Distance learning training specifically for aerobics instructors isn't commonly available from schools, but a number of colleges and universities offer relevant continuing education courses as well as for-credit academic programs. Online professional development classes are often intended for those looking to gain a new skill set on the side of other commitments. Formal bachelor's and master's degree programs in areas like kinesiology, personal training and fitness and nutrition provide a comprehensive education that can prepare students for not only fitness instructor roles but also positions in education, athletic training and coaching. It is also possible to earn a certificate or diploma in the field.
Although many programs and courses in this field are offered totally online, some schools require on-campus sessions for in-person practice or perhaps even an internship at an approved local facility. On-site training may also be offered as a type of audition for an instructor position at the school's campus recreation center. Admission to continuing education classes may not be strict, but students entering an online degree program must meet several standards. For example, a kinesiology master's degree program could require applicants to have a bachelor's degree, GRE scores and recommendation letters.
Examples of distance learning programs that could help students meet their goal of becoming aerobic instructors include the following:
- Personal Trainer Diploma
- Fitness and Nutrition Certificate
- Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
- Master of Science in Kinesiology
Fitness Instructor Training
One advantage of online training is that some programs allow students to work at their own pace within a given time period, which is often longer than a typical semester of courses offered on-site. However, some distance learning programs do require individuals to follow a schedule with strict due dates for assignments or assessments. Online students typically log on to a school's virtual classroom environment which is delivered through a course management system. Lectures, instructional videos, assignments and communication tools like discussion boards or chat rooms may be available around the clock.
Internet-based training for aerobics instructors may be general or more specialized but usually consist of basic courses in anatomy and physiology, exercise science, business management and nutrition. Some available concentrations include the following:
- Group fitness on land
- Aquatic group fitness
- Personal training
- Exercise for older adults
- Exercise for women
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors is expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024. Those with professional certification are projected to experience the best job opportunities.
Continuing Education Information
Upon completion of a fitness instructor program, individuals may be eligible for certification through a national organization. Certifying organizations include the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise and the National Association for Fitness Certification. Eligibility information, study materials, and exam details are available through each individual website.
Although a variety of certifications are available for fitness professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are no set requirements for group fitness instructors (www.bls.gov). Individuals interested in teaching aerobics can choose a training program and certification on their own or wait to find out specific requirements from a potential employer. Certification typically lasts two years, and then instructors must attain continuing education credits through coursework or training in order to become re-certified.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of athletic training, aspiring and experienced aerobics instructors can find relevant standalone courses and degree or certificate programs in a wide range of areas, from the hard sciences to psychology to business management.