There’s never been a better time to become a fitness instructor. The fitness instructor market has grown from a £600 million industry in 2015 to a £670 million industry in 2019. However, if you’re looking to join this thriving industry, it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to fitness instructor qualifications.
Do you need qualifications to be a fitness instructor?
Technically speaking, there are no legal requirements to be a fitness instructor. However, there are several reasons fitness instructor qualifications are important. These include:
- Future proofing – the fitness industry is famously unregulated, but change could be on the horizon. You don’t want to lose clients or damage your reputation after regulation does come in.
- Gyms often enforce a minimum qualification requirement in order to work for them as a fitness instructor. Therefore, you may limit your job prospects if you don’t meet this requirement.
- Discerning clients could ask what your fitness instructor qualifications are. If you don’t have any, they may look elsewhere.
The more you can justify your expertise, the healthier your business or job prospects will be.
What fitness instructor qualifications are there?
To become a qualified fitness instructor and work in a gym or sports centre, you need one of the following qualifications:
- Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing
- Level 2 Diploma in Fitness and Exercise Instruction
- Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness and Exercise Instruction
Each of these qualifications will train you to a professionally competent standard. In addition, they will teach you the ins and outs of planning exercise programmes at a gym or sports centre.
You’ll also need a first aid certificate on top of any fitness instructor qualification. We wrote a handy guide on first aid for fitness instructors, which you can find here.
How do you get qualified as a fitness instructor?
There are a number of ways to get fitness instructor qualifications. These include:
- College courses – you’ll generally need 2 or more GCSE grades D or above for a Level 2 course.
- Apprenticeships – gyms and leisure centres may offer fitness instructor apprenticeships in order to upskill future potential employees.
- Through your job – if you work at a leisure centre, it may be possible for your employer to enrol you on a fitness instructor course.
- Through private training companies – companies like Health and Fitness Education specialise in providing fitness instructor and personal trainer qualifications. Furthermore, you can study for these outside of work or college.
How do you advance your fitness instructing career?
A Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing is the minimum qualification required to work as a fitness instructor in a gym or sports centre. This means you’ll be able to create and instruct fitness classes and routines either on a freelance basis, or as an employee.
Working at this level will give you a good grounding for a career in the fitness industry. It will also provide valuable experience if you ever want to take your training further. If you do, the next step is to get more advanced fitness qualifications, such as:
- Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training
- Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training
If you enrol at a college to take a Level 3 course, you’ll likely need 4 or 5 GCSEs graded C or above, plus a Level 2 qualification unless it’s a part of the course as well. If you’re interested in qualifying as a personal trainer eventually, here’s how.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to join the Register of Exercise Professionals and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. This will advance your career prospects and reassure your clients that your practice meets the organisations’ quality and safety criteria.
After all, you want to become the best possible fitness instructor you can be if you’re serious about staying in the industry long term.
What career paths can you take as a fitness instructor?
Many of our policyholders specialise in multiple fitness disciplines to diversify their clientele. According to our survey, nearly half of all fitness professionals (45%) would consider specialising in a particular area in future, while 44% already do.
As such, being a specialist will solidify your career and help you stand out in the fitness industry. If you can emerge as an authority on a specific area of fitness, you’re consequently more likely to get a regular stream of work.
Some examples of specialisations include:
- Pre and postnatal fitness
- Working with the elderly, the disabled or children
- Specialist sport fitness
For information on how to get qualified in these areas, check out Health and Fitness Education’s courses.
A Level 2 qualification in fitness instruction opens the first of many doors within the fitness industry. By gaining additional qualifications, experience and business acumen, you increase your chances of progressing to an advanced position.
You might look back and see that qualifying as a fitness instructor was your first step towards becoming a:
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Gym manager
- Fitness consultant
- Injury rehabilitation trainer
Hopefully you now have a clear idea of the qualifications available to you as an aspiring fitness instructor, as well as the opportunities that await you after qualifying.