Everything About A Fitness Instructor Career

You think about becoming a fitness instructor but are not entirely sure whether this is the right job for you or not yet?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about a fitness instructor career in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much you can make as a fitness instructor, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, working hours, work-life balance, educational requirements, future outlook and much more.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea regarding whether you still want to work in this field or if you rather want to strive for a different career instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does a Fitness Instructor do?

Fitness instructors teach clients how to exercise in the most efficient manner so that they can become fitter and healthier in the long run.

Apart from exercising itself, fitness instructors often also give tips on nutrition and how to live a healthier life in general.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Fitness Instructor

  • Making sure that clients work out properly
  • Motivating clients to work hard
  • Making sure that clients don’t ruin their bodies
  • Showing clients how to make fitness training as efficient as possible
  • Giving clients tips and tricks on nutrition
  • Using latest research insights to make training even more efficient
  • Showing clients how to use exercise equipment
  • Preparing training videos so that clients can work out remotely
  • Ensuring safety inside gyms
  • Meeting hygienic requirements
  • Developing personal workout plans

What a Typical Day of a Fitness Instructor looks like?

Fitness instructors often start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m.

After getting to work, they make sure that safety and hygienic requirements are met so that clients can work out in a safe manner.

During the rest of the day, you will help clients improve their workouts and also show them how they can use exercise equipment in the best possible manner.

You will also give your clients tips and tricks on how to make their workouts even more efficient at home.

After working for many hours, you will usually finish your workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Fitness Instructor Salary 2021

Fitness Instructor salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $69,000> $34.42
Top 25 %$54,000 – $62,000$26.93 – $30.88
Bottom 25 %$35,000 – $39,000$17.38 – $19.43
Bottom 10 %$29,000 – $32,000$14.45 – $15.94
Range$29,000 – $74,000$14.45 – $36.89
Average (Mean)$48,000$23.91
Median$47,000$21.97

Fitness Instructor salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$29,000 – $33,000$14.45 – $16.43
Junior$31,000 – $39,000$15.39 – $19.42
Professional$37,000 – $48,000$18.47 – $23.91
Senior Professional$46,000 – $57,000$22.94 – $28.41
Expert$55,000 – $68,000$27.45 – $33.87
Top Expert$66,000 – $74,000$32.88 – $36.94

Fitness Instructor salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$46,200$23.07
Alaska$48,500$24.23
Arizona$49,300$24.56
Arkansas$45,900$22.94
California$57,800$28.88
Colorado$47,100$23.52
Connecticut$49,500$24.73
Delaware$50,300$25.13
District of Columbia$51,700$25.81
Florida$49,800$24.89
Georgia$47,400$23.68
Guam$48,600$24.27
Hawaii$53,900$26.94
Idaho$46,500$23.22
Illinois$47,200$23.56
Indiana$51,300$25.57
Iowa$48,800$24.36
Kansas$46,200$23.07
Kentucky$44,300$22.11
Louisiana$49,100$24.53
Maine$45,900$22.92
Maryland$50,600$25.27
Massachusetts$51,800$25.87
Michigan$47,200$23.54
Minnesota$49,300$24.58
Mississippi$46,100$23.03
Missouri$45,800$22.89
Montana$46,800$23.37
Nebraska$47,100$23.54
Nevada$48,500$24.23
New Hampshire$49,800$24.88
New Jersey$50,700$25.32
New Mexico$46,200$23.06
New York$59,100$29.53
North Carolina$46,700$23.34
North Dakota$47,300$23.61
Ohio$48,100$24.02
Oklahoma$49,600$24.78
Oregon$48,500$24.21
Pennsylvania$52,100$26.04
Rhode Island$49,300$24.63
South Carolina$47,800$23.87
South Dakota$46,100$23.04
Tennessee$48,500$24.22
Texas$47,800$23.89
Utah$49,100$24.53
Vermont$46,600$23.28
Virginia$45,800$22.88
Washington$49,200$24.57
West Virginia$47,100$23.52
Wisconsin$51,200$25.53
Wyoming$46,300$23.14

Job Security for Fitness Instructors

Fitness instructors have pretty poor job security since they are easily replaceable and don’t need high levels of qualification to work in this job.

Hence, you constantly have to worry about losing your job and not finding another job in such a case for a quite long run.

Future Job Prospects of Fitness Instructors

Also future job prospects of fitness instructors are rather poor.

Due to machine learning and artificial intelligence, many jobs in this industry will be done by machines in the near future and many fitness instructors will become obsolete.

Working Hours of Fitness Instructors

Most fitness instructors start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Thus, working as a fitness instructor is a classical 9 to 5 job and you will have more than enough leisure to spend with your family and friends.

Job Satisfaction of Fitness Instructors

Many fitness instructors are not happy with what they are doing for a living since they don’t make lots of money while they still have pretty poor job security at the same time.

Consequently, many fitness instructors think about quitting their jobs and working in a different field.

Promotion Opportunities of Fitness Instructors

There are not many promotion options for fitness instructors.

While you could work as a personal trainer after a while when you have built a strong reputation in this field, most fitness instructors will still work in the same position for many years without any prospects of getting promoted anytime soon.

Career Levels of Fitness Instructors

  • Fitness instructor intern
  • Junior fitness instructor
  • Senior fitness instructor
  • Manager of a gym
  • Manager of a fitness company
  • Owner of a gym
  • Owner of a fitness business

Fields and Types of Fitness Instructors

  • Personal trainers
  • Fitness instructors working in the gym
  • Fitness instructors focused on short-term gains
  • Fitness instructors specialized in long-term benefits
  • Fitness instructors specialized in building up muscles
  • Group fitness instructors
  • Fitness instructor specialized in digital courses
  • Fitness instructor who meets clients at home
  • Specialty instructor

Educational Requirements for Fitness Instructors

You don’t have to get fancy education for becoming a fitness instructor.

Instead, you can start your career in this field right after getting your high school diploma and don’t have to spend lots of time and money on college education.

How to become a Fitness Instructor

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a fitness instructor
  2. Apply for an internship at a local gym
  3. Make a good impression during your internship
  4. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  5. Finish high school with decent grades
  6. Apply for jobs as a fitness instructor
  7. Master the job interview
  8. Sign your working contract
  9. Work hard and save money
  10. Start your own gym

Character Traits you need as a Fitness Instructor

  • You should have a passion for fitness
  • Passion for healthy nutrition helps as well
  • You should be an outgoing person who loves to work with new people
  • Patience for difficult clients
  • Patience for people who only make slow progress
  • Empathy for clients so that they come back to your gym
  • Empathy for employees helps you lead a team
  • You should have a hands-on mentality
  • You should not be afraid to try new things
  • You should be a responsible person

Hard Skills for Fitness Instructors

  • Good knowledge of how to exercise in the right manner
  • Decent knowledge of the human body
  • You should be a good teacher
  • Strong business skills help you operate a gym in a profitable manner
  • Digital skills help as well to promote your work
  • You should know how to build a strong brand
  • Knowledge of safety standards in this industry
  • Knowledge of how to meet hygienic requirements
  • Expertise in specific forms of training

Soft Skills for Fitness Instructors

  • Empathy for clients who try to blame you for their shortcomings
  • You should be a good motivator
  • You should have an encouraging attitude
  • Ability to help your clients push through difficult times
  • You should be a good communicator
  • You need to be passionate about fitness and nutrition
  • Patience helps in growing your business slowly but steadily
  • You should know how the human mind works
  • Talent for acquiring new customers and bonding existing ones

Exit Options for Fitness Instructors

There are not many exit options for fitness instructors apart from working as a health consultant or personal trainer.

Once you start working in this field, you will likely stay there for many years or even decades since you will barely find anyone outside this industry who would be willing to employ you due to your lack of skills in other fields.

Fitness Instructor – Similar Careers

  • Personal trainer
  • Health consultant
  • Fitness model
  • Workout developer
  • Fitness tech engineer
  • Physical therapist
  • Life coach
  • Fitness YouTuber
  • Fitness Blogger

Fitness Instructor Career FAQs

Is working as a fitness instructor physically demanding?

Working as a fitness instructor can be physically demanding since you have to show your clients how to use exercise equipment and if you do that multiple times per day, this can really stress your body and you should therefore really like to work in a hands-on environment before you decide on becoming a fitness trainer.

Is working as a fitness instructor mentally demanding?

Being a fitness trainer is not heavily mentally demanding.

Once you know how to work out yourself, you will have an easy time consulting your clients and will not have to use your brain that much anymore.

Is it dangerous to work as a fitness instructor?

Working as a fitness instructor is not dangerous.

You will just work in a pretty secure space and apart from making sure that fitness equipment is maintained properly, you will not have to worry much about getting injured at work.

How long do fitness instructors stay in their jobs?

Fitness instructors often stay in their jobs for quite a while since it is just pretty hard for them to find another job and they will therefore often work in this field simply due to a lack of alternatives.

Is it easy for fitness instructors to find a new job?

Since fitness instructors are easily replaceable and many people start working out from home instead of going to the gym, fitness trainers have a pretty hard time finding a new job once they get fired and this trend will likely continue in the future.

Is it hard to switch from being a fitness instructor to another field of work?

Fitness instructors also have a pretty hard time switching from their fitness trainer career to a different field of work since they just often lack the qualifications necessary for making this step and don’t find a company in a different industry that would be willing to employ them.

Do fitness instructors have a high social status?

Fitness instructors have a pretty low social status.

Hence, many people will not even consider what you are doing for a living a real job and may even make fun of you from time to time and you should be willing to deal with these snarky comments before becoming a fitness instructor.

Can you help out your family and friends as a fitness instructor?

You can help out your loved ones as a fitness instructor in the sense that you can show them how to exercise properly.

However, you will still not be able to help your family and friends with many other things around the home as craftsmen are often able to do since they are much better at fixing things and you will therefore only be able to help out your favorite people in a rather limited way.

Can fitness instructors work remotely?

Fitness instructors are not able to work remotely most of the time since they have to be present at the gym in person and show people how to exercise in real-time.

Consequently, you will have to commute to work and back while other people who work in office jobs often enjoy the privilege of working from home and will be much more flexible than you.

Is it easy to find a partner as a fitness instructor?

While fitness instructors get in touch with many new people every day and have a good chance for many short-term relationships, they often have a hard time when it comes to finding someone for a long-term relationship since they just don’t make good money and are not good providers at all.

Do fitness instructors have to work on weekends?

Fitness instructors don’t have to work on weekends most of the time.

However, there may still be occasions when you have to work on Saturdays and if you are not willing to do this, working in a classical 9 to 5 job from Monday to Friday might be better for you.

Do fitness instructors have to work on holidays?

Fitness instructors don’t have to work on holidays.

Instead, you can use those times of the year to spend with your favorite people or on the things you like even more than working.

Do fitness instructors have to work at nighttime?

Fitness instructors don’t have to work at nighttime, at least if you have the day shift since you will often come home pretty early between 4 and 6 p.m.

However, if you have the afternoon or evening shift, you may have to work much longer and working at nighttime may become an unpleasant reality.

Do you have to travel as a fitness instructor?

There is no need to travel for fitness instructors. You will just commute to the gym you work at and you will not have to do any business trips.

Consequently, while many other people who have to do those business trips on a regular basis will be away from home quite often, you will be able to spend your time with your family instead.

Are fitness instructor pensions good?

Due to the rather low salaries in the fitness industry, you will also not have a good pension as a fitness instructor.

Moreover, you will also have a hard time saving enough money for retirement and may therefore really struggle once you get older and have to quit your active career.

Are fitness instructor salaries going up?

Fitness instructor salaries have not been going up significantly over the past years since there are many people who want to work in this field but the demand for fitness instructors is decreasing since part of the work will be done by machines in the near future and wages may even drop in the long run in this industry.

Can you have a positive effect on society as a fitness instructor?

You can have a positive effect on society as a fitness instructor since you can show people how to become fitter and how to live a healthier life in general.

In turn, those people will have more energy to make the world a better place.

How long does it take to become a fitness instructor?

It will not take you long to become a fitness instructor.

Quite often, you don’t need to meet any formal requirements to start your career in this field and finishing high school will often be enough.

Is it difficult to become a fitness instructor?

Becoming a fitness instructor is not difficult at all.

All you need to do is to apply for jobs after you have finished high school and if you have connections, it will be pretty easy for you to get a job in this field.

Even if you don’t, you will likely still find opportunities to work in this field if you try hard enough and also get some expertise that provides value to gym owners.

Do you need to be smart to work as a fitness instructor?

You don’t have to be smart for working as a fitness instructor.

What’s much more important is that you have good people skills and that you are a good motivator so that you can get your clients to the highest fitness levels and they don’t give up along the way.

Do fitness instructors have a good work-life balance?

Fitness instructors have pretty decent work-life balance since they work in a regular 9 to 5 job and often also have free weekends most of the time.

Consequently, you will have more than enough leisure to spend with your favorite people or on your hobbies.

Do fitness instructors have to work many extra hours?

Most fitness instructors don’t have to work much overtime.

Instead, you will have your fixed shift and once your shift is over, you will be able to quit work and meet up with your favorite people after work.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a fitness instructor?

The best thing you can do to maximize your chances of becoming a fitness instructor is to get lots of knowledge about fitness and nutrition and how to live a healthier life in general since this is what you have to teach your clients at work and the more you already know, the faster you can provide value to gym owners and the more eager they will be to employ you.

Can fitness instructors work part-time?

You can also work part-time as a fitness instructor.

However, most fitness instructors still work full-time since they just need the money and can’t survive from a part-time salary.

Do fitness instructors work indoors or outdoors?

Fitness instructors work indoors in the gym most of the time.

However, over the recent past, there is an increasing number of fitness instructors who offer courses outdoors and if this trend continues, you may have a healthy mix of indoor and outdoor exercise during your workday.

What does the workplace of a fitness instructor look like?

You will work in a gym for most of your workday and will be surrounded by exercise equipment and many people.

Hence, you should not be afraid to get in touch with new faces on a regular basis if you want to succeed as a fitness instructor in the long run.

Do you have to look good for working as a fitness instructor?

While your looks don’t matter that much, looking good can still help you succeed as a fitness instructor since you might be more likely to get booked for private fitness sessions by your clients and may therefore be able to make more money.

Is a fitness instructor career beneficial for your private life?

Working as a fitness instructor may be beneficial for your private life since you will learn how to stay in shape.

However, you will still have a hard time maintaining a long-term relationship since you will have a pretty insecure job and will also not make much money which makes you a pretty poor provider and your partner may therefore start to cheat on you sooner or later to find a better deal.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a fitness instructor?

You don’t need a college degree for working as a fitness trainer.

Quite often, it will be enough to just finish high school and you are good to go while many other people have to go to college and amass lots of student loan debt.

Do you need to be certified to work as a fitness instructor?

While you can get many certificates in the fitness industry, you will not urgently need one of those to get employed as a fitness instructor.

However, having those qualifications may still help you to find a job quicker.

How much does it cost to become a fitness instructor?

You can become a fitness instructor at virtually no cost since the gym you are working for will train you quite often and will show you everything you need to know to consult and train your clients in the best possible manner.

Is being a fitness instructor a good career?

Working as a fitness trainer is not considered a good career by most people since you will just not be able to make good money and your overall level of job security will also be rather low.

Is it easy to start your own business as a fitness instructor?

It is pretty easy to start your own business as a fitness instructor since you don’t necessarily have to open a gym but you can also start an online business where you show people tips and tricks on how to exercise in the best possible manner and you can start those online businesses without having to spend lots of money.

Can fitness instructors teach themselves?

Fitness trainers can teach themselves quite a lot.

However, you may still do many things wrong and may not learn how to exercise properly and may therefore also consult your clients in an unhealthy manner.

Consequently, you should rely on experienced colleagues to show you everything you need to know about fitness to avoid common mistakes in this regard.

Do fitness instructors make good money?

Fitness instructors don’t make good money at all.

In fact, your salary may not even be enough to cover basic expenses, especially if you live in expensive regions where rents and overall living costs are quite high.

Is it ever too late to become a fitness instructor?

While it is never too late to become a fitness instructor, gyms still prefer to employ young people since they are at lower risk of getting sick and may also stay in the business for a longer period of time.

Consequently, employment chances for older people may be rather low in this field.

Do fitness instructors have to quit their careers early?

Some fitness instructors also have to quit their careers early since working as a fitness trainer involves heavy physical work on a regular basis and the older you get, the more likely it will become that you are no longer able to do this kind of exhausting physical work.

What is the most challenging thing about working as a fitness instructor?

The most challenging thing about being a fitness consultant is that you always have to adjust to many new clients and that you will never know how they react to critique.

Can you provide for your family by working as a fitness instructor?

Providing for your family is pretty hard as a fitness instructor.

Quite often, you will even barely make enough money to cover your own bills and if you want to have children, your partner may have to work as well to finance all the additional expenses that come along with it.

Will fitness instructors suffer from old-age poverty?

Many fitness instructors will also suffer from old-age poverty since their pensions will be rather low and they will also not be able to save and invest enough money during their active careers.

Can fitness instructors retire early?

Fitness instructors are not able to retire early since they simply don’t make enough money and therefore at least have to work until they reach official retirement age.

Quite often, fitness instructors even have to work longer since their pension will not be enough to cover their bills once they retire.

Do fitness instructors get a fixed or variable salary?

Fitness instructors get a fixed salary most of the time.

However, if you climb the ladder and get into a management position, you may also have a variable component in your salary and the harder you work and the better the results, the more you will make from your fitness instructor career.

Can you get rich as a fitness instructor?

Getting rich from a fitness instructor job is almost impossible.

If you really want to get wealthy or even rich, you would have to start your own fitness company instead of working as a regular employee.

Do fitness instructors need a second job?

Many fitness instructors need a second job to pay their bills since they just don’t make enough money from their main job to pay their bills, especially if they live in expensive regions where rents are quite high.

Do you get continuous training as a fitness instructor?

You will not get continuous training as a fitness instructor.

Once you have learned all the basics, it is on you to really get better at what you are doing.

Do you get sick pay as a fitness instructor?

Most fitness instructors don’t get sick pay.

In turn, you will not get paid in case you are sick and you should therefore have an emergency fund so that you can still pay your bills in such situations.

Do fitness instructors have a high level of responsibility?

Fitness instructors have a high level of responsibility for their clients since in case they consult them wrong, their clients may ruin their bodies and may suffer from serious physical health issues in the long run.

Can fitness instructors work abroad?

Fitness instructors are also able to work abroad since fitness is an important topic all over the world.

However, you should still inform yourself about educational requirements in foreign countries and also on how much you can make as a fitness trainer in the respective country to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

Is it stressful to work as a fitness instructor?

Being a fitness instructor is not that stressful.

After a few months, you will do this job with so much routine that you get barely stressed at all since you will know how to do all of the exercises by heart and will be able to consult your clients almost blindly.

Is it boring to work as a fitness instructor?

Working as a fitness instructor may become boring in the long run since you will do the same things over and over again and if you are not really passionate about fitness in general, you may just get bored with what you are doing and may quit your job sooner or later.

Is being a fitness instructor hard?

While working as a fitness coach is not hard on a mental level, it can still be physically demanding since you have to show your clients how to work out many times per day and if you don’t want to work in a physical manner, you should just not become a fitness trainer but rather go for an office job instead.

Are fitness instructors at risk of burnout?

Since fitness instructors don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work, their risk of suffering from burnout will be rather low compared to people who have to deal with lots of stress on a daily basis and have no time to relax at all.

Is there a dress code for fitness instructors?

There is no dress code for fitness instructors.

However, the company you work for will still often provide you workwear so that you can represent your employer in the best possible manner.

What kind of fitness instructors are paid the most?

The more experienced you are and the more advanced stuff you can teach your clients, the higher the demand for your services will be and the more money you can make as a fitness instructor.

What percentage of fitness instructors are women?

Around 61% of all fitness instructors are women while 39% of fitness instructors are men.

Hence, while this industry seems to still be dominated by women, men are catching up and in a few years, chances are that the ratio will be almost 50:50.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a fitness instructor?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a fitness trainer.

What’s much more important is that you become a real expert in your industry since the better you get, the more people will demand your services and the more money you will be able to make.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a fitness instructor?

You will not be personally liable for mistakes as a fitness trainer most of the time.

However, if you are not sure about it, still consult a lawyer who can give you much better advice in this regard if you want to be on the safe side.

Do fitness instructors have a high life expectancy?

Fitness instructors have a decent life expectancy since they often live a pretty healthy lifestyle and will therefore be at lower risk of suffering from serious health issues in general.

Do fitness instructors suffer from sleeping problems?

Fitness instructors don’t suffer from sleeping problems most of the time since they often come home from work tired and are able to fall asleep quickly.

What states are best for working as a fitness instructor?

Since fitness instructors often don’t make good money, you should start working as a fitness instructor in a state where living costs are rather low so that you can pay your bills from your day job without having to work a second job.

Who do fitness instructors work with?

Fitness instructors work with many different clients.

Thus, you should be an open and outgoing person who likes to meet new people on a regular basis since you would not get happy with your job otherwise in the long run.

Is working as a fitness instructor cool?

Working as a fitness instructor is considered cool by many young people.

However, once people get older, they usually change their minds and rather don’t advise their kids to work in this field anymore due to the poor overall working conditions.

Can you start a side hustle as a fitness instructor?

It is also possible to start a side hustle as a fitness instructor.

In fact, health and fitness advice is in high demand right now and if you are really good at what you are doing, you can start your own YouTube channel or blog to make additional money on the side.

Do you have to be creative as a fitness instructor?

There is no need to be overly creative as a fitness instructor since the way people should do their exercises barely changes and you therefore just have to learn the basics and don’t need to be creative to succeed as a fitness instructor in the long run.

Do fitness instructors suffer from being overweight?

Fitness instructors barely suffer from overweight since they exercise during their workday quite often and have to make sure to stay in shape since they might lose their jobs otherwise.

How employable are fitness instructors?

Fitness instructors are not that employable anymore since people start to work out from home more often and don’t need fitness instructors anymore.

This trend will likely continue in the future and the future outlook for fitness instructors will therefore be rather poor.

Are fitness instructors happy with their jobs?

Most fitness instructors are not happy with their jobs since they don’t make good money and also don’t have high levels of job security as well as a low social standing.

Consequently, many fitness instructors think about changing their careers.

Is working as a fitness instructor exciting?

Being a fitness instructor is not that exciting.

After a few months or years, you will just do the same things over and over again and your initial excitement may fade rather quickly.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a fitness instructor?

You will not have a positive impact on our environment as a fitness instructor.

While you will do an important job to make people fitter on an individual level, you will not have the power to make their lives eco-friendlier.

What are the pros and cons of working as a fitness instructor?

If you are still interested in becoming a fitness instructor, you may also want to have a look at additional pros and cons of a fitness instructor career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/319319/number-of-fitness-instructors-in-the-uk/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/641137/money-spent-on-personal-trainers-in-us/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

Wanna support my blog? Share it!

Pin It on Pinterest