How Do I Become an Aerobics Instructor?

Research what it takes to become an aerobics instructor. Learn about job outlook, salary, education requirements and certification to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Aerobics Instructor Do?

Aerobics instructors teach individuals and/or groups through fitness routines and how to use relevant equipment. They must enforce safety regulations and advise clients on nutrition. Client progress must be monitored and programs adjusted accordingly. Instructors must be able to execute emergency first aid if needed. Find out more about this field, including some of the skills needed and potential salary and employment.

Education Required High school diploma; postsecondary certificate or undergraduate degree is optional
Education Field of Study Fitness, exercise science, health, physical education
Key Skills Speaking, physical stamina and fitness, motivation, listening
Certification Certification is voluntary, but recommended
Job Growth (2018-2028) 13% (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*
Median Salary (2018) $39,820 (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education and Training Do Aerobics Instructors Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aspiring aerobics instructors don't necessarily need postsecondary education. They can obtain a position by taking part in exercise classes, passing an audition and participating in training courses. Figures from O*Net Online show around 36% of instructors had a postsecondary certificate. Another 20% had an associate's degree and 20% had a bachelor's degree. A certificate program in exercise science or a bachelor's degree in physical education could significantly improve your employment prospects.

Exercise science certificate programs provide you with basic training in exercise physiology, exercise methods, program design and instructional methods. Classes may also touch on strength training, sports injuries and fitness assessment. Bachelor's degree programs in physical education incorporate the same material as certificate programs, but cover additional topics involving anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics and fitness theory. They also may cover training methods for assorted individual and team sports. Programs may give you the option to choose among concentrations for aspiring fitness directors, coaches, teachers or physical therapists.

What Certification Options Are Available?

Most organizations that hire instructors prefer that you are certified. While you have multiple certification options, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) are two of the more prominent certifying bodies. ACE offers the Group Fitness Instructor certification. The exam tests your knowledge of exercise programming, group instructional methods, class leadership and professional responsibilities.

AFAA offers the Primary Group Exercise certification. It's built around a workshop lasting one day that concludes with a written and a practical exam. The workshop and exam cover anatomy, fitness theory, exercise standards and exercise evaluation.

You could also consider obtaining the Group Exercise Instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which is similar to the ACE certification. The ACSM exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions that test your knowledge of participant and program assessment, instruction and leadership, class design and professional responsibilities.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Although figures for aerobics instructors alone weren't available, approximately 356,900 people were employed as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors as of 2018, per the BLS. Employment was projected to rise to around 402,500 by 2028. The BLS reported that about 58% of jobs were in the fitness and recreation industry. Civic and social organizations provided another 10%.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

As an aerobics instructor, you will teach a student or group of students how to perform individual exercises and lead them through exercise sessions. Specific duties may include planning group exercise sessions to provide maximum stimulation to different muscle groups; selecting music to accompany exercise sessions; tailoring routines to the abilities and fitness level of individual students; observing sessions, encouraging participants to sustain their level of effort and helping those who aren't performing exercises correctly; introducing more challenging exercises or stepping up the pace as students improve. They may also tend to minor injuries and advise students on nutrition, lifestyle choices and home workout options.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers include those of athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and recreation workers. Athletic trainers design and implement injury prevention and treatment programs. Exercise physiologists create fitness programs for those struggling with chronic diseases. Recreation workers are involved with leisure activities, such as sports and dance, for recreation facilities like senior centers. While athletic trainers and exercise physiologists must have a bachelor's degree to work, recreation workers only need a high school diploma.

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