. 

Highly successful fitness instructors can earn over 60k per year, if not more. Technically, as a freelancer, your income has no limits - the more work you do, the more money you’ll make.

Once we're done here, why not check out the OriGym guide to becoming a master personal trainer.

#3 Independent Fitness Instructors

Fitness Instructor Salary per hour

Perhaps even more of an influence on earnings than working as a freelancer, the highest fitness instructor pay is almost definitely among those who run their own business.

Starting your own business usually requires you to spend some time creating sales and marketing strategies, however, having your own business means the amount that you can earn is unlimited - so it's definitely worth it. 

Once again, these figures aren’t factored into the calculations made by job sites.

Interested in maximising your fitness instructor pay rate by starting your own business? Check out the OriGym guide to starting your own fitness bootcamp business or find out how to write a gym business plan here

#4 Hours Worked 

UK Fitness Instructor Salary image

A further issue with the accuracy of the average pay for fitness instructors shown on jobsites is that the number of hours worked is not factored into their reports.

Because the figures are based on the salaries offered within their job adverts, and not calculated using the advertised gym instructor salary per hour, the overall average is dragged down by fixed-contract and part-time fitness instructor salary offers.

When looking at the average salaries on these sites, bear in mind that this average yearly salary might not reflect a full 35-40 hour working week. 

You can get a better idea of the average wage by looking at the hourly rate offered by employers and multiplying that by the number of hours you expect to work.

#5 Only Considers Basic Salary 

average UK Fitness Instructor Salary image

One final reason to take the average salaries you see online with a pinch of salt is that these figures are mainly a reflection of basic starting salaries and don’t account for commission or pay rises. 

For an entry-level role, we’d say £18,200 to £21,000 is around the average fitness instructor annual salary, with roles in central or affluent areas easily exceeding that.

However, as in any industry, the more experience you gain as a fitness instructor, the more you should expect to earn. This is a prime example of the issue with using a job site as a source for average salaries, as the majority of these sources indicate an increase of only £198 for a year's worth of experience! 

Fitness Instructor Salary VS Personal Trainer Salary: The Breakdown

how much does a fitness instructor earn uk

If you’re unsure about the difference between a fitness instructor and a personal trainer, then this section should help break it down. 

Qualifying as a fitness instructor is the first stage of a career in the fitness industry, and most fitness instructors go on to become a certified personal trainer. Simply put, if you want to progress your fitness career in a way that will significantly impact your salary, qualifying as a PT is essential

The average entry-level salary for a PT is £18,838 (according to Payscale), which is immediately £2253 more than the average starting salary for a gym instructor

What’s more, thanks to the increased opportunities for career progression as a PT, there is much more room to improve on the gym instructor pay rate. 

Why do personal trainers earn more than fitness instructors? The main difference between these roles is that a personal trainer is qualified to do everything that a fitness instructor does, plus they can create training plans that are tailored to individual clients and they’re qualified to hold 1-1 sessions.

Considering the fact that PTs hold a higher level of qualification and can offer more services than gym instructors, it only makes sense that they typically earn a little more.

Are you thinking about skipping straight to a lucrative PT wage? Read our article to find out more about the personal trainer salary specifically

After completing A level 3 personal trainer course you can work as a PT in a wide variety of environments, with your salary rising as you gain experience and further fitness knowledge. 

Having a level 3 qualification also allows you to move onto a specialised course, for example, a Level 4 Nutrition qualification. Completing a Level 4 qualification will see your salary rise even further by increasing the services that you can offer and making you an ‘expert’ in a specialised area. 

Boosting your health and fitness instructor salary by completing further qualifications is something that we’ll discuss in more detail a little further on. But for now, let’s discuss who employs fitness instructors and how much they pay!

Who Hires Fitness Instructors & How Much They Pay

how much does a fitness instructor earn

A little earlier on, we mentioned that it's difficult to answer ‘how much does a fitness instructor earn?’ or define an ‘average’ wage as there are multiple factors that can influence earnings. 

Aside from the points made above, one of the biggest factors affecting wages in the fitness industry is who your employer is and where you work.

Unsure how this can affect what you earn? Here’s what you need to know...

Leisure Centres

how much do fitness instructors make uk

Working in a leisure centre is a great place to start your fitness career. Many of these jobs are funded and managed by the local council, they offer a varied working environment, and due to the general demand for these facilities, there is an added level of job security. 

Council-run leisure centres often pay freelance fitness instructors to teach group exercise classes, for example, in this job advert from Derby City Council below.

fitness instructor average wage

As you can see, Derby City Council is offering group fitness instructor's an hourly rate of £18.80 - a huge step up from the usual rate of around £9 per hour. 

However, one thing to remember is that some of these higher-paying jobs may only be part-time or fixed-term contracts, and often require extra qualifications, like yoga, spin, or a group exercise CPD.

Working as a fitness instructor in a leisure centre full-time consists of various day-to-day activities and involves working with a wide range of clients, often including individuals visiting the facility as part of an exercise referral programme. 

This kind of role typically pays anywhere between £18,200 and £19,000 a year and offers a great opportunity to get familiar teaching classes and gain valuable experience in the industry. 

Hotels 

health and fitness instructor salary

Many hotels these days have gyms that are accessible to the general public as well as guests. Most of the bigger and upmarket hotel brands employ fitness instructors to provide an added layer of customer service to enhance their client's overall experience. 

Unfortunately, there is huge variation in the average fitness instructor salary in UK hotels, with many only advertising hourly rates or not specifying salary at all. 

Generally, the hourly rates all tend to be around £8.50 to £8.90, which roughly equates to £16,320 to £16,742 per year. You’re probably thinking that’s not a lot of money, but it’s worth noting that the majority of hotels offer other bonuses on top of your wage, including discounted prices on rooms, free meals, uniform, and other perks. 

If you’re just starting out in the fitness industry and looking for somewhere to get your foot in the door, a hotel gym is a great place to start out. 

Cruise ships

cruise ship fitness instructor salary

Whilst a lot of people take time off from their workouts during their holidays, some individuals actively search for fitness classes and group exercise opportunities, hence the need for fitness instructors onboard cruise ships. 

There are even cruises that boldly promote their fitness facilities!

The benefits of being a fitness instructor on a cruise ship are huge, including:

  • Worldwide travel
  • Free accommodation and food
  • Discounts on shopping, entertainment, and other facilities (such as spa treatments)
  • Networking and meeting new people
  • Opportunity for promotion - most cruise ships company invest a lot of time and money into their employees, meaning they’re more likely to promote internally

There are, however, a couple of drawbacks with this career option, the main issue being that the cruise ship fitness instructor salary is significantly lower than similar entry-level roles, and the only way to accurately find out the salary is to ask the cruise ship company directly. 

Other disadvantages include long working hours, having minimal days off during cruises, not having a lot of personal space or sharing accommodation, and almost constant pressure to upsell.

This career path is not for the fainthearted, but it will provide a fantastic life experience and the chance to see the world! It's definitely worth doing some research and making a few enquiries into what it's like to work as a fitness instructor on a cruise ship.

Universities

salary of a fitness instructor

Not only do degrees such as ‘sports coaching’, ‘sport and exercise science’, and ‘sports performance’ require practical assessments and access to a gym and gym equipment for proper learning, but many universities also have on-site gyms and sports facilities for students. 

This means that many Universities hire fitness instructors to maintain the gym floor and provide support to students.

The fitness instructor starting salary at Universities is slightly more generous than other career paths. As shown in this post advertised by The University of Warwick, an entry-level role, this job posting is advertising for two part-time candidates, with the part-time fitness instructor salary being £18,009 - £19,133 per annum. 

Within this job advert, the University states that the Level 2 Gym Instructor Course is an essential requirement for employment so it’s worth investing in this qualification before fully committing to a role. 

Don't forget to download your free guide to a "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer":

Gyms

how much money does a fitness instructor make

Gyms might seem like the obvious answer when thinking about who hires fitness instructors, but unfortunately, the reality these days is that it's becoming less common for gyms to hire fitness instructors.

This is because more and more gyms are opting to hire personal trainers and other fitness professionals who are at least Level 3 qualified, cutting out the need for Level 2 gym instructors. 

This demand for Level 3 qualified fitness professionals means that the gyms that do hire fitness instructors usually only pay minimum wage

David Lloyds and Total Fitness are two of the biggest gym brands in the UK that still hire fitness instructors at level 2, but they only offer minimum wage salaries. In addition to this, David Lloyd specifically hires group fitness instructors, so you may need experience in this or even an extra qualification to land even this job.

Understandably, this may put you off joining the industry altogether, but ultimately becoming a fitness instructor is the first step in your fitness career, meaning you won’t be on this salary forever.

Whilst the entry-level salary for a fitness instructor is on the lower end, there are a lot of opportunities for progression within a gym environment. Some of these include:

Working at a Gym on a Freelance Basis - You might struggle to land a salaried fitness instructor job that pays more than minimum wage, but working for a gym on a freelance basis could open up the opportunity of an increased income. 

Some of the benefits of working as a freelance fitness instructor at a gym include a higher hourly wage, an element of flexibility over your hours and the classes you teach, and you aren’t required to recruit individuals for classes unlike instructors that start their own business.

Assistant Gym/Fitness Manager - One way that a fitness instructor can progress in their career is to become an assistant gym manager. Whilst some fitness facilities only have one gym manager, there are plenty of facilities that employ one or two assistant managers - it really depends on the size of the venue! 

The wage is a good step up from a certified fitness instructor salary, averaging around £17,500 to £19,500. However, you’ll be much more likely to land this role if you have a level 3 PT qualification. 

Gym Manager - the vast majority of gyms, leisure centres, hotels (and other fitness environments) have a team of fitness instructors and personal trainers, and therefore require a manager. This is the logical next step up from assistant gym manager, with an increase to an average salary of £22,859

For a complete breakdown of salary and what this role involves, have a look at our Gym Manager Salary Guide.

Offer Additional Services - A further way to earn more as a fitness instructor in a gym is to complete additional or specialist qualifications. Whilst we’ve already touched on the fact that having a Level 3 certificate in Personal Training is almost essential, there are plenty of other further qualifications that can help to boost a fitness instructors income

Want to find out more about the best qualifications to increase the salary of a gym instructor? Here goes…

How To Maximise your Level 2 Fitness Instructor Salary: Further Qualifications

fitness class instructor salary

A Level 2 Gym Instructor Course is essential to start out as a fitness instructor and it's a great first step towards kick-starting a career in the industry. But, it doesn’t stop there! There are tons of further qualifications and certificates that you can achieve to advance your career, and as a result, earn more money. 

Some workplaces, mainly gyms and health clubs, allow you to learn on the job and acquire more qualifications while you work - some will even pay for your courses!

As we’ve already touched on, the first logical step as a fitness instructor is a Level 3 Personal Trainer Course. This expands your knowledge of health and fitness and enables you to train clients in 1-on-1 sessions, tailor fitness programmes, offer general nutritional advice, gain a lot of new clients, and ultimately, earn a lot more money.

The difference between the fitness instructor wage and that of a PT is pretty significant, so in the long term, it's definitely worth completing a REPs accredited Personal Training Diploma.

Not only will this benefit you financially, but once you become a Level 3 Personal Trainer, your opportunities for progression open up even further as you can gain further qualifications.

Specialist Qualifications to Boost Your Fitness Instructor Salary 

Become a Sports Massage Therapist 

gym instructor wage uk

There are multiple areas of the fitness industry that you can specialise in, one increasingly popular area being sports massage therapy (SMT).

Many gyms and health clubs hire sports massage therapists to treat their clients, but that isn’t the only way you can work as a sports massage therapist. SMT has benefits for a range of individuals, from casual gym-goers to professional athletes. 

As more and more people recognise the benefits of sports massage therapy, more fitness professionals are starting to offer this service either as a mobile business or as a side income from an independent SMT clinic. 

Whilst you do need the level 3 sports massage therapy qualification, the average salary for a full-time sports massage therapist is £29,000 a year, so the course will quickly pay for itself! 

Not only that, but unlike a lot of other advanced fitness qualifications, you don’t actually need a Level 3 PT qualification to get onto this course, so you could opt to pursue a career in SMT instead of taking the traditional route of becoming a personal trainer. 

If you want to know more about this career, we recommend these posts:

Qualify as an Exercise Referral Specialist 

how much do fitness instructors make image

If you’re interested in specialising in another area of the health and fitness industry, you might want to look into qualifying as a Level 3 Exercise Referral Specialist.

A career in exercise referral involves working with patients who have been referred to yourself by a health or medical professional. The main role of an exercise referral specialist is to improve a patient's health or well-being by designing and implementing an exercise program for that patient specifically. 

In our guide to starting a career as an exercise referral specialist, we talk more about what this role involves and how much you can earn, even breaking down a job in exercise referral offering almost £40,000.

Offer Nutrition Services to Increase Your Earnings

gym instructor income image

Level 4 courses are specialised qualifications that allow for progressive expertise in various health and fitness disciplines, for example, sports nutrition. 

Completing a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition Course would allow you to specialise in nutrition and athletic performance.

With this qualification, you can boost your earnings by offering nutrition services, such as tailored meal planning, alongside working as a fitness instructor. If you enjoy this area of the industry, you could even go on to pursue a higher paying role by becoming a sports nutritionist or starting your own nutrition business! 

Want to know just how much you can earn if you choose to specialise in the field of nutrition? You’ll definitely want to read the OriGym guide to sports nutritionist salary here.

Level 4 Qualifications 

level 2 group fitness instructor salary

Nutrition isn’t the only area that you can specialise in, there is a whole range of Level 4 fitness qualifications that you can study, such as an Advanced qualification in Lower Back Pain Management or a Level 4 Obesity & Weight Management course.

Either of these courses will allow you to earn well above the average gym instructor salary by specialising in areas such as obesity prevention or training individuals with lower back conditions. 

Achieving a level 4 qualification puts you in the top 10% of personal trainers in the UK, and increases your client base and wage prospects.

The more of an expert you become, the more you will be able to charge for your services, and the easier it will be for you to market yourself (or your business) as a high-end, quality service!

Specialise with CPD Training 

level 2 fitness instructor salary

Outside of committing to further Level 3 and 4 qualifications, another way to increase your earnings as a fitness instructor is to complete continuing professional development (CPD) courses.

If you aren’t ready to do a Level 4 course just yet, then CPD courses are a great way to set yourself apart from other fitness professionals. 

Here at OriGym, we offer tons of REPs accredited CPD courses, all of which will allow you to improve your knowledge of health and fitness in general, specialise in specific niches, and increase your fitness instructor income

Worthwhile CPD courses for fitness instructors to complete include: 

Perhaps the most relevant CPD course for fitness instructors is to complete a group exercise training course. Typically, the certified group fitness instructor salary is slightly higher than that of a regular fitness instructor, and so becoming a group exercise to music instructor could be really worthwhile. 

Conclusion

After reading through our article we hope that you now know enough about the average fitness instructor salary to decide whether this is the right job role for you. 

We hope that our article has helped you to get a better idea of how much you can earn, and what you can do to boost your salary and progress into a rewarding and profitable career. 

If all this information has inspired you to get qualified and join the fitness industry, we can certainly help you here at OriGym. We’ve got the essential Level 2 Gym Instructor Course and a whole range of REPs and CIMPSA accredited personal trainer packages to get you ahead of the competition.

Find out everything you need to know about the range of courses we offer by downloading our FREE course prospectus

 

Kick-start your career in the fitness industry

Become a fitness instructor with OriGym!


Written by Dee Hammond-Blackburn

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Dee on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Dee holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and is currently finishing her MA in Marketing Communications and Branding from Edge Hill University. Her passion for fitness and content writing brought her to OriGym, and she has since become a qualified Personal Trainer and a Sports Nutrition Specialist. Combining her skills in fitness and writing, Dee has a professional interest in fitness blogging, content creation, and social media. Outside of her writing role Dee enjoys reading, healthy cooking, and playing football with her dalmation.

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