How To Become An Exercise to Music (ETM) Instructor: Ultimate Guide

how to become an etm instructor: questions for yourself

Learning how to become an exercise to music (ETM) instructor can be a greatly fulfilling process, especially for those with a passion for leading classes and engaging with groups of clients at once.

At OriGym, we’ve crafted this ultimate guide to teach you everything you need to know in regards to becoming an ETM instructor. 

But first, every great ETM instructor’s career begins with a qualification, and at OriGym our Level 2 Exercise to Music course is an industry leader. Once enrolled you will be taught by our team of expert tutors who will be on hand to ensure you pass on your first attempt.

Alternatively, feel free to download our free prospectus in order to learn more about all of the amazing courses we have to offer.


What Do Exercise To Music Instructors Do?

what does a ETM instructor do?

Before you can learn how to become an exercise to music instructor it is necessary to learn what this job role entails. Following this section, you should be able to determine whether this role is right for you.

Typically, ETM instructors will lead group based fitness classes that strive to inspire clients through the use of music, choreography, and movement.

As a professionally qualified ETM instructor, you will teach classes which prompt clients to exercise to the rhythm and beat of the music. A great level of music knowledge is required, as you will need to adapt these choreographed routines to different genres. 

These classes will usually be open to all gym members and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on which class you teach as an ETM instructor, your sessions may have a specific focus or goal, such as to lose weight or tone muscle.

Some of the most popular classes that ETM instructors teach include:

  • Legs, Bum, and Tums
  • Body Conditioning 
  • Aerobics
  • Zumba 
  • SH’BAM
  • SPIN

Exercise to Music Instructor class

If you’d like greater insight into what these types of classes entail, then check out this OriGym article and learn how to become an aerobics instructor

Depending on what your work contract includes, you may be asked to either choreograph your own classes, or deliver pre-set routines that have already been created by your employers.

Please note, when operating in the role of an ETM instructor, no two classes will be the same. In order to find success within this industry, you will need to learn how to adapt your teaching style, in order to accommodate different clients, routines, and music genres. 

The Qualifications Needed to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor

Learning how to become an exercise to music instructor

If you’re reading this article in the hopes of learning how to become an exercise to music instructor, the first thing you’ll need is a Level 2 Exercise to Music qualification

At OriGym our ETM course is regulated by Ofqual and recognised by CIMSPA, certifying it to be an industry leading certification that is sure to set you up for a successful career. 

One thing that sets us apart from competitors is that you learn through blended learning. This will allow you to separate your time between our fantastic online e-learning platform, and practical workshops hosted in one of our 12 nationwide venues. 

On average students complete this course in a total of 8 weeks, and will study the following modules: 

  • How to Deliver Freestyle & Choreographed 
  • How to Teach Specialist Population 
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology 
  • The Principles of Exercise and Fitness
  • Health, Safety & Welfare During Classes

Following the competition of this course, you will be professionally recognised as an Exercise to Music Instructor. This will allow you to apply for job roles such as the one featured below for MoveYourFrame.

Exercise to Music Instructor job

From this advertisement, we can clearly see that the only qualification required to obtain this job role is a Level 2 Fitness Qualification. Other experience and skills are simply marked as ‘desirable’ meaning that it is not a necessity that could make or break your chances. 

However, this isn’t the case for every single employer. In some instances, the ETM qualification will only act as a prerequisite, and in order to secure employment, you may need to secure further qualifications. 

This could include the likes of a personal training diploma which combines both:

Or an additional specialised qualification such as a Level 3 Yoga Diploma or a CPD in Group Training

These further qualifications can be seen as a necessary requirement in the job advertisement featured below for Your Leisure.

Group exercise to music instructor

This job ad clearly states that an ETM qualification is a minimum requirement for this role, and that they’d prefer applicants who are well versed in other areas of expertise.

Therefore, if you’ve clicked this article to learn how to become an ETM instructor through education, it’s good to keep in mind that you may need to achieve multiple different qualifications before obtaining your desired job.


Enquire to Become an ETM Instructor

Enquire about OriGym's Level 2 ETM Qualification

The Average Salary of an Exercise to Music Instructor

How to become an exercise to music instructor with a salary

The discussion surrounding how to become an ETM instructor would not be complete without analysing the average salary you can expect to receive within this role. After all, this could make or break whether or not someone decides to pursue this career.

According to Payscale, the average salary of an ETM instructor is £8.68 per hour. This roughly equates to anywhere between £15k - £29k every year, making it a very lucrative and enticing prospect.

How to become an ETM instructor with a good salary

However, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt as salary sites can’t be guaranteed to be completely accurate. 

One large factor that contributes to this is that only an average is produced, and the given figure fails to take into account any external factors which may influence an ETM instructor's potential earning.

For example, somebody who has just learned how to become an exercise to music instructor will naturally be on a lower salary when compared to an industry veteran with years of experience under their belt.

If you fall under the latter category you could realistically charge significantly more than £8.68 per hour, citing your past experience and acquired knowledge as being worth a higher rate of pay.

You could also charge a higher rate of pay if you provide a service that other applicants do not. This is where specialist qualifications can be beneficial.

For example, if you have a Level 3 Yoga Diplomayou could combine this with ETM and host classes that are specifically designed to pair music with poses, stretches, and holds.

Money how to become an ETM Instructor

Furthermore, sites such as Payscale and Glassdoor tend to lump many job roles together, rather than providing any clear definition, hence why the included graphic simply refers to a ‘Fitness Instructor’s Salary’. 

These sites fail to take into account that whilst the job roles may be somewhat similar they are technically not the same. 

Don’t let these factors deter you from learning how to become an ETM instructor. The simple solution is to do your own research across several employment-based websites and determine whether a proposed salary is right for you.

Career Options For Exercise to Music Instructors 

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor Career

As mentioned within the section relating to qualifications, there are many different career options that you can pursue as an ETM instructor. 

There is no one set path for your career, and in order to understand how to become an exercise to music instructor, you must have a better understanding of every option you can pursue. 

But before we begin, if you’re questioning how to become an ETM instructor, it will be beneficial for you to know where to look for these jobs to begin with. We personally would recommend:

General Job Application Sites:

Health and Fitness Specific Sites:

Using these sites can help to optimise your search for your dream job as an ETM instructor, in whatever facet that may be.

#1 - Working at a Gym

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor at a Gym

When working in the role of an ETM instructor you can choose to work at a variety of gyms, studios and sports centres. 

Typically, these roles will see you working in a contracted capacity, either on full-time or part-time basis. The hours you work will vary depending on your employer, but can ultimately provide a stable regulated schedule. 

Within this role, you will typically lead music accompanied classes, where you’ll demonstrate choreographed routines that the gym’s clients are required to follow.  

However, other roles and responsibilities may vary depending on your employer and current position/job title.

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor at a Gym Ad

In the job advertisement above, we can clearly see that the roles required of this ETM instructor post include:

  • Supervise and lead classes and individual members 
  • Creating exercise to music sessions
  • Delivering a high caliber of customer service at all times
  • Ensuring classes correspond with health and safety regulations 
  • Maintaining a healthy relationship with co-workers and other staff members

Please remember that the responsibilities listed above aren’t identical for every ETM instructor position. 

For example, some employers may ask you to choreograph your class’ routines, whereas others may ask you to follow routines that have been pre-designed.

When looking into how to become an ETM instructor at a gym you must be aware that some contracted positions will also require further qualifications in order to secure a job.

This is due to the fact that some employers within the fitness sector will prioritise hiring holistic fitness instructors, rather than those who only have specific qualifications such as a Level 2 Exercise to Music certification. 

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor at a Gym Ad #2

This can be seen in the advertisement above for Healthiness Ltd, where it’s clearly stated that the desired applicant will hold multiple qualifications, with the Level 2 ETM certification being the minimum requirement. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to explore a contracted role within a gym, regardless of whether the position is full or part-time, you must look at the necessary qualification section. 

Remember, some employers have a rigid mindset when it comes to the client they are looking to hire. 

You could be a talented ETM instructor who has dedicated time and effort to their craft, but may come up short in comparison to an applicant with more qualifications.

However, this form of employment isn’t the only way to learn how to become an exercise to music instructor.

#2 - Self Employment/Freelance 

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor Freelance

Whilst discussing how to become an exercise to music instructor at a gym, we mentioned how that particular form of employment can be beneficial for individuals who crave structure. 

However, such a role isn’t perfect for everybody, and some may find it professionally and personally confining.

If you fall into this category, a freelance role may be better suited for your needs. This will allow you to teach exercise to music classes at a time and place that suits your needs, freeing you up to pursue other ventures should you so wish.

One thing to keep in mind before going freelance is that classes will vary in execution. One day you may be hosting an aerobics class that targets legs, and the next a full-body Zumba class. 

Additionally, as a self-employed member of staff you won’t be directly contracted by the gym or fitness center and therefore won’t receive a monthly wage. Instead, you will typically get paid for every class you teach, at an hourly rate. 

For an example of this, let’s once again look at the application for MoveyourFrame:

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor Freelance Ad

Here we can see that this particular role offers £22-30 across a minimum of 9 hours per week. Should the chosen freelance applicant solely work the 9 hours a week, they can potentially earn anywhere between £192.00 - £270.00 every week.

If you choose to pursue this role you could do so in your spare time as a side hustle, whilst still maintaining your full-time employment.

In fact, many fitness enthusiasts and experts choose to pursue this particular role. For more information on this matter head over to our article on personal training side hustles.

However, there are some downsides to working on a freelance basis, for instance working on an irregular schedule can translate into an irregular salary. 

One month you may earn a significant amount of money, and the next you may struggle to pay your bills due to a lack of available hours. 

Be sure to factor in both the positive and negative aspects of either role before fully committing to a specific job or position. 

If you’re enjoying learning how to become an exercise to music instructor we think you’ll enjoy these other OriGym articles;

Career Progression Routes For Exercise to Music Instructors

How to Become an Exercise to Music Instructor With Another Career

Once you’ve learned how to become an ETM instructor you don’t have to stay confined to that career forever. 

It’s natural to want to progress within your chosen industry, which is why we have dedicated this section to providing examples of career progression routes you can choose to follow.

#1 - Personal Training

Personal Training after ETM Instructor

One of the most natural stages of progression following a career as an ETM instructor is becoming a certified personal trainer. 

In order to progress to this point within your career, you’re first going to need to become qualified and obtain a personal training diploma. This certification will ensure that you are professionally recognised by peers, clients, and governing bodies within the fitness industry.

You don’t even need any prior experience within fitness to enroll - the only requirement we have at OriGym is to ensure all our students are above the age of 16. 

With a personal training diploma, you are able to study other topics and modules that can be transferred to your sessions with clients. This includes:

  • Anatomy physiology and kinesiology for exercise and health
  • Principles of health and wellbeing for exercise, fitness and health
  • Applying nutritional principles to personal training 
  • Programming Personal Training Sessions
  • Delivering exercise programmes for Personal Training sessions

Personal Training ETM Instructor Progression

In comparison to learning how to become an exercise to music instructor, the PT diploma primarily focuses on how to craft and tailor workout plants for specific clients.

Rather than solely teaching a fitness class to music, you can instead work 1-on-1 with clients in order to create a workout program that is designed to be effective for their needs and fitness goals.

Ultimately, learning how to become a personal trainer can be one of the most beneficial things you can do within the fitness industry. 

Once this qualification is obtained you will be able to see a significant increase in your salary, whilst also opening the door to a wide scope of personal training career options

#2 - Boxercise Instructor 

How to Become an ETM Instructor Boxercise

You may have read this subheading and thought ‘what does boxing have to do with learning how to become an ETM instructor?’. 

Well, as a qualified ETM instructor looking to expand their career, you may wish to consider a CPD course in boxing and padwork

At OriGym our course can be completed in as little as one day, spanning topics such as: 

  • The Development of Boxing
  • Preparing to Box
  • Punch and Pad Work Techniques
  • Conditioning Drills

This CBD course can complement your existing qualification as an ETM instructor and allow you to teach Boxercise classes. 

These sessions are considered to be a form of HIIT workouts, centered around boxing training. These classes differ from competitive boxing as it does not require participants to spar, attendees will simply engage with boxing training routines. 

An ETM qualification greatly helps when leading these classes, as you can create choreographed boxing routines focused on strikes and footwork that will match the beat and rhythm of music.

Boxercise job how to become an ETM Instructor

As mentioned above, the CPD course in boxing and padwork can complement your existing ETM qualification, and potentially expand your career opportunities in the process. 

This is evident from the job advertisement above, in which we can see that this type of trainer is in demand within this specific location. 

But what about if you can’t find jobs for boxercise instructors? In that instance, we’d recommend starting your own class. 

Don’t view a lack of job advertisements as a lack of interest on clients' behalf. Instead, view it as a gap in the market. If nobody is providing Boxercise classes in your local area, then be the individual to break this cycle, and give clients a training session that nobody else is providing.

#3 - Circuit Trainer

How to become an ETM Instructor for groups

When exercising to the beat and rhythm of music certain songs are naturally going to compliment routines and workouts better than others. This may leave your playlists looking a little one-note, in a bid to keep a sense of consistency throughout your class.

For example, exercises that are of high intensity may require some techno or hyper-pop mixes, whereas cool-downs may be reserved for your favourite ballads or acoustic songs. 

However, with a CPD course in circuit training you create sessions that provide clients with a pleasant mix of a variety of genres. 

Circuit training is endlessly customisable and can combine multiple exercises into one workout session. For example, if you wanted to lead a session around strength training you could focus on compound and explosive exercises using weights. 

How to become an ETM Instructor Aerobics

Combining the above-mentioned CPD course with your existing ETM qualification will allow you to create a playlist that shifts with the intensity of the circuit routine. 

For example, when clients change from one workout to another you could gradually alter the music that’s being played. If the circuit routine is winding to a gradual conclusion then you may wish to consider a more stripped back sound.

You can learn more about this topic by reading our article on the benefits of circuit training.

#4 - Zumba Instructor 

Dancing How to become an ETM instructor

Many incorrectly assume that once you’re qualified with a Level 2 certification in exercise to music that you can instantly teach Zumba, but that is not the case.

Whilst an exercise to music qualification will allow you to teach dance-based exercise classes, Zumba is an officially trademarked class and can only be taught by instructors who have earned the specialist qualifications. 

Becoming an officially certified Zumba instructor costs a total of £336.50 and will see you learning about:

  • Basic Movement 
  • Choreography 
  • Queuing
  • And so much more!

The best thing about this is that the course only takes one day to complete, meaning that you could open a vast array of career opportunities instantaneously. 

Earning a Zumba qualification doesn’t even mean that you have to instantly give up ETM classes either. 

Zumba job ad how to become an ETM Instructor

Now that you are qualified to teach multiple different choreographed disciplines you can work on a freelance basis accepting BOTH ETM and Zumba instructor jobs, such as the one featured above.

Therefore, if you’re looking to earn money you should greatly consider learning how to become a Zumba instructor, in order to accept more freelance employment opportunities.


Enquire to Become an ETM Instructor

Enquire about OriGym's Level 2 ETM Qualification

The Skills Required To Become an Exercise To Music Instructor 

In pursuit of answering how to become an exercise to music instructor we must delve into the various skills which are required in order to perform the role. 

#1 - Musicality 

How to become an ETM instructor musicality

Learning how to become an ETM instructor is a very different job in comparison to existing roles within the fitness industry. 

An in-depth knowledge of health and fitness will only get you so far, and in order to be a truly successful ETM instructor, you must have a good sense of musicality too. This skill refers to the ability to perceive and reproduce differences in music, including the harmony, rhythm and pitch.

This skill is required in order to create choreographed routines that specifically accompany certain genres of music or songs.

During these exercise to music sessions, instructors must ensure that specific movements, workouts and/or poses are conducted to coincide with the song. 

For example, if you’re running a Boxercise class you may choose to pair the strikes and punches to the beat, meaning that clients will be punching in synchronisation. 

This is the primary purpose of the exercise to music classes, and without this skill, the rest of your teachings will be rendered useless. 

Leading ETM Classes Instructor

Simply playing music in the background of exercise classes is not the same as ETM, realistically anybody could hit play and do this. 

Therefore, if you aren’t using musicality to pair exercise with music harmoniously then you're not performing your job correctly. This may greatly disappoint your clients, and could even prompt them to not return for future classes.

Musicality is a skill that can be honed with time, dedication, and practice, pairing exercise with music will eventually become second nature. However, everyone must start somewhere and a Level 2 Exercise to Music qualification will teach you the basic fundamentals of musicality.

Use this qualification as a launching point for your future career, by learning the basics of this skill you can eventually develop and mold it, in order to fit the type of music you wish to exercise to. 

#2 - Communication

How to become an ETM instructor motivation

Developing and utilising communication skills is vital when it comes to learning how to become an exercise to music instructor. 

One important thing to remember is that as an ETM instructor you will typically be teaching classes of clients at once. This results in a mixed bag of individuals who are all at different skill levels, with some even being complete fitness novices.

In order to teach your entire class efficiently, you must ensure that your communication skills are strong and well-developed. 

This will help you when performing tasks such as teaching exercise routines, as during these stages you will have to give exact instructions as to how this specific movement can be accomplished.

Some may even state that ETM sessions require more precise detail when providing verbal demonstrations. 

How to become an Exercise to Music Instructor communication

For example, as an ETM instructor, you will not only have to provide a demonstration of the movement/routine in question but also offer further detail as to how and when the clients should perform it in relation to the music.

Failure to provide these instructions accurately can lead to clients working out incorrectly, once again defeating the entire purpose of the class. 

In order to improve your communication skills, it may help to initially prepare a script for the class ahead. This can be created to coincide with your choreographic process and doesn’t even need to be too overly complicated. 

When creating your routine for the class, think of an explanation that you can use alongside the movements in order to ensure that they’re performed correctly by the class. This could even be a simple sentence but must be detailed enough for beginners to grasp. 

#3 - Observant 

How to become a ETM Instructor Positivity

As an ETM you should always have your client's best interest at heart, and when conducting these classes you must ensure to watch everyone closely.

An observational eye will allow you to watch the entire room in order to see if anyone is struggling with, or exceeding in particular aspects of the routine. From this, you will be able to provide appropriate feedback, be it with words of praise or a simple correction. 

The observational eye, otherwise known as the trainer's eye, is a skill that will naturally develop over time. As a recent graduate, you may initially be overwhelmed by the amount of clients attending your ETM classes, but this will ease over time and allow you to grow as an instructor. 

Failure to hone this skill could result in client dissatisfaction, and potentially even an injury in severe cases. 

How to become an ETM instructor instruction

For example, if a client is continuously performing a routine in an inaccurate way they could be unknowingly putting themselves in harm's way. As an ETM instructor it’s your responsibility to ensure that this is corrected immediately, to avoid anyone from getting hurt.

One way that you could develop this skill as an ETM instructor is through attending classes yourself. 

See how instructors with more experience conduct themselves in class, specifically focusing on what feedback they provide to their own clients.

From this experience you can apply what you have learned to your own class, now offering feedback that will benefit your clients in a variety of ways that are specific to them.

#4 - Creativity 

skills how to become an etm instructor

When initially questioning how to become an exercise to music instructor, you may not have anticipated creativity to be one of the key skills required of the role.   

However, in order to create choreographed routines for specific classes and music genres, you’re going to need to use some level of creativity. 

This will keep your classes exciting for regular clients who may otherwise become bored of the same old repetitive routines. In turn, by keeping clients engaged you can also ensure that retention levels within your class remain high.

Creativity can also have a similar effect for ETM instructors, who would undoubtedly become bored teaching the same class week after week.

One way to keep ETM classes creative is to allow clients to choose their own songs, which can be added to a curated playlist. 

creative skills how to become an etm instructor

These songs can be random or can be requested to meet a specific brief, such as ‘Please provide your favourite upbeat pop songs for aerobics class’. 

For those seeking musical inspiration check out our article discussing the best music to work out to.

Not only does this keep classes creative by incorporating the clients into the choreographic process, but it can act as a challenge for the ETM instructor. 

If this occurs you will then have to create a routine that is not based on your personal music preferences, but those of your own class.

#5 - Empathy and Sensitivity 

Positivity required to become an ETM

When discussing the observational eye required to be an ETM instructor we briefly touched upon the idea that classes will be filled with clients of different backgrounds and skill levels.

Keep in mind that everyone finds fitness for different reasons, for enthusiasts your ETM class may just be one session in a long list they participate in throughout the week. Whereas others may be joining for more personal reasons, such as health complications, weight loss aspirations, or a novice curiosity.

As such, you simply cannot treat everyone the same, as certain individuals may require more assistance than others. 

You need to be empathetic to the point where if you see a client repeatedly struggle with a specific movement, or the class in general, you must provide more than a simple correction mid-session.

How to become an ETM instructor with different clients

Ask them to stay behind after class and try to provide an effective solution for their specific situation.

This could be an alteration to a movement that makes it easier for them to execute, or it could be recommending a class that is better suited for the skill level. 

Empathy isn’t a skill that can be learned with qualifications, but rather one that every human should innately possess. 

Just be sure to actually listen to the client’s thoughts and concerns during this period. That way you will be able to provide an effective solution that is specifically beneficial for their needs.

These are just a few skills that you can implement whilst teaching classes, for further advice on how to teach multiple clients at once check out this OriGym article dedicated to tips for group fitness instructors


Enquire to Become an ETM Instructor

Enquire about OriGym's Level 2 ETM Qualification


Do I Need Insurance as an Exercise to Music Instructor?

Question about how to become an ETM Instructor

Whilst not a vital necessity, all exercise to music instructors are strongly advised to have some form of insurance. 

Leaving yourself uninsured may result in severe legal issues and financial loss, so whilst it may seem like a hassle in the moment you’ll be thankful for the protection in the long run.

Companies such as Insure4Sport can provide coverage for as little as £32.99 a month, with pricing varying depending on what classes you intend on teaching. With these monthly installments, you can receive coverage for up to £10million.

Insure4Sport specifically provides public liability, personal accident, and personal income insurance, protecting ETM instructors in the instance of:

  • A client damaging your equipment 
  • A specific action is brought into question if a client is injured 
  • You personally become injured during a session which means you’ll miss work
  • You require physio treatment for an injury suffered at work
  • Your equipment is stolen
  • An employee is injured during your session and claims compensation

This type of blanket coverage isn’t always given by every provider, so be sure to read your insurance quote thoroughly to ensure you’re receiving the right protection for your current role. 

Before You Go!

We hope that this article has been informative in the process of learning how to become an exercise to music instructor. 

This is one of the most adaptable qualifications within the fitness industry, opening the doors for you to immediately begin teaching fitness classes or pursue a higher certification of your choice. 

So what are you waiting for, enroll today and earn your Level 2 Exercise to Music certification and become an official instructor. With our industry-leading course and team of tutors, you are sure to find future success upon graduation. 

Or download our FREE prospectus to learn all about every course we have to offer!

Written by Hannah Oxborough

Fitness Professional & Blogger

Join Hannah on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Hannah is qualified in Exercise to Music and is passionate about fitness and discovering alternative ways to make exercise as fun as possible. She enjoys aerobics and Zumba classes, and taking part in obstacle mud runs for charity. In her spare time she loves reading, practicing her Spanish and walking her miniature schnauzer, Stella.

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