Back to all posts


by Circuit

Top FAQs for New Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers


by Catherine Rotman

Becoming a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer can be a rewarding career or passion you can balance alongside a full-time job, allowing you to make a positive impact on people’s health. The best part is, the process to obtain a certification in group fitness or personal training can be completed in as little as six months. Whether you are considering a career or a side hustle in group fitness, or personal training, or new to the field, here are answers to 10 common questions that can give you a better idea what the future holds.

1. How much money do Personal Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors make?

It’s estimated that full-time Personal Trainers are paid an average annual salary of $38,768 while a full-time Group Fitness Instructor can average an annual salary of $41,006, according to Zippia. Of course this depends on the location you are teaching or training, the amount of clients or classes you teach, and also the level of experience you have. Average starting salaries for Personal Trainers is usually at $25,000 and $28,000 for Fitness Instructors. Places that have the both the highest number of Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers as a profession include Chicago, and New York City with Chicago being the top in-demand location for personal trainers.

The top 10% of highest-paid fitness instructors earn as much as $58,000 or more while the highest paid personal trainers made as much as $50,258 in Boston, MA.


2. How do I become a Group Fitness Instructor?

There are several different websites allowing you to easily start your certification process to become a Group Fitness Instructor. The most popular and accredited organizations for the industry are ACE Fitness, AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America), and AFPA (American Fitness Professionals Association). All of these certifications can be obtained within 6 months and are available for you to go at your own pace.

A wide range of resources to help you learn are available between all the common sites for certification, but vary slightly, and can offer different benefits depending on your learning style. ACE Fitness certifications include recorded videos, webinars, podcasts, a study handbook, practice exams, expert articles and study help. AFAA offers a lot of videos, digital books, study guides, practice exams, quizzes, an exercise video library, as well as chat/phone and email support depending on how many resources you are interested in. Lastly, AFPA includes online video training, self assessment practice assignments, sample class routines, physical activity readiness questions, health evaluation form templates, videos on proper techniques, as well as practice drills, how-to-modules for step-by-step class routines, and practical assignments.

3. How do I become a Personal Trainer?

Personal Training certifications can also be obtained through several places including ACE Fitness, AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America), AFPA (American Fitness Professionals Association), NCSF (National Council on Strength & Fitness), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association).

ACE Fitness Certifications include textbooks, a study companion, and a dedicated individualized support team for higher plans. AFAA includes online video lectures, a Personal Fitness Trainer downloadable study guide, a free digital subscription to the American Fitness Magazine with your enrollment. AFPA offers eBooks and/or physical textbooks based on your learning preference, an online video library, learning activity, practice quizzes, self assessments, and study guides. NCSF features instructional videos, instructor support, review quizzes, and the option of a workshop higher packages. NASM combines interactive classes and optional live workshops, options to talk with an advisor for cost, and also claim guaranteed Job Placement. ISSA is one of the most accredited institutions, and includes components such as CPR and Nutrition certifications to supplement your personal training and offers an extensive range of plans designed to be custom to your needs.

4. What does it cost to become a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer?

The cost for a certification in Group Fitness starts around $269 and ranges to upwards of $799 depending on level of resources and support you need, with the most basic packages available through ACE, the most diverse range of pricing and options from high end to low end through AFAA, and more middle of the road pricing at AFPA.

The cost for a certification in Personal Training ranges from $349 – $899, with NCSF offering the most basic plans, ACE offering more diverse and higher-end plans, and AFPA and AFAA offering more middle-of-the-road plans and pricing. As ISSA has more extensive options including CPR and nutrition to supplement your personal training, their bundles are the highest-end prices but to help with costs, they can be paid in monthly increments from $69/month to $99/month depending on the plan you select.

5. Is Personal Training or Group Fitness a good full-time job?

A great component of Personal Training and Group Fitness is that you can do it outside of your full-time job for extra income, or if you wish to do it full-time, you can look for careers that may be available with gyms or other specific organizations that may offer a wellness or fitness services. At Circuit, our Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors have the bonus of working with an open schedule, so if you have a 9-5 already, it can be a fun and easy way to do what you love and help others outside of your full-time job while earning extra income and getting your own workout in, all at the same time.

6. Should I work at a gym or facility before trying to build my own business?

While it’s not necessary, working with a gym or on behalf of another company is one of the best ways to start gaining invaluable experience as a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer. When you are working with a company or at a gym, you have an opportunity to work directly with peers in your field who can give you constructive feedback and help you learn critical skills that you might not otherwise gain from just jumping in on your own. You also have a chance to build a good reputation that enables you the confidence and knowledge you need before trialing your own business. A great benefit to working as a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer with Circuit, is having a chance to work in a variety of diverse settings, and opportunities to earn dynamic skills before moving on to build your own business.

7. Is it too late for me to start a career as a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer?

You might be surprised to learn that the average age for both Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers is 37 years old. Regardless of this, it’s never too late to consider doing something you love either as a career, or on the side of your career if you feel called to help enrich others lives through fitness and health. The reward of knowing you are impacting lives is one of the greatest ways that group fitness and personal training will continue to give back to you. The ability to attain the certification in 6 months makes it even more realistic to consider the possibilities that personal training and group fitness instruction have to fit into your life and goals to help others.

8. What’s the best way to gain clients as a Personal Trainer?

The best way to gain clients as a Personal Trainer is through referrals and word of mouth. Once you have established a good working relationship with a few clients, you can encourage them to bring a partner, or try working out with a small group at a special rate. You can also incentivize current clients with a free session if they are able to recommend you with a new client. A good marketing strategy can further your ability to reach a larger audience of potential clients, and help you build awareness and reputation to your name (see next question for more marketing tips).

9. What’s the best way to market myself as a Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer?

In addition to word of mouth, a basic single page website that showcases your professional work and includes reviews from your clients, a list of certifications and skills you have, and direct contact information is a great start. If you have no website expertise, don’t worry. There are lots of easy platforms that allow you to craft an easy and minimal website with little effort, including Squarespace, Wix, and even Mailchimp. If that thought is still too intimidating, start with a basic social network site you are comfortable with, whether it be Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, and showcase as much as you can there through video clips, bursts of fitness, samples of your work, or shoutouts from clients or attendees of your classes to keep your audience engaged and interested.

If you do have a website, be sure to prominently share all your social networks on your page. The more places you market yourself, the greater potential for reaching new clients. Be sure to smile a lot, dress appropriately, use good camera and video etiquette when you share live clips, and be as informative as possible to create the most welcoming and knowledgeable impression of yourself.

10. I just earned my certification in Group Fitness and/or Personal Training. Now what?

If you are just starting out as a brand new Group Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer, a popular place to look for openings are sites dedicated to your field including AFPA,,, national academy of sports medicine,,, and NESTA Job boards. In addition to those areas, at Circuit we offer a variety of group fitness classes and personal training to residential and corporate communities throughout the country. If you are looking for the best place to build your experience in Personal Training or Group Fitness with flexibility to your current schedule, visit our Openings for Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers to explore Personal Training and Group Fitness jobs near you today.

Read next

Stay up to date with the latest blog posts from Equilibrium.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

*By providing your email, you indicate you have read and understood our Privacy Policy.