Working out on a regular basis comes with great rewards. It can boost your energy and your mood while improving your physical health.

Maybe your income also needs a boost.

Despite the benefits of exercise, many people prefer working out with someone rather than exercising alone. Fitness instructors and personal trainers teach and motivate individuals and/or groups during exercise routines. These fitness programs can include cardio routines, strength training, and/or stretching.

Check out these following tips for being a successful fitness instructor.


Here are some great reasons to become a fitness instructor or personal trainer:

  • It’s a rewarding career. What’s better than staying in shape and meeting your own fitness goals? Helping other people stay healthy and fit. You and your clients can share a great feeling of achievement while working on fitness goals.
  • Flexible schedule. You can be a successful fitness instructor with a schedule that works around your class schedule and other responsibilities. Are you a morning person? If so, look for clients who want to exercise early in the day. Or consider clients who exercise as a way to relieve stress near the end of a long day if you prefer to work out later in the day. You can also choose certain days of the week to work with clients.
  • Possible high income: You probably won’t make a lot of money at first, as a fitness instructor. But fitness instructors can earn a solid part-time or full-time income as they get more experience and/or start working with more affluent clients. For example, some long-time fitness trainers earn $100 per hour.


  • You have to be 18 or older. Most fitness instruction certification programs have this age requirement.
  • The work can be physically challenging. You probably enjoy working out … most of the time. But even the biggest fitness gurus have days when they just don’t feel like exercising. Feeling sick or dealing with an injury could temporarily interrupt your income.

How to Get Started:

NOTE: Before you start your business, you should read the page on this website entitled “things to think about before you get started.” After you have taken the preliminary steps for starting any business, you can take the specific steps outlined below.

Here are some tips for how to start your fitness instructor business.

Step One
Graduate from high school. Most national fitness instructor certification programs require aspiring fitness instructors/trainers to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or an equivalent such as a GED (General Education Development test). One exception to this general rule is that 17-year-olds can take the Aerobics and Fitness Association (AFAA) personal trainer certification, with a parent’s permission.

Step Two
Get certified for AED/CPR. Fitness instructors are expected to know some techniques for handling physical emergencies with clients, including certain heart-related or breathing emergencies, until professional emergency responders arrive.

That’s why fitness industry experts strongly recommend fitness instructors earn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certifications. Organizations like the American Red Cross offer CPR and AED certification programs online and in person in most cities and towns.

Step Three
Pick a fitness niche. Like many other types of businesses, it pays to know who your ideal client is for your fitness instructor business. Consider certain fitness categories that are a great match for your skills and interests.

For example, do you want to work with small groups of people or do you prefer providing customized personal training? Do you want your clients to be in a certain age group? Knowing your ideal customer will help you move forward with plans to get specialized training for certain types of fitness instruction.

Step Four
Prepare for and complete specialized certification. Getting ready for certifications such as Certified Personal Trainer, can range from test preparation courses to a series of training classes, and even a college degree for some programs.

Use this step to decide if you want to invest the time and money needed to get the certification needed for the type of fitness instruction you’re interested in doing. If so, look at online and in-person programs and classes that will help you prepare for certification. Complete and pass the certification program’s final exam/test.

Step Five
Get clients. Now that you’re a certified fitness instructor, you have choices for getting new clients. You could work online, visit clients in person, or even work as an independent contractor with a local gym.

Network and get to know local gym employees, gym owners, as well as other fitness instructors in your local area and in online fitness communities. Create social media profiles on popular platforms. TikTok and Instagram are great sites for fitness trainers. You should also consider creating your own website to promote your fitness instruction services.

How much to charge

Fitness instructors have a wide range of pay that depends on their level of experience, the time length of workout sessions, among other factors. Fees for fitness instructors usually range from $25 to $100 per session.

Taking it to the next level

1. Get your finances in shape.
Do you have a friend or family member who manages their own money well? Talk with them or consult an accountant about how to handle taxes and other money issues for your fitness instruction business.

2. Be patient.
Seeing results from a new fitness routine takes time. The same is true for starting a business. It may take time to find your first few clients. It also takes time for these clients to start seeing results from working out with you. Being patient and continuing to learn about fitness instruction during the slow times in your business can pay off.

For example, your first few clients could eventually start feeling healthier and refer you to their friends who could become your new clients and help you build your business and your reputation.

3. Listen, then teach.
Starting a new fitness routine can feel overwhelming. Some of your clients may already feel nervous, and the last thing they need is to be around someone who is too judgmental.

When you get a new client, consider taking some time during one of your first few meetings/appointments to talk with them about their fitness goal(s), what exercises and other methods they’ve tried in the past, and other related concerns or issues.

Image credit: Photo by Kaylee Garrett on Unsplash

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