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Salary and Career Information for Group Exercise Instructors

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a group exercise instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A group exercise instructor needs to enjoy interacting with people, particularly in a teaching or leadership capacity, as they are responsible for leading different types of fitness classes. No formal training is required, but certification or a degree in a related field may improve job prospects.

Essential Information

Group exercise instructors teach aerobics and conditioning classes to groups, generally in a fitness center or health club. While group fitness instructors are typically not required to have certification, many employers encourage it. To earn certification, exercise instructors must have a certificate in CPR and be 18 or older.

Required Education High school diploma
Other Requirements Exercise experience, optional certification
Projected Job Growth* 8% between 2014 and 2024 (fitness trainers and instructors)
Average Salary (2015)* $40,970 (fitness trainers and instructors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Group Exercise Instructors

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) reported that full-time group fitness instructors earned an average salary of $52,848 annually, while part-time instructors earned an average of $26 per hour in 2013. The ACE's survey found that instructors with a bachelor's earned more, and individuals who made the most were instructors with a master's and advanced certifications. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned a mean wage of $40,970 as of May 2015.

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Career Information for Group Exercise Instructors

Job Description

Group exercise instructors demonstrate the proper techniques for a specific type of exercise and observe students to ensure that they are working out correctly. They create an exercise lesson appropriate for the students' level of experience. The BLS explains that employers don't expect to train group exercise instructors; they should be properly trained before they obtain a position (www.bls.gov).

Requirements

Aspiring group exercise instructors usually start by taking classes. They gain an understanding of the instructor's role and the requirements of both the teacher and students, as well as how to run an exercise class. They also may learn how an instructor handles problems in the class.

After gaining experience, they may audition for a position at a health club or fitness center. While some instructors earn a bachelor's degree in health, fitness or a comparable discipline, the position of group exercise instructor has no minimum educational requirements. However, both the Pilates Method Alliance and the Yoga Alliance recommend instructors spend at minimum 200 hours taking formal training before starting to work as yoga or Pilates instructors.

Certification Information

While group exercise instructors may begin teaching classes without certification, numerous employers require it. Many organizations offer group exercise certification, and the BLS recommends that the applicant makes sure that the organization is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Most certifications require applicants to be 18 years old or older, have some experience, possess a CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) certificates and pass a written exam.

The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) offers a primary group exercise certification, which includes a one-day review session, concluding with the practical and written tests. ACE also offers certification, which tests applicants' knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology, class design and injury prevention.

A group exercise instructor typically works in a fitness center teaching different types of aerobic classes to groups of clients. A high school diploma is generally the minimum education requirement, though instructors may choose to obtain certification to boost their chances of employment.

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