Fitness instructor Job Description - Duties, Skills and Career
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Fitness Instructor Job Description
A fitness instructor (also known as a fitness trainer or fitness coach) organizes and conducts fitness classes for groups of people. Examples of the types of lessons a fitness coach may teach include cardio training, water aerobics, crossfit training, pilates, postural training and stretching.
Let’s take a detailed look at what the job of a fitness instructor specifically involves.
Unlike a personal trainer, whose principally responsibility is training individual clients, the main focus of the job of a fitness instructor is running group fitness classes.
The job of a fitness trainer is to plan and deliver fun, engaging and effective courses and lessons designed to improve participants’ mental and physical well-being, enhance muscle tone and strength and, in some cases, promote weight loss.
Fitness instructors adapt the content of the classes they teach to suit a broad range of age groups, abilities and levels of physical fitness (e.g. beginners and advanced levels, children, senior citizens and pregnant women).
Among a fitness trainer’s key tasks are explaining to participants how to perform exercises and providing them with practical demonstrations. Trainers should help their students execute routines correctly and ensure they feel relaxed and comfortable. Exercises may be carried out with or without equipment. In some cases, fitness classes may feature accompanying or background music, designed to promote movement and make the activity more enjoyable.
Fitness instructors are responsible for checking that class attendees are performing routines, movements and exercises properly, correcting any incorrect positions, movements or postures and monitoring the frequency and intensity of workouts and training sessions. They also make sure that health and safety regulations are complied with during workouts in order to prevent accidents and injuries caused by improper training techniques or an incorrect use of equipment. Fitness instructors constantly assess students’ progress and review and fine-tune the content of their classes to ensure they reflect participants’ needs, goals and results. Another key task of a fitness instructor is motivating clients to continue with the classes or programs they are attending.
In addition to teaching a range of different disciplines, fitness instructors at a gym, health club or sports centre may also carry out other tasks, such as staffing the reception desk, registering new members, planning class timetables and checking gym equipment (e.g. benches, exercise bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, barbells and dumbbells) to ensure it is in safe working order. They may also sell and promote fitness products and services provided by the fitness centre or gym (e.g. gym memberships, course subscriptions, personal training sessions, massage therapy sessions, sports accessories and equipment).
In the event of accidents or injuries occurring during classes or workouts, fitness instructors administer first aid pending the arrival of medical assistance.
Fitness coaches typically work at gyms, fitness centres, swimming pools, health clubs and sports centres (either as employees or in a freelance capacity). Their main focus is organizing and conducting fitness classes and overseeing activities in the weight room.
They also work at hotels, holiday resorts and cruise ships, where their role is essentially that of a holiday rep, i.e. organizing and conducting the fitness and sports classes (e.g. zumba, aerobics, toning and morning workout sessions) offered by the venue or facility. This is often seasonal work.
The working hours of a fitness instructor may be full or part time.
Fitness Instructor Responsibilities and Tasks
The main tasks of a fitness instructor include:
- Planning and conducting fun, safe and effective fitness classes and workouts
- Explaining exercises and demonstrating how to perform them correctly
- Designing exercise routines and workouts to suit all ages, abilities and needs
- Designing training and workout plans for clients/gym users
- Helping course participants during exercise routines and workouts and checking they are performing exercises correctly
- Evaluating course content and modifying it where necessary
- Motivating clients to improve their performance and continue with their training programs
- Checking to ensure that exercises and equipment are performed/used safely
- Ensuring all fitness equipment is in perfect working order
- Ensuring that the gym is clean and tidy
- Encouraging clients to lead an active, healthy lifestyle
- Promoting and selling programs and activities offered by the gym or sports centre
- Providing first aid, where necessary
How to Become a Fitness Instructor - Education and Training
Becoming a fitness instructor usually requires a qualification in physical education or sports science. In addition to university degree programs, there are also a range of courses for aspiring fitness instructors organized by training centres and sports federations.
Course content typically covers a variety of sports and medical topics, including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and dietology. As well as studying training theory, course participants also practice the disciplines they will be going on to teach (for example, aerobics, functional training, cardio training, water aerobics, pilates and many others besides).
In addition to a knowledge of correct exercise techniques, fitness coaches also need to develop the ability to recognize activities that represent a risk for a client’s health and should be ready to intervene in the event of an injury or illness. For this reason, basic first aid is one of the key elements of training courses designed for fitness instructors.
Finally, in some countries, there may be a legal requirement for fitness instructors to obtain a license before they can practice.
Skills and Qualifications
Fitness instructors need the following skills:
- Practical and theoretical knowledge of sports and fitness
- Ability to design training programs
- Ability to teach sports and fitness activities
- Knowledge of fitness and training equipment
- Ability to assess a client’s level of physical fitness and potential
- Knowledge of first aid methods
- Energy, enthusiasm and dynamism
- Time management skills
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Excellent physical fitness
Fitness Instructor Career Path
Fitness instructors enjoy a wide range of career prospects and employment options. These include specializing in a specific area or discipline (e.g. pilates, cardio training, water aerobics or weight training) or becoming a personal trainer and focusing on helping and motivating individual clients to achieve their fitness goals.
With experience, fitness instructors may progress into a management and planning role, such as gym manager or fitness centre manager, where responsibilities typically include managing and overseeing fitness areas and equipment, coordinating the work of other instructors, timetabling courses, processing gym memberships and answering customer enquiries.
Others still may decide to open up their own gym or fitness club or to become a mobile fitness instructor, conducting training sessions at people’s homes.
Finally, another possibility is a career in sales, for example in a sports shop or in the sales department of a manufacturer of sportswear, sports equipment or health and dietary supplements.
Top Reasons to Work as a Fitness Instructor
A career as a fitness instructor is ideal for anybody with a passion for fitness and sports who wants to share their love with others. The job offers the chance to play an important role in encouraging people to take up an active and healthy lifestyle and can bring great personal and professional rewards.
Fitness instructors are constantly developing and innovating their training programmes and exercise routines, meaning the role is never short on variety. And for fitness instructors who are interested in growing professionally, there is ample scope for learning and offering new disciplines and sporting activities.
Employment prospects for fitness instructors are very good at present, with large numbers of job openings available. The fitness and wellness industry is experiencing significant growth, with gym and fitness club memberships on the rise, while hotels, cruise ships and holiday resorts are all looking for qualified fitness instructors who can satisfy the growing demand from guests for sports and fitness activities in tourist destinations.