How to Become a Certified Fitness Instructor


A certified fitness instructor is a fitness professional who has taken a training workshop and certification test to demonstrate her knowledge and skills as a fitness instructor. Most gyms, recreation facilities, spas or schools will require that an instructor be certified to teach. If you are interested in becoming an instructor at a specific location, check with management to find out if a specific certification is required. One of the national certifications should be sufficient. College degrees are also helpful, but you may be able to find employment with just the national certification.

Things You'll Need

  • Training manual
  • CPR certification

Getting certified

  • Find the various organizations that certify fitness instructors. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are the three top credentialed organizations. Chose the one that fits your needs the best.

  • Get your CPR/AED certification. This is a requirement for every organization. The American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer classes on a regular basis in every part of the country.

  • Purchase the study materials for the certification of your choice. All three organizations have study materials to help to pass the test. It is highly recommended that you have these materials and study them. All of them will include a practice examination. Anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology and class techniques such as cuing, class design, injury prevention and music are all covered in the study material. Take the time to learn the information in the study materials. Practice teaching a class at home if you have never taught before.

  • Take the certifying examination. A certifying exam will have both a written and practical exam. The written exam will cover areas such as knowledge of anatomy, movement of the body, various exercises and how to prevent injury. It will also cover how to instruct a class, class design and dealing with the students in the class. The practical exam is the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability and knowledge of various parts of a class, from warm up to cool down and a variety of exercise options for various body parts.

  • Maintain your certification. After you have passed the exam and become a certified fitness instructor, each organization requires that you to continue your education by taking classes and workshops.Certifications are renewed every two years.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is best to have some teaching experience prior to taking a fitness instructor certification exam. Many gyms will allow you to teach classes to gain experience so that you have a much better change to pass the exam.
  • After you have been certified, getting specialty certifications is a good idea. If you teach only a few specific activities, such as Pilates or water aerobics, taking workshops in those particular areas will give you added knowledge that will allow you to improve your instructing.

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  • Photo Credit The champion in a fitness center. image by Andrey Kiselev from
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