Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of a Fitness Instructor.

Find out what’s involved in the role from in this excerpt from the career profile on the Indigo Careers module.

So what is a Fitness Instructor?

Fitness instructors/personal trainers teach people how to exercise in a safe and effective manner, while also helping them work towards personal fitness targets.

You could provide one-on-one service to your clients, direct and choreograph group fitness activities and classes, or undertake a mixture of the two. You could work in a health club, community gym, leisure centre or private gym.

Other duties may include writing individual training programmes for clients, showing them exercise techniques and how to use equipment, and offering advice on nutrition and other lifestyle-related issues.


Fitness instructors work longer than average hours – between 38 and 40 hours per week – and these often include early mornings, evenings and weekends to suit the needs of their clients. 

Most instructors work on a part-time basis.


Most instructors are affiliated to one or a number of gyms in their local area.

Type of work

You will need to be physically fit in order to promote a good image to existing and potential clients.


Things to consider


You will play an active role in enhancing many people’s lives by introducing them to exercise and ensuring they continue with it.

Make a difference

You will see tangible results of your efforts and guidance as people become fitter during the course of your work with them. 

Unsocial hours or on call

You may have to work unsocial hours. 

Strong demand

As society has become increasingly aware of health and fitness issues, the demand for fitness instructors has grown.

Very competitive

In certain areas and in popular high street gyms, competition for jobs can be tough. 

Most people have a certificate of further education and you will need to pass certain tests/exams

No formal academic qualifications are required for this career, but an industry-recognised qualification approved by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) can be beneficial. This can be completed prior to becoming an instructor or as part of a work-based training scheme. You need to be aged 16 or over to be an assistant instructor and at least 18 to become a full instructor.

A commonly studied qualification is the YMCA Awards Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness. During this course, you can choose to specialise in gym-based exercise, exercise to music, water-based exercise or physical activity for children. A full list of all REPs-approved courses is available on their website. An alternative route is to take the Instructing Exercise and Fitness Apprenticeship, which is available at both Intermediate and Advanced Level.

Before you can work as an instructor, you will also need to hold public liability insurance, a first aid certificate and, if you intend to work with children or vulnerable adults, undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Applicants will, of course, need to be physically fit.

Top Tip

Further courses are available, in yoga or zumba for example, which may help further your career.


Salary progression

Fitness instructors usually have a starting salary of around £14,000. With experience, earnings can increase up to £22,000 and freelance instructors may charge an hourly rate of £10–£30. Personal trainers in full-time employment can receive a salary ranging from £14,000 up to £25,000.

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