Fitness Instructor

There are health and fitness clubs in abundance and health advice is a major industry.

Local authorities provide a range of leisure and recreational services for the public to enjoy - tourist information offices, museums, art galleries and sports and leisure centres. Fitness instructors can be found in leisure centres where they are trained to help people have healthier lifestyles. Job titles can vary from Health and Fitness Instructor to Health and Fitness Consultants.

Work Environment
Work takes place mainly in the gym or swimming pool where instructors help people of all ages and abilities to pursue their chosen activity and achieve realistic goals. It can be noisy and busy and constant vigilance is required. Swimmers and gym users have to be prevented from getting into difficulty.

Daily Activities
Instructors may supervise sessions involving anything from exercise to music to relaxation and stress management. Some instructors specialise in only one or two activities. As clients pound away at the treadmill, cycling like mad, they can rest assured that they are in safe hands. Properly trained fitness instructors have basic medical knowledge and know how to deal with clients who are not in the best physical condition - including the dangers of being overweight. With the appropriate education and training, instructors may be asked to:

  • take initial appointments and assessments
  • take induction sessions for new clients
  • devise individual exercise programmes
  • take mid and end of session checks
  • ensure equipment is in safe working order
  • perform fitness assessments
  • offer dietary advice 
  • supervise the gymnasium
  • maintain a centre diary/file
  • distribute and collect talkback sheets and summarise them
  • offer advice on possible adaptations to a clients' training programmes to provide variety and ensure they stay with the course
  • provide incentives/challenges to keep users motivated
  • monitor drop outs and those who complete a course, and submit the results to the Community Fitness Officer/Leisure Centre Manager.

Skills & Interests
To do this job well you would need to have:

  • energy
  • a healthy constitution
  • a mature, responsible, inspiring and empathic attitude
  • excellent communication skills
  • some sporting ability.

It is also desirable to have knowledge of people who are 'out of condition"; twelve months practical experience of working with a variety of atypical populations; basic medical knowledge (arthritis, coronary heart disease, diabetes) and experience of fitness testing.

Entry Requirements
It is essential to have a fitness-related qualification e.g. ISRM/relevant coaching qualification .

It would also be helpful to have an awareness of, and be working towards, membership of the Fitness Industry Association (FIA). This is a trade organisation representing operators of health and fitness clubs. Members of the FIA must adhere to a code of practice which promotes standards, quality and customer welfare. The association has taken over the register of exercise and health professionals which maintains details of 'approved' instructors. It is also desirable to have

  • a personal trainer award
  • first aid qualification
  • Physical Education Association (PEA) certificate or higher
  • a recognised qualification in exercise counselling and fitness assessments.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
The health and fitness industry is a growth area and there are many opportunities for work in different specialisms by getting more qualifications. There are also administrative positions such as Leisure Manager and Sports Facility Manager.
Many major hotels and private leisure complexes employ fitness instructors and the pay is sometimes better than in local government but the work is often less varied.

Further Information & Services
Recreation Management magazine
Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity
Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management
Sports Wales
Fitness Industry Association
Swimming Teachers' Association
Lifetime Health & Fitness

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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