How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor

If you are looking to work in the world of fitness, there are many positions that you can look for as an entry point.

But if you love group exercise and see yourself leading classes daily, then without a doubt, the position of a group fitness instructor is for YOU!

And in this blog, we will guide you through every step you need to take to make that dream come true.

We will cover what exactly it is a certified group fitness instructor does, what certifications you will need to have to become one and other information related to the position. Sounds good? Let’s start then!

Finally suggest you take the quiz to see which group exercise certification is the best option for you, or check out my article on the top group exercise programs.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?

The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to personal/group training that you have. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours). Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

How To Become A Group Fitness Instructor (YouTube)

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Guiding Group Exercises: What’s It All About?

Guiding Group Exercises: What's It All About?

While you may love participating in group exercise such as aerobics or spinning classes at your local gym and see yourself as a group fitness instructor, do you know exactly what they do?

Well, let’s take a closer look at the role of a group fitness instructor.

And it’s certainly more than bouncing around to a funky piece of music shouting, “And a 1, and a 2, and a 3 and 4…!”

Plan fitness classes in the discipline of your choice

While you would think that the most important aspect of a group fitness instructor’s job involves running fitness classes, that can’t happen without planning, that’s for sure.

Any class held in a gym involving a group has been planned meticulously beforehand.

And that planning revolves around several factors, the most important of which are:

  • The fitness level of the participants
  • The type of class, for example, cardio workout, muscle toning, etc
  • Fitting in the necessary daily and weekly fitness classes to cover beginners, intermediate and advanced participants

Planning is an ongoing requirement and part of a group fitness instructor’s daily work.

Why? Well, a gym is certainly never a place that stagnates, you will be expected to switch things up very often.

And that keeps things exciting!

Take the lead!

Take the lead!

By far the biggest part of a group fitness instructors day will be leading fitness classes. And for that, you need to in tip-top shape with the highest of fitness levels.

Classes vary and will be in your discipline of choice. You may prefer aerobics, or perhaps spinning but rest assured, doing several classes per day, even if it is just beginners classes require both fitness and mental strength.

Why? Well, you need to be at your best for every class to make it worthwhile for the participants. It’s a case of leading by example and leading from the front. A group workout instructor sets the standard in every single class they are in charge of.

Leading a group fitness class also means you must always keep your eyes open.

That’s because fitness classes can involve many participants, and you must watch them to ensure they perform the exercises properly.

Injuries could occur if they are not.

So the need for an eagle-eye is important, and when you see someone who is not doing an exercise correctly, without making them feel bad, show them the proper way to do it.

Inspire and motivate

No matter what the level of participants, be it a beginners class or that of experienced gym-goers, a group exercise class is tough! And as it goes on, it’s easy for participants to lose their motivation, especially as they begin to tire.

And that’s where a group fitness instructor needs to up their game! It’s about inspiring and motivating, getting each individual to push as hard as they can for as long as they can.

But motivation runs deeper than that as well. It’s also about connecting one-on-one with each individual attending the classes.

By learning more about them, what makes them tick and why they want to work out, a group exercise fitness trainer can motivate each person individually.

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It could even be meeting and chatting, especially if they missed a few workouts. That personal connection can go a long way to inspire people and help them get to a fitness level where they can be proud of their achievements.

By learning more about each individual in a class, a group fitness instructor can also help them toward their own individual fitness goal.

And all of these will be different for each participant.

That’s because everyone is unique and at a different point in their lives regarding what they want to achieve by going to the gym.

An aerobics instructor job may seem tasking but it is about adding value to others.

So now you know what is expected of a group fitness instructor, how do you go about becoming a group fitness instructor?

Well, the most important step you will take on this journey is getting certified.

Certification… What’s it All About?

Certification... What's it All About?

So certification is key to becoming a group fitness trainer BUT it can all be a little murky, especially with all the fitness instructor certification options on offer out there.

And that’s where we are going to step in and help by pointing out three certifications that you should consider in your path to becoming a certified fitness instructor.

These are offered by three of the most reputable fitness certification organizations available today:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • American Council on Exercise
  • International Sports Science Association

Let’s take a closer look.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (AFAA) Group Fitness Instructor Certification

National Academy of Sports Medicine Group Fitness Instructor certification

The NASM Group Fitness Instructor certification is certainly right up there with the best group fitness certification and should form part of your consideration when deciding on where you want to earn your accreditation from.

Let’s take a look at it in a little more detail. The NASM offers three group instructor certification options. These are:

  • Group fitness instructor self-study
  • Group fitness instructor premium self-study
  • Group fitness instructor all-inclusive

Group fitness instructor self-study ($299)

The basic option in the trio offered by the NASM, the group fitness instructor self-study certification, offers everything you need to work as a group fitness instructor.

The course is taken online and uses a series of videos covering lectures and the techniques a group fitness instructor will use daily while holding fitness classes.

A group fitness booklet in digital format provides any further information you would need to help complete your certification.

And to practice, NASM provides a wealth of material to help ensure you ace your accreditation exam first time. This includes study guides and online practice tests, all of which prepare you enough for the real thing.

Should you have any questions about anything related to this self-study certification, support is available through online chat, a phone call or by sending an email, whichever suits you best.

All applicants will receive discounts on other NASM courses, subscription to American Fitness Magazine, and 1.5 NASM continuing education units.

This course will set you back $299, which can also be paid off over several months.

Group fitness instructor premium self-study ($399)

Group fitness instructor premium self-study ($499)

The second option is the NASM group fitness instructor premium self-study course. It offers all that the first course does with a little extra to help you pass your certification exam.

So let’s recap on what you will receive before looking at the extras.

All study material is video lectures and a digital format fitness book. Group fitness technique videos are provided to help you learn everything you need to lead a group fitness class.

Any questions you may have regarding the study material or while prepping for the exam can be answered in three ways: online, by email or by phone. NASM also provides online practice tests to help you prepare.

Further to this, you will receive 1.5 NASM continuing education units, discounts on further NASM courses, and a subscription to American Fitness magazine.

Ok, but what are the extras?

Well, the premium self-study package includes learning flashcards to help prepare for the certification exam; should you fail the exam, you will be allowed to retest.

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The NASM premium self-study course for a group fitness training is $399, which can be paid off over several months if need be.

Group fitness instructor premium self-study ($499)

The final option for group fitness instructor certification through NASM is the premium-self study course.

This course takes all the perks from the first two and adds a little extra.

Remember that’s all your video lectures, a digital format fitness book, group fitness technique videos, three ways of answering queries, flashcards, online practice tests, and the opportunity to retest, should you fail the exam.

You will receive 1.5 NASM continuing education units as well as discounts on other courses when you choose to study further accreditation.

The extras though are impressive.

Over and above all the learning aids you already receive, you will get a copy of a group fitness instructor training workbook to supplement your studies further.

You will also receive the opportunity to attend a workshop regarding group fitness instruction and the NASM will guarantee you a job once you have finished your course. Terms and conditions do apply for this, so be sure to check them out on the NASM website.

The premium self-study course costs $499.

Check out the current price for the NASM/AFAA group exercise certification.

American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor Certification

American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor Certification

Like the NASM, the American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor certification has three different options for you to choose from.

Let’s take a closer look at all three.

Group fitness certification pro essentials ($299)

The first and cheapest option from ACE is the group fitness pro essentials certification.

An online fitness instructor courses, by signing up you will be given full access to the ACE digital classroom which includes all your study material, reviews and practice tests for each chapter, articles, videos, podcasts, and webinars.

Students will receive the ACE group fitness instructor handbook as a digital copy with the option to purchase a hardcopy if you so wish.

For exam preparation, you will have the chance at one practice exam (with answers) before you attempt the real thing.

Finally, ACE will sign you up to their referral reward program as well as securing you an interview for a job placement once you are certified.

All this will cost $299.

Group fitness certification pro plus ($449)

The second option from ACE is the pro plus group fitness certification.

This has all the perks of the pro essentials plus a little more.

So on signing up, you receive full access to all the podcasts, interview, practice tests, and chapter reviews, videos, and various webinars pertaining to your group training certification and the position in general.

Instead of the ebook version of the ACE group fitness instructor handbook, you will also receive a hardcopy. For exam preparation, you can now take two practice exams along with receiving the correct answers afterward.

ACE will also set up an employment interview on completion of the course as well as signing you up to their referral bonus program, while anything that needs to be delivered to you will be done so free of charge.

The pro plus group fitness trainer certification costs $449.

Group fitness certification pro advantage ($599)

The final group fitness certification option from ACE is their most pricey.

It comes with all of the perks of the other two but with some nifty extras that if you can afford the price increase, are certainly worth it.

What are they?

Well, in terms of practice certification exams, you can now try out three before you attempt the real deal. And should you fail, you can take one retest as part of the package.

For study instruction, you will receive both a digital and hardcopy of the group instructors handbook and an extra online resource package to help prepare you for the certification exam.

These extra means that the pro advantage certification costs $599.

Check out the current price for the ACE group exercise certification.

International Sports Science Association Group Fitness Instructor Certification

International Sports Science Association Group Fitness Instructor certification

The final group fitness instructor certification we will look at is the Specialist in Group Fitness offered by the ISSA.

The first major difference you will notice is that it’s a little more expensive than the others from NASM and ACE and comes in at $799. That’s a full $200 more than the next most expensive option.

So what do you get for your money?

Well, one thing is for sure, this is a very extensive certification course that covers just about everything regarding group fitness instruction. ISSA continually update their course material, so what you receive always includes the newest trends in the fitness industry.

And studying is easy. Not only will you be able to do so online but the ISSA group fitness instructor certification includes hard copies of all the coursework you will need during your certification.

By putting in just two hours a day, ISSA claims that you can complete the course in around 10 weeks at the most.

Preparation for the final exam is key and here ISSA offers online practice tests and access to coaching should you find a module that you are finding difficulty with.

Or compare notes with peers in of the many ISSA forums online.

You will also receive access to the ISSA web-based exercise lab that includes 250 different exercises in animated or 3D illustrations.

And the final exam?

Well, not only is it untimed but its open book as well. Should you not pass the first time, you may take a retest at your earliest convenience.

The exam can either be taken as a traditional pen and paper test or easier still, complete it online where and when it suits you.

But there’s more!

Once you have passed the ISSA group fitness instructor course certification, they will assist you in setting up a free website to promote yourself.

They will also provide ongoing educational support if you need it during your career.

Check out the ISSA group exercise certification here.

So, Which One is Best?

So, Which One is Best?

Well, that’s a tough one to answer.

If you still haven’t done so, take the quiz to see which group exercise program is good for you.

Become a Group Fitness Instructor - the [year] Guide 3
Become a Group Fitness Instructor - the [year] Guide 4

In reality, you need to investigate the three a little more in-depth and decide based on factors that will influence you, for example, how much is in your budget to spend on a group fitness instructor certification course.

One thing you can be sure of though, is that all three of these courses, are extremely thorough and will set you up for a career as a group fitness instructor online.

That’s thanks to the fact that they will provide you with the knowledge you need to lead groups of people in exercise and the other finer points that go into the daily roles a group fitness instructor performs.

And should you require any further help as you prepare for your accreditation exam, many online portals such as Trainer Academy offer practice quizzes so you can make sure you are thoroughly prepared to pass on your first time of trying.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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4 thoughts on “Become a Group Fitness Instructor – the 2024 Guide”

  1. It makes sense that you should learn more about your clients and what makes them tick to personally motivate them with exercises. I’m thinking about becoming a fitness instructor since I love being healthy and helping others. It sounds like I should get my training certificate first so I can work anywhere.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, a group exercise certification will definitely help you on your way to becoming a group exercise instructor. It’s one of the best jobs. Good luck with your personal training career.

      Reply

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