How to become a fitness instructor

If you love to keep fit and you think your enthusiasm is contagious, then you could make the perfect fitness instructor. Fitness instructors help people to keep fit and healthy by working with them to motivate them into action. You tailor a fitness plan based on your knowledge of different fitness techniques. Then, you teach them how to use gym equipment, and give them healthy eating tips. Sometimes you could base yourself in a gym or sports centre. Or you might prefer to operate independently. You hold group classes, and one on one training when people require the extra input from you. While fitness instructors may not be held up to be the ones changing the world your job is nevertheless very important. People come to you for help to improve their lives and lifestyle, and with your encouragement, you help them to achieve their goals

Do you love to exercise? Can you spread your enthusiasm and passion for fitness to other people? Would you like to help people to live healthier and more fulfilling lives? Yes? Then keep reading to find out what you need to do to get your dream job.  

Step one: Enrol on a Course

Taking a course to learn the knowledge you will need is very important. There are lots of different fitness instructor courses to choose from. You might want to choose a general course to give you the best broad foundation of knowledge. Or if you already have a specialisation in mind you can choose a course tailored to the specialisation you want to pursue. 

Step two: Register for Industry Accreditation

Once you have your qualifications (well done you), you can register for industry accreditation. This is important to do because it will give employers or clients the confidence you have the knowledge you need to advise them. You can register with Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia.

Step three: Apply for your first job

After registering for industry accreditation it is time to look for your first job. You can look for opportunities in gyms, sports centres or consider starting your own business. If you are newly qualified it is better to gain experience before starting out alone. Remember to tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your training, personal strengths and any relevant experience you have.

Step four: Gain experience

You have your first job! Well done! Now, it is time to build up your experience. Working with your clients will help you to hone your skills and to get a better feel for what really helps to motivate them. After building on your experience and training you can begin to consider the direction you might like to take in the future.

Step five: Consider a specialisation

The fitness industry is booming and there are many possible specialisations you can consider. Once you have a direction in mind you may want to take a course to hone your skills. Different specialisations will appeal to different people with different passions. Which is the one for you?

Personal Trainer

The personal trainer is similar to a fitness instructor except your focus is always working with individuals. You work with clients one on one, or at most in very small focused groups. Again, you will be motivating, teaching and offering guidance to help your clients improve their lifestyles and health.

Aqua Fitness Instructor

If your passion for fitness lies in the water, then you may make the perfect aqua fitness instructor. You work in special centres and teach fitness classes with your clients working out in the water. The water provides a more gentle environment for the body to work out, reducing strain on the joints. You will need extra safety training so you can assist a client if they get into difficulty in the water. Sometimes, you will work with specialised groups of people who find it impossible or difficult to work out at the gym. For example, people with physical disabilities, injuries or the elderly.

Group Exercise Instructor

If you get a buzz from leading a group of people in an exercise class then becoming a group exercise instructor will be perfect for you. You should be passionate and high energy to encourage and motivate people to get stuck in and to keep coming back. Working with a wide range of people from different backgrounds and age ranges you need to be flexible and adapt your teaching style. You may choose to focus on one form of exercise like cardio, stretching, boxing, or aerobics. Or you may prefer to take a wide range of different classes to keep your days varied.

Fitness Instructor Responsibilities

In your role as a fitness instructor, you promote an active healthy lifestyle to your clients. You encourage and motivate them to improve their fitness and teach them any skills they need to achieve their goals. Working in different environments you may lead a class, or spend time personally training individuals. You will also give your clients advice on how to eat better. For instance, teaching them good techniques, and writing up fitness plans for them. Then, you then keep track of how they are doing and make adjustments to the plan when needed. Using your own example of fitness, and your enthusiasm, you aim to motivate them into action. The result they can live a better healthier life.


  • Making assessments of your client’s fitness level
  • Holding group fitness classes
  • Teaching clients how to use gym equipment correctly
  • Writing tailored fitness plans for your clients
  • Suggesting to your client’s ways to eat healthier

Skills for Success

As a fitness instructor, you will need to have a passion for fitness and a strong desire to help people. Your task is to motivate people into action, so your enthusiasm should be contagious. You work with people so it is important you are good at communication, and you have the ability to relate to others from different walks of life. In addition, you need to be good at giving clear instructions, and to listen to your client’s thoughts and feedback. On the other hand, you need to be fit and living an active lifestyle. Then you can lead effectively with your own fitness acting as an example and inspiration to your clients. You need to have a wealth of knowledge about exercise, and the skills to select the appropriate exercises for your client’s needs.

Skills and attributes

  • Off the scale in enthusiasm – able to motivate others
  • Goal orientated
  • Physically fit active person
  • Enjoy working with people
  • Knowledgeable about healthy living and different fitness techniques
  • Passionate about helping others

How much do Fitness Instructors earn in Australia?

In Australia, Fitness Instructors earn a median wage of $43,371 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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