Complete Guide to Teaching Fitness Classes

teaching fitness classes

Whether you’re an avid gym goer, or you only visit occasionally, the chances are you’ve seen a qualified instructor teaching fitness classes. Perhaps, if you’re hugely into exercise, you’ve wondered how they’ve been able to teach exercise classes, and the path you need to take to be able to do the same.

That’s where OriGym’s ultimate guide to teaching group fitness classes comes in.

Whether you’re wondering how to get certified to teach fitness classes, or the key traits you’ll need to truly exceed when teaching fitness classes, we’ll answer all the questions you might have, as well as explaining the necessary steps to becoming qualified.


But if you’re already confident in your fitness abilities, and want to go beyond teaching group fitness classes, then perhaps you’re poised for a career as a personal trainer.

OriGym’s internationally recognised personal training diploma takes you from no prior experience to a fully qualified PT, with 7 days a week expert guidance, a library of tailored resources, free examination resits, and a guaranteed post course interview at gyms across the country.

Interested? Click here to download our FREE prospectus, and explore more of what we offer, and how it could be ideal for you.

What Are Fitness Classes?

While this may seem a little basic or self-explanatory, it’s vitally important to immediately address any misconceptions or misunderstandings, especially as fitness is such a broad field, and terms can often overlap.

For instance, teaching fitness classes is vastly different from small group personal training sessions, although both offer their own unique benefits, and have similar names.

Fitness classes are a staple of most modern gyms - even smaller independent fitness centres will offer classes of some description, although this will likely be on a reduced schedule.

These classes are open to all members of the gym, and will follow a set routine to allow all participants to keep up, and get involved with what’s happening. They’ll last for between 30 minutes and an hour, and often revolve around a central concept or focus (such as weight loss, or specific muscle groups).

We’ve outlined some examples of more common fitness classes below:

  • LBT (Legs, Bums and Tums) - An exercise class that focuses on specific muscle groups, specifically the legs (quads, hamstrings and calves), bum (glutes) and tum (abdominals).
  • HIIT - Stands for High Intensity Interval Training. A challenging workout that combines short recovery periods with highly intense, difficult exercises.
  • Spin - Completed on exercise bikes, this involves keeping pace with the instructor, with a mix of gentler and more challenging sections.
  • Yoga - A more relaxed form of exercise, it combines stretches and poses with breathing techniques to focus the mind and body.

Class sizes can vary, but the most important takeaway here is that, should you decide to begin your journey into teaching fitness classes, you’ll be delivering the routine to a group of people, and therefore need to be knowledgeable of exercise and how it can affect the body.

However, the qualifications you complete before you start teaching fitness classes provide you with everything you need to know to thrive in your role.

What Qualifications Do I Need To Teach Fitness Classes?

As you may have expected, you will need some more formal qualifications to start teaching group fitness classes. 

These provide you with the perfect grounding for a successful and prosperous career in the fitness industry, as well as teaching you all the necessary skills and information you need to be able to deliver a thorough experience for your students.

At the very least, you’ll need a Level 2 fitness instructor qualification to be able to work in a gym environment. This provides you with a wide range of key information, from learning about human anatomy and physiology, to all the principles of exercise and fitness, as well as learning how to maintain a safe and productive environment.

This is the necessary certification to teach fitness classes, and the baseline for anyone wishing to work in the fitness industry - it will always be requested when looking to apply for a position in a gym. 

However, many gyms will expect you to have taken that education a step further, and achieved a vocational qualification in training and teaching groups in a fitness setting.

The ideal option for this is the Group Training CPD offered by OriGym. This not only sets you apart from other candidates, but you’ll also learn integral skills, such as how to better tailor your approach when teaching fitness classes so that you can reach as many people as possible.

Explore more on how tailored group fitness can be incredibly advantageous with OriGym’s full exploration of the benefits of group exercise classes

By undertaking this additional qualification, you’ll be well placed to flourish in your career as a gym instructor, teaching group fitness classes that genuinely make a difference. 

But, your fitness class teacher training is only half the battle. Read on to discover the ideal traits anyone who’s teaching fitness classes needs to thrive in their industry.

Key Traits Of Fitness Class Teachers

While often a subjective question, there are undoubtedly certain characteristics that can not only mean you succeed as a fitness class instructor, but that set you apart from the crowd when searching for employment.

#1 - Passionate About Fitness

While you might already consider yourself to be incredibly passionate about fitness, it’s crucially important that this enthusiasm can translate across to your role as someone who’s teaching fitness classes that might well include the next generation of gym instructors or personal trainers.

Often, it can be difficult to bring across the passion that you personally have for exercise, and pass it on to those you’re teaching. Fitness classes provide the ideal way to do this - you’re imparting your expertise to people who genuinely want to be there, and are interested in what you have to say.

It’s a fact that fitness instructors often forget, but remembering it can mean you feel more confident when you teach fitness classes. 

It can also help to keep a regular routine yourself. Making sure you leave time to keep up with your own fitness routine can mean you preserve your passion for fitness, and are therefore more enthusiastic when delivering your exercise classes.

It’s also vital to ensure you include rest days in your schedule - check out OriGym’s complete guide to the importance of rest days, and how many to take, for further information.


Become a Class Instructor

Enquir about OriGym's courses to become a class instructor

#2 - Always Learning

Fitness is an ever-evolving field, and there’s always a new study produced, or article to read, that could forever change your perspective on something in the field you love. That’s why one of our key tips is to ensure you’re always up-to-date with the latest fitness news and developments.

Changes in the fitness industry can often mean new ways of teaching classes, or understanding the effects exercise has on the body, meaning they can have a profound effect on your style of teaching fitness classes.

As personal trainers ourselves, we’d strongly advise you keep up with the latest developments in fitness, and how you can strive to implement these into the workouts you teach, and your own workouts, too.

Whether that’s following one of the best fitness podcasts, reading dedicated fitness websites and blogs (such as the professionally written OriGym blog), or simply speaking to colleagues and friends, learning and growing as a fitness professional is vital to ensuring you’re teaching fitness classes with the most up-to-date information.

You might also choose to keep abreast of the latest scientific studies in fitness, too. This can often provide you with an insight that many instructors don’t have, and (particularly during interviews) give you that additional expertise that makes all the difference.

#3 - Excellent Time Keeping

As a gym instructor, you’ll often have to adhere to a strict schedule, especially when it comes to teaching group fitness classes. It’s imperative that, as a gym instructor, you have excellent time keeping skills.

Regardless of which fitness centre you end up working for, you’ll need to follow a rota or schedule, which tells you when you need to be in work, and when you’ll teach a fitness class.

Understanding where you need to be, and when, is a vital part of being part of a team, and is often even more important in a fitness environment, as you need to deal with different people’s schedules, and accommodate those who have minimal time to complete an exercise class. 

It’s also crucial you understand timings when you’re teaching group fitness classes - when you teach exercise classes, you’ll often have to keep track of how long your class has gone on for, and ensure that it both starts and ends at the right time. 

This not ensures that you’re where you need to be at the right time, but it also guarantees that the gym can continue to run as smoothly and effectively as possible, even during busier times.

It also means that there’s little congestion at peak hours, and that gym goers can better adhere to the right gym etiquette, providing space to those who are working out around them.

#4 - Friendly And Approachable

When considering how you’ll teach exercise classes in the way you want, one of the key things it’s important to consider is how you’ll interact with the members of your class, and more importantly how you’ll inspire them to return to your class next time.

If you’re teaching fitness classes on a regular basis, you’ll need to be an approachable, knowledgeable character, and someone that your students will feel comfortable discussing fitness with, not to mention learning from.

This is an ideal trait for multiple reasons - depending on your teaching schedule, you may well be the first face some of your students see in a morning, and having the right approach can provide the boost they need to get through your class with maximum effort.

It can also mean you come across as more knowledgeable, and therefore able to assist with any issues they might have. Teaching fitness classes means you’re at the forefront of interaction with gym goers, and will therefore be their first point of contact if they’re struggling or have a fitness-related question.

Having an approachable attitude also sets you up for one of the key career development opportunities available to you when you’re teaching fitness classes - personal training. Explore more in our comprehensive report on the traits that make a good personal trainer.

We’ll explore more on career options later in this article, but it’s crucial to remember that developing these skills now can make all the difference when you come to progress in the fitness industry.

#5 - Superb Communication

Our final key skill when it comes to teaching fitness classes you can be proud of may seem self-explanatory - communication is an integral part of delivering classes, and one that it wouldn’t be possible to teach without.

However, having particularly excellent communication skills, and being able to put across your points and your ideas in a concise way can make a huge difference when you teach fitness classes.

One of the key components of group fitness classes is the instructions you (as the teacher) give out. Without these, your class simply won’t function, and your students will lose focus, or leave the class altogether.

It’s absolutely essential that you understand what you’re teaching in your fitness classes, and particularly the rhythm that the class follows, as this can make or break the expertise you’re aiming to impart.

Once you’re comfortable with how your specific class flows, and each change in the rhythm and cadence of what you’re doing, it’s key to then develop the way in which you pass on that information to your students.

This is entirely down to you and your personal preference, but keeping a clear tone and short, easy-to-follow instructions is our recommendation on how best to deliver your crucial instructions.


Once you’ve learnt how to teach fitness classes, check out these similar articles:

The Benefits Of Teaching Fitness Classes

Now that we’ve established exactly what you need to teach fitness classes to the highest standard, let’s look at how it can benefit you, and what it’ll provide for you in terms of career development, and personal growth.

#1 - Gives You Vital Experience In A Gym

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of teaching fitness classes is that it provides you with an introduction to a fitness environment, and gives you experience in the key areas you’ll need to learn to thrive in the fitness industry.

Fitness is a notoriously difficult field to break into, and can often be incredibly competitive, so gaining experience through teaching group fitness classes can set you apart from the competition when you’re looking to progress, or undertake more duties in your current role.

Learn more about the duties and responsibilities of a fitness instructor with OriGym’s complete report.

By following the tips we’ve laid out above, you can truly excel when you teach fitness classes, and therefore continue to grow in both a professional and a personal capacity. You’ll also immediately make yourself more of an attractive prospect to your employer, as well as future employers.

It’s also important to note that a gym can be a challenging environment to work in at times - you’ll have to deal with a vast array of gym goers, and adapt strategies and teach fitness classes that can reach the largest number of people.

Learning these capabilities extends beyond helping you in your day-to-day role, though. They can often be key life skills that help with simple tasks, but that prepare you for a career as a leader in fitness, or in a personal trainer capacity.

#2 - Opportunity For Interaction

This may go without saying, but one of the most vital aspects of teaching fitness classes is the level of interaction you’ll get from simply delivering the class effectively and enthusiastically.

As we’ve already mentioned, when you teach exercise classes, you’ll usually be delivering to a group of people, up to a maximum of 30 (although this is only in larger gyms, or gyms that have the capacity to hold that many people safely). 

Each of these people needs to feel welcomed, and guided through each step of the workout you’ll be delivering. By making each individual feel welcomed, you’ll be able to interact with them, and understand their motivations and goals, which ultimately informs how you teach your fitness classes.

The benefits don’t stop there, either. Interacting with your class members can also build your reputation and rapport, which means that, should you decide to move forward with your career, you’ll have a potential client base already established.

We’ll explore your options for career development in our next section, but if you’re already keen to learn more about personal training, we’ve written a comprehensive guide to retaining your PT clients.

#3 - Learning From Industry Insiders

Learning from those with industry experience is absolutely invaluable, and when you decide to begin teaching fitness classes, you’ll be learning from fellow instructors and professionals who’ve worked in the same (or similar) capacity.

Of course, by completing your Level 2 fitness instructor course with OriGym, you’ll have instant access to our expert support and guidance, but it can often be helpful, especially if you’re working in a gym with a busy class schedule, to learn from those who’re in a similar role.

You’ll also be able to pick up tips and tricks that are specific to teaching group fitness classes at that particular gym.

That might be something as simple as learning where equipment is kept and how to retrieve it for your sessions, or more tailored, such as how best to motivate or help a particular student who may struggle with certain aspects of the class you’ll be teaching. 

By picking up on this more environment-specific advice, you’ll be able to flourish in the gym you’re working at, and develop a much better understanding of what you’re working with, and as well as tips on teaching your fitness classes to that specific audience.

Career Opportunities For Fitness Class Teachers

It’s natural that, as you progress through teaching fitness classes, and undertaking duties in your role as a fitness instructor, you’ll be curious about where you can progress within the fitness industry.

Fortunately, the exercise industry is vast, and there are many opportunities for where the career can take you. However, perhaps the most common one (and the one that arguably makes the most sense) is becoming a personal trainer.

This offers you the opportunity to work with clients on a one-to-one basis, designing customised workout regimes and bespoke diet plans that work for that individual’s goals and aspirations. You’ll also be able to fully organise your own schedule, setting up sessions and meetings at times that are convenient for you.

Explore more in our comprehensive exploration of the roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer.

Should you decide to train as a personal trainer, you’ll need to complete a Level 3 personal training qualification. This not only provides you with additional, relevant information about the industry you’re passionate about, it’ll also provide you with everything you need to know about creating tailored routines and diet plans.

Alternatively, if you’re completely set on establishing yourself in the fitness industry, you can combine both a Level 2 fitness instructor and a Level 3 personal trainer qualification by completing a personal training diploma offered by OriGym, saving you a significant amount of time and money, and giving you an additional level of qualification.

Or, if you want to continue working in a gym environment, teaching fitness classes and working with gym goers to achieve their fitness goals, you can complete additional professional development courses that augment your skills, and provide you with new ones that can revolutionise how you teach exercise classes.

Take, for instance, the strength and conditioning CPD. This will help you tailor your approach towards those who are at the peak of their fitness prowess, and provide tips on how they can progress. Or, a medicine ball CPD can provide new ideas on how to implement the diverse piece of equipment when teaching group fitness classes.


Become a Class Instructor

Enquir about OriGym's courses to become a class instructor

Before You Go!

Our guide aimed to provide everything you need to thrive when teaching fitness classes, alongside tips and tricks on how you can continue to improve and progress in the industry you’re passionate about.

Whether you were curious about how to start teaching fitness classes with a certification, or how to develop the strategies you use when you teach exercise classes, our report covers everything you need to know to flourish in an incredible and diverse field.

But, if you’re focused on a fitness career, then your next step should be clear after reading this guide.

OriGym’s internationally recognised personal training diploma offers all the resources you need to begin a productive and prosperous career in fitness, with expert guidance available 7 days a week, ultra flexible payment plans, unlimited career support, and a guaranteed interview when you graduate.

Check out our comprehensive FREE prospectus to learn more about everything we offer, and how it could be the perfect next step for you.

Written by Chris Allsobrook


Chris is a former English teacher, turned content editor. He holds a first-class honours degree in English Language and Creative Writing from the University of Central Lancashire, before going on to complete his teacher training, and obtain a PGCE at Liverpool John Moore’s.

Chris is a keen runner and is currently undertaking both his fitness instructing and personal training qualifications here at OriGym. 

Outside of fitness, you’ll often find him gaming, watching the football, cooking, or spending time with his family.

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