Do you want a career in fitness, but don’t necessarily want to go down the personal trainer route? Or are you already a personal trainer, but fancy expanding into something a little different? Have you considered looking at how to become an aerobics instructor?
When you think of aerobics, the common stereotype that may spring to mind is 80’s, lycra and leotards, sweatbands and leg warmers. However, modern day aerobics is slightly different. It’s not quite as ‘cheesy’, but it still focuses on combining aerobic activity with bodyweight strengthening exercises to improve muscular endurance and strength.
In this guide, we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to how to become an aerobics instructor, from things you'll need to consider, qualifications you’ll need, aerobics instructor salary, job options and potential further progression and development routes!
Before we get started feel free to download our "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer" Guide see you can see what its like to be a personal trainer:
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So, if you want to find out how to become an aerobics instructor, keep on reading and let’s get started!
History of Aerobics: Where Did it Come From & Why is Becoming an Aerobics Instructor Still A Great Career Path For You
The term ‘aerobics’, along with the specific method of exercise, was originally developed by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, an exercise physiologist. He developed exercises to prevent coronary artery sickness, and the exercises were originally intended for those in the military.
However he eventually decided that the general public would also benefit from this, and he published a book in 1968, which was titled “Aerobics”.
It was later made popular in the form of dance aerobics by Jackie Sorenson, who developed aerobic style dance routines that we now associate with an aerobics style class.
Judi Shepherd Missett began as a dance instructor but decided to gear her classes more towards fitness with less emphasis on the proper dance techniques, and this led to her developing Jazzercise in the 1970’s.
In 1989, professional gymnast Gin Miller developed step aerobics. The idea came about after a knee injury - she was advised by her doctor to step up and down on a milk crate in order to help strengthen the muscles around the knee, and this led her to develop the step aerobics concept.
How to become an Aerobics Instructor: What Style of Aerobics do you want to teach?
Nowadays, there are a huge variety of aerobics classes to choose from.
Of course, there’s your classic aerobics class, which consists of 2 sections: cardio followed by an MSE section - Muscular Strength and Endurance. This section will either consist of body weight conditioning exercises, which focus on muscular endurance, or weighted exercises, for example using dumbbells or a light barbell, and these exercises would focus on muscular strength.
And then of course there’s your variations of these classes: step aerobics, aqua aerobics and dance aerobics, for example Zumba.
There’s also a huge variety of classes that involve aerobic activity, and could therefore be classed as an aerobics class. Any class that involves aerobic activity could fall into this category. Examples of these classes include: pilates, swimming, running. There are also branded classes, for example Les Mills classes such as Sh’Bam, Body Pump and Body Combat.
So why become an Aerobics instructor?
A career as an aerobics instructor, whether as a part time or full time instructor, is very varied and rewarding. There are plenty of aerobic classes you can get involved with teaching, and the role offers creativity and diversity.
You could have the opportunity to create and choreograph your own routines, depending on how you choose to become employed as an aerobic instructor. If you choose to set up and run your own classes, then you will be able to tailor your classes to what you enjoy and to what best suits your participants!
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Is becoming an aerobics instructor right for you?
Before embarking on the journey on becoming an aerobics instructor, you should first ask yourself some questions to ensure that the role is right for you.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
If the answers to these questions do not highlight any barriers for you, then the role of an aerobics instructor could be perfect for you!
So if you’re still keen on starting this career, keep on reading and let’s get into how to become an aerobics instructor!
So… Where to start?
So, you’ve decided you want to become an aerobics instructor, but where do you start? There’s so much information out there and it can be overwhelming and confusing, and filtering out the relevant information from the not so relevant can seem like an impossible task.
But not to worry, that’s why we’ve put together this article!
We recommend doing some basic research as a first step. What are the ideal qualities of an aerobics instructor? Are there jobs or is there demand for the role in your area? Do you need any qualifications, and if so, which ones? Are there any skills you could improve on to boost your chances of success?
It can also be useful to look at job adverts and read through the job descriptions and person specifications to get an idea of what potential employers and companies are looking for.
We have complied some of our own knowledge and research and included it in this article to help you get started. Of course, you should still do your own research as the results could differ based on your location, and of course different employers and companies may ask for different skills, qualifications or experience.
What Skills are Needed to Become an Aerobics Instructor?
The main skills that you’ll need to become an aerobics instructor are:
Some other skills needed to become an aerobics instructor that can put you in good stead are: musicality, rhythm, strong leadership skills, and good communication skills. You will need to be able to identify and work to the beats of a music track, in time, and be able to communicate each move clearly to participants.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become An Aerobics Instructor?
When looking at how to become an aerobics instructor, you will need the Exercise to Music qualification as a base to work from.
We’ve briefly covered this qualification below, however you should take a look at our guide on How To Become an ETM Instructor if you want a more in depth look at the Exercise to Music qualification.
The Level 2 Exercise to Music has no prerequisites, meaning that you do not need any previous qualifications in the fitness industry to complete the course. This makes it a perfect starting point to get your foot in the door within the fitness industry.
The course will cover both Level 2 Anatomy and Physiology and Level 2 Principles of Exercise. This will cover muscles and joints and their respective movements (eg. flexion and extension, abduction and adduction), names of bones and their structures, and the circulatory, cardiorespiratory and energy systems of the body, amongst other things. You will also cover basic fitness principles such as training guidelines and exercise adaptations and progressions.
The theory side of the qualification also covers the theory behind exercise to music, for example identifying the beats and phrases in a piece of music, how to choreograph routines, and how to safely warm up and cool down.
Additionally, the course involves a practical element. For the practical assessment, you will choreograph your own class and then teach it to a group of participants while being assessed by an examiner.
You will need to pass both the theory and practical sides to the course in order to achieve the qualification.
Once you are qualified, you will then be able to teach your classic aerobic classes. If you’re looking to teach other classes that incorporate aerobic exercise, it is likely you will need to obtain additional qualifications if you do not already have them.
Some examples of where this would apply include:
Pilates - Level 3 Mat Pilates, Level 4 Pilates Instructor
Swimming - Swim Instructor courses (Level 1, Level 2, etc.)
Zumba - Zumba teacher training (Zumba certification) if you want to teach Zumba branded classes
Les Mills - if you want to teach branded Les Mills classes eg. Body Pump.
You can also expand on your knowledge to improve the scope of your classes. For example:
Level 3 Older Adults
Level 3 Pre & Post Natal
How to pick the right course provider to Become an Aerobics Instructor
When you are choosing a course provider, you should look at a few different providers to ensure that you are choosing the best option for you.
One important point is to make sure you look into each provider to ensure that you are getting a qualification that is recognised by REPs and CIMSPA, or that the qualification is awarded by a governing body such as NCFE, YMCA Awards or Active IQ.
Without this accreditation, the course is essentially worthless, as it will not be recognised by any employers. Ensuring the course is accredited means that you have been taught to national standards and have covered all the necessary topics to be safely and competently qualified in that area.
You should also find out what resources are available to you through each provider, and what support is offered.
Another great tip is to look at reviews and testimonials from past students, as this can give you an authentic insight into the standard of the provider and their course.
Find who is Hiring Aerobics Instructors Today....
There are plenty of opportunities out there for budding aerobic instructors. You can become self employed and set up your own classes, you can become self employed and work for a gym or fitness centre, or you could become employed for a gym or fitness centre.
In this section we have broken down the ways in which you can work as an aerobics instructor, so keep on reading below!
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Aerobics Job Description Example:
When you first began to look at how to become an aerobics instructor, you may have come across a few job adverts for the role. If you’re looking to work for a gym or fitness establishment, whether employed or self employed, this may be one route you could go down when searching for jobs.
Below is an example of an advert for a freelance aerobic instructor role within a leisure centre:
This ad details the qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience you will need for this particular role. It also lists additional knowledge and skills that you will need to be successful within the role.
The skills and qualifications can vary depending on the company and/or your location, however the majority will require at least a Level 2 Exercise to Music qualification, along with excellent communication and customer service skills.
Opportunities as fitness instructors are usually on a freelance, self-employed basis, and for this reason you won’t find as many job adverts for this type of role as you would for a typical office based job, for example.
So, let’s take a look at the other options that are available for people who are looking at how to become an aerobics instructor…
Getting Employed as an Aerobics Instructor
If you go down this route, you will be employed by a company, whether that’s directly or on a freelance basis. If you start to work for a company, all the hard work will be done for you. You will not need to contact any gyms or venues and try to negotiate slots to teach your classes, as the company will already have agreements in place for this.
It is more than likely that the company will have agreements with multiple venues, so you may have to travel between different locations to teach your classes. This is quite different to working for one specific gym or fitness studio, so you should think carefully about any barriers it could present to you if you were to go down this route.
For example, you will need to consider transport / fuel costs - do the company cover/subsidise these? Or are all transport costs your own responsibility?
A great benefit of this route is that it is a great way to build confidence and develop your experience. Generally, when working for a company who specialise in running fitness classes, the main instructor has a team of assistants to help them deliver the class. Assistant duties can include things such as controlling the music, helping with participants queries, and demonstrating modified versions of exercises. It can be a great way to get used to being up there in front of participants without the full pressure of delivering the whole class, and can therefore be a good route to go down if you would prefer to gain some experience and build your confidence before you get into teaching yourself.
Become an Aerobics Instructo for a Gym/Fitness Centre
When becoming an aerobics instructor, you can choose to work for one particular gym or fitness centre if you would prefer to work out of one location, instead of travelling between various sites.
If you go down this route, you would be an employed aerobics instructor by that specific gym/fitness centre. This can be direct employment on an aerobic instructing salary, however it is usually on a freelance basis.
This option is usually set up the way a gym would have an agreement with a personal trainer, for example, you can use the gym facilities to teach your classes and pay the gym rent for this, or you can teach a few classes for free to cover the costs of rent.
It is important to look into the pro’s and con’s of being directly employed or working freelance for a gym. For example, if you want the benefits of having an independent business without a lot of the common risks, working freelance for a gym could be perfect for you.
In both cases, you will not have the cost of buying equipment/hiring a hall/venue, as you are able to use everything provided by the gym. Furthermore, insurance and support is often included as part of your agreement.
On the other hand, if you like the sound of working freelance but don’t want to still be influenced in some way by any outside sources (ie. the gym may ask you to teach at certain times, etc.), then why not consider setting up your own classes?
How to Become An Aerobics Instructor: Go Self Employed
A common route for aerobic instructors to go down is the route of setting up their own classes. This involves hiring out village halls, labour clubs, church halls etc., and then advertising yourself and your classes in order to attract clients.
When you are first starting out, this can be quite tough as you don’t have a pre-existing client base, whereas if you have been teaching for a while, for example working for a gym teaching classes, you may already have some loyal clients that will follow you if you then decide to set up on your own.
But although it may seem hard, don’t worry, it’s not impossible! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your name out there. Get friends and family involved! Design leaflets or flyers and post them up around your local area.
For some more ideas on how to advertise yourself to attract clients, take a look at our article on Personal Trainer Marketing Strategies. Although the article is geared towards personal trainers, there are definitely some handy tips and strategies that you can take inspiration from and make work for you as an aerobics instructor!
Starting Your Own Aerobics Studio
This route is a great option for when you are further along in your aerobic instructor career. If you’re looking to be 100% your own boss, to move away from gyms and fitness studios, or have your very own premises to teach out of, rather than church halls etc., then opening your own studio can give you this independence.
Opening your own studio is definitely an exciting business venture and could be the most rewarding step you take in your career as an aerobics instructor.
The first few steps in opening your own studio will involve lots of research. You will also need to find a suitable and safe venue, and ensure you have the correct permissions etc. from your local council to use the building as a fitness studio. There’ll also be a lot of other admin to sort out, but once it’s all out of the way, it will definitely all be worth it. As well as the necessary (albeit boring!) business and legal sides, there’s the fun part too - decorating the interior to your taste, creating flyers and leaflets to advertise your studio, creating social media pages to promote your studio, and perhaps even organising an event to celebrate your grand opening!
There are plenty of pro’s to enjoy when it comes to owning your very own studio. But of course, where there are pro’s there must be cons. It is important to consider both and weigh them up against each other when considering opening your own studio. We’ve outlined a couple of each below:
We’ve expanded on a few of these below:
- Design your own timetable
One of the main pro’s to opening your own studio is that you can design your own timetable. You can choose what classes to run and when, giving you complete control over when you teach. This is a very convenient bonus as you can schedule classes to fit around your own schedule.
However, one thing you may need to consider is that there will be times when classes would be more popular, and if your looking to get lots of customers through your doors, you should also consider this when designing your timetable. For example, early morning classes and evening classes tend to be more popular than daytime classes, as people like to fit in a class before or after work.
- Set your own class prices
Another great benefit to owning your own studio is that you can set your own prices. You can design a membership, or different levels of memberships, or have a set price per class. You could also have a loyalty reward scheme, which would encourage participants to return, for example “Get your 3rd class free!”
This allows you to compete with larger gyms and facilities, and allows you to be in control rather than having to abide by prices set by venues/gyms.
- Provide opportunities for budding (and established) aerobics instructors
A great way to give back, once you have opened and established your studio, is to provide opportunities for people who were once like you, looking at how to become an aerobics instructor.
You can help them get started in the industry and offer them slots to teach classes, allowing them to build up their experience as an aerobics instructor.
You can also provide opportunities for established aerobics instructors and rent out your studio for class use, allowing you to earn additional income. As a space specifically for aerobics classes, you have an advantage over church halls, labour clubs etc.
- High initial investment costs
To start off with, you will need to invest a large amount of money into this venture. You will need to find a suitable premises to purchase, and cover all legal and admin costs. You’ll likely need to spend money in renovating/decorating to ensure it is suitable for use to run aerobics classes and is to your taste. You’ll also need to invest in marketing materials to promote your new studio and bring in the customers. Will you need any equipment?
Even after the initial investment costs, you will still have further costs that come with the running of your studio. This all comes down to you, whereas before you needn’t have worried as everything would be dealt with by the gym or venue you were teaching out of.
Overheads will include things such as rent (if you haven’t purchased the building), gas and electric, insurance, advertising and marketing, taxes.
If you are opening up your studio to allow others to teach out of, this can be a great way to earn an additional bit of income that can help towards covering your overheads. Depending on how many classes you have running per week, you could potentially cover the majority, if not all, of your overheads with income earned from rent paid by other instructors.
- Lots of hard work in the beginning
We’re not going to pretend its easy. It will definitely take lots of hard work, especially in the beginning. You’ll have to secure a suitable premises and ensure it is safe, and work hard to promote your new studio to get people in so that you can make it a profitable business venture.
But, although it will be hard work, it will be worth it once you start to see the benefits coming into fruition. It is a very rewarding career path and can also prove to be very lucrative!
Do I need First Aid Certification to Become an Aerobics Instructor?
It may surprise you to know that, as an aerobics instructor, you are not required to have a first aid certificate. Although it is not required, here at OriGym we recommend you obtain a first aid certificate and keep it up to date. We believe this is super important, especially if your looking to set up your own classes or open up your own studio.
If you are working for a gym or fitness centre, there will be staff members qualified in first aid present at all times, however we would still recommend obtaining the certificate to ensure optimum safety for your class participants.
Insurance: What Insurance do I need as an Aerobics Instructor?
All fitness professionals require insurance to cover themselves in case of any accidents or injuries leading to claims.
If you are working for a gym, it is likely that they will have insurance that will cover you as long as you are directly employed by them. Double check this with your employer for peace of mind before you begin teaching any classes for the gym to ensure that you are fully covered. If you are working freelance, you will need to sort out your own insurance.
You can get aerobics instructor insurance from the likes of REPs or Insure4sport. Fees for aerobics insurance can vary from company to company, but it's normally priced between £30 - £50 per month.
Aerobics Instructor Salary: How Much Can You Earn as an Aerobics Instructor?
Of course, one of the most commonly asked questions when looking into any new career path is the salary. What can you expect?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with a specific figure in answer to this question. Because the role of an aerobics instructor is very varied, and there are various routes you can go down, your earnings can differ. Furthermore, as there are lots of part time aerobics instructors out there as well as those instructing full time, along with instructors working in gyms and instructors working for themselves, it is difficult to reach an average salary figure.
If you are working as an instructor part time around your current job, you will obviously be earning less than if you were instructing full time.
The amount you earn also largely depends on where you work, ie. for a gym or a club, or freelance in public venues; how many classes per week you teach and your average number of participants per class.
Despite the many factors that can influence the salary of an aerobics instructor, we did some general research and we found a range of figures from between £11 an hour to upwards of £35 per hour. Your hourly rate will depend on the gym or club you are employed by, and can also vary based on your location and potentially by your level of experience.
You could also increase your earnings by undertaking additional qualifications to improve your knowledge and expertise. For example, if you qualify in Pre and Post Natal or in Special Populations, then your earnings are likely to increase as you have more of a niche and can work with a broader range of people.
On the other hand, if you work freelance out of public spaces, or you own your own studio, then you can set your own class prices and therefore you essentially have the potential to earn as much as you like.
You can of course also qualify as a personal trainer along side instructing so that you can train clients on an individual basis in a gym setting. This can give you an alternative way to earn and interact with clients in the gym. If you’re interested in becoming a personal trainer, check out our article on How To Become A Personal Trainer.
So, there we have it!
So there you have it: Everything You Need to Know on How to Become an Aerobics Instructor.
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