Now’s the time to become a fitness instructor. The fitness instructor market grew from a £600 million industry in 2015 to a £670 million industry in 2019, and at the time of writing, there are 9.9 million gym members in the UK.
However, if you’re looking to join this thriving industry, it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you’re reading this, you’re wondering what qualifications you need, why you need them, and where you can get qualified.
We answer your questions below. Here’s our simple guide to fitness instructor qualifications.
Table of contents
What qualifications do you need to be a fitness instructor?
If you want to work as a fitness instructor in a gym or leisure centre, you’ll need to have taken a Level 2 Gym Instructor course.
This course is the essential stepping stone to advance into personal training. It’s fully accredited by YMCA Awards and recognised by CIMSPA, which means you can use this qualification anywhere in the world.
When you take this qualification, you’ll be taught online and in-person by tutors with at least two years’ experience in the fitness industry.
You’ll learn the essential knowledge and skills required to instruct and evaluate clients in a gym or health club environment. You’ll also learn how to develop safe, bespoke programmes to suit their needs.
Gyms often enforce a minimum qualification requirement to work there as a fitness instructor. So, your job prospects may be limited if you don’t have this qualification. On top of this, your clients could ask what qualifications you have, and if you don’t have any, they may look elsewhere.
So, getting the Level 2 Gym Instructor course is essential to kickstarting your career as a fitness instructor.
There are no entry requirements for this qualification, but you need to be at least 16 years old to enrol on the course. It’s also recommended that you regularly attend the gym – which, hopefully, is a given!
Are there any other qualifications you need to be a fitness instructor?
Although there aren’t any other qualifications you’re legally required to hold as a fitness instructor, there are loads of qualifications that’ll give you a big advantage.
These qualifications must be recognised by a UK governing body – this is a key condition of our fitness instructor insurance. Ideally, you want a qualification that’s been regulated by Ofqual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations), the sister organisation of Ofsted.
Ofqual regulates the award of NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) qualifications in England. It also sets the criteria that all colleges and training providers need to adhere to in order to meet the requirements of a regulated qualification.
In summary – for a fitness education programme to be classed as a ‘qualification’, it needs to be regulated by Ofqual.
But how do you know if a course is regulated by Ofqual? It’s pretty easy. You just need to look for the logos of one of these companies on the training provider’s website:
These awarding bodies (otherwise known as governing bodies) act as a middleman between Ofqual and your college or training provider.
When you receive your certificate, it’ll bear the logo of both the awarding body and Ofqual. Think of it as a professional stamp of approval – it’s a qualification you want to have.
Do fitness instructors need a first aid qualification?
It’s not mandatory for fitness instructors to be first aid-qualified in order to work in a gym or leisure centre. However, gyms and fitness clubs are required, by law, to always have at least one first aid qualified professional on-site.
So, if that professional happens to be you, you’ve got a much better chance of landing a job at a gym or leisure centre than if you didn’t have this qualification.
Being first aid-qualified will also reassure any potential clients that you’re a diligent, reliable fitness professional who’s serious about their wellbeing.
We wrote a handy guide on first aid for fitness instructors that you can read here.
How can you advance your career as a fitness instructor?
As we said above, a Level 2 Gym Instructor Course is the minimum qualification required to work as a fitness instructor in a gym or leisure centre. This means you’ll be able to create and instruct fitness classes and routines either on a freelance basis or as an employee.
However, if you want to take your training further and expand your skillset as a fitness instructor, the next step is to get more advanced fitness qualifications. Here are some examples of advanced training courses you could enrol in – all of which are available from Ofqual-regulated awarding bodies:
- Level 3 Diploma in Gym Instructing and Personal Training
- Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training
- Level 4 Elite Personal Trainer Course
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. If you’re interested in qualifying as a personal trainer eventually, here’s how.
You now know which qualifications are available to you as a fitness instructor. You should also have a clear idea of the opportunities that await you after qualifying if you’re a new instructor. Good luck!
Specialist fitness instructor insurance from Insure4Sport
Before you go, there’s one last important point to mention. If you’re a qualified fitness instructor, you need fitness instructor insurance – without it, you’re unlikely to be allowed to work in a gym or leisure centre. These facilities will often ask you to provide proof of insurance, so having it is vital if you want to get clients and make money.
Our fitness instructor insurance includes up to £10 million of Public Liability, which protects your legal fees if one of your clients claims against you for an injury they suffer during one of your sessions. You can also cover your equipment against loss, theft, and damage, and take out personal accident cover in case you get injured while training.