Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor
Kaiwhakangungu Tinana/Kaiwhakaako Whakapakari
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Personal trainers/fitness instructors help people to improve their general fitness or to train for special events through individual programmes or classes.
Fitness instructors usually earn
$14-$35 per hour
Personal trainers usually earn
$25 -$35 per hour
Pay for personal trainers/fitness instructors varies depending on experience, their employer, and what type of contract they are on.
Group fitness instructors' work is almost all part-time
Group fitness instructors usually teach one or two classes a week in a gym and are paid between $30 and $50 a class, and combine this with other full-time or part-time work.
Fitness instructors usually work for a gym
- Fitness instructors working at an established fitness centre/gym usually earn between minimum wage and $17 an hour.
Personal trainers may work for a gym or in their own business
Personal trainers working for an established fitness centre/gym usually earn between $25 and $35 an hour.
Personal trainers who are self-employed, but rent space at a fitness centre/gym may charge $50 to $100 an hour, but have to pay their own expenses. Their total income depends on the success of their business.
Source: Fitness New Zealand, 2013
What you will do
Personal trainers/fitness instructors may do some or all the following:
- assess clients' fitness and body types and design fitness programmes for them
- explain and demonstrate exercises, weight training or class routines
- give advice on nutrition and preventing or recovering from injuries
- help out at the gym, which can involve cleaning and reception duties.
Personal trainers may also:
- market and promote their services
- discuss lifestyle and fitness goals with clients
- take clients for personal training sessions
- make bookings and keep accounts.
Skills and knowledge
Personal trainers/fitness instructors need to have:
- skill in physical education, personal training and testing people's fitness
- an understanding of anatomy and physiology
- knowledge of first aid
- knowledge of gym equipment and how to operate it correctly
- an understanding of how to prescribe and demonstrate safe and effective exercises
- knowledge of basic nutrition principles.
Personal trainers are often self-employed, so they need:
- sales skills
- the ability to develop and maintain their own client base
- business administration skills.
Group fitness instructors also need to know about choreography and leading exercise classes.
Personal trainers/fitness instructors:
- usually work shifts, including early mornings, evenings and weekends
- usually work in gyms, recreation centres and fitness centres
- may need to travel to meet clients.
What's the job really like?
Hayley Burtt - Fitness Consultant/Personal Trainer
Hayley Burtt works part-time as a fitness consultant and also runs her own personal training business.
Running your own personal training business sounds like a lot of work - is it?
"It is a tough industry. When I first started I would sometimes have a client at 6am, do a day shift as a fitness consultant and have maybe three clients in the evening. I was shattered by the end of the day.
"Since then I've shifted things around a little, and prioritised things like my own exercise and downtime to relax. You have to give 100 percent to every client, so energy is important."
What do you enjoy most about your work?
"As a fitness consultant, the rehabilitative stuff is pretty cool. It is great to help someone regain their strength following injury or surgery.
"With my personal clients, I really enjoy working one-on-one. I like seeing them get from point A to point B with their results. A lot of my clients are pretty determined. They work really hard and as a result have lost as much as 20 kilograms. When you see the weight shed off them, that's really cool."
(Video courtesy of Skills Active Aotearoa)
My name is Bryn Morgans.
So basically I work here at City Fitness Newmarket as a fitness manager and a personal trainer on the side. So basically, my role is to get personal trainers up and running and to get them moving on as quickly as possible.
As a personal trainer there is only so many people you can help so now as fitness manager the more people I can help that are gonna help other people means I’m having a benefit on everyone’s lifestyle, so it’s great.
How did I fit my study in?
So, like anything it all comes down to time management and one thing I’ve learned being a personal trainer and fitness manager is that it’s all about making sure you set aside time for everything rather than leaving everything to the last minute – what I used to do at school and, you know, have to cram for an exam or something like that which isn’t going to give you the best result possible.
By going through Skills Active and doing courses it’s allowed me to have a better understanding of everything and when I went and did my course down in Dunedin that was good but that was three plus years ago so it’s been good and allowed me to refresh my memory and now set some new goals and be a bit more determined and focused on where I’m planning on being over the next three to five years.
Over the next couple months I plan on becoming a regional manager so that I can oversee a few more clubs which allows me to have rather than twenty trainers, I’m now looking at over fifty and then from there I plan to become the Director of Fitness. Obviously there’s a few people in the line, but, you know, that’s my next progression and that means, you know, twenty to thirty clubs by then if not more. With those amount of PTs helping those amount of people is just something I can’t wait to achieve, so yeah.
"Creating a world of opportunity."
Although there are no specific requirements to become a personal trainer/fitness instructor, most employers require you to be registered with the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs).
To gain registration, you need:
- a qualification approved by REP
- either a first aid or CPR certificate, depending where you will be working.
REPs provides a list of their approved training providers.
Fitness instruction certificates, diplomas and degrees are available from polytechnics, universities and private training establishments.
Fitness New Zealand provides more information on what's involved in becoming a personal trainer or fitness instructor.
- Fitness New Zealand website - Your Guide To Starting Out as an Exercise Professional (PDF, 9 MB)
- An applied fitness student talks about their course (Video - 2.14 mins)
A minimum of NCEA Level 2 biology, science and physical education is recommended.
Personal trainers/fitness instructors need to be:
- patient, friendly, supportive and professional
- able to lead and motivate others
- organised and adaptable
- good at problem-solving
- good communicators.
Personal trainers also need to be able to sell themselves and their services to potential clients, and to build up and maintain a group of clients.
Useful experience for personal trainers/fitness instructors includes:
- sports training or coaching
- dance tuition
- work in areas such as nutrition, physiotherapy or physical education
- customer service work.
Personal trainers/fitness instructors need to be energetic, fit, healthy and strong, and have good co-ordination.
To gain registration with the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP), you need
- a qualification approved by REP
- a first aid or CPR certificate.
Find out more about trainingCheck out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of personal trainers/fitness instructors increased by about 20 percent between 2010 and 2012.
Increasing demand for personal trainers
Demand for the specialised role of personal trainer is good as an increasing number of people view personal training as a health essential and prefer the motivation and structure that personal training provides.
The growth of green prescriptions has also led to an increase in work for personal trainers. Green prescriptions are programmes provided by doctors to patients who require specialised fitness work to improve their health.
Most personal trainers/fitness instructors work at gyms and fitness clubs
Fitness instructors can work for:
- fitness centres/gyms
- fitness clubs.
Personal trainers can:
- work for fitness centres or gyms as an employee
- hire a space at a fitness centre/gym and work independently
- set up a business in their own premises
- become a franchise-holder with an existing franchise.
- Beddie, R, chief executive, Fitness New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2013.
- Fitness New Zealand, 'Your Guide To Starting Out as an Exercise Professional', accessed November 2013, www.fitness.co.nz.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- REPs website, accessed February 2013, (www.reps.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Fitness instructors may start out working for someone else before setting up their own business.
Fitness instructors often specialise in a type of fitness activity such as:
Some fitness instructors may also be qualified as personal trainers, who specialise in intensive health and fitness programmes for individual clients.
Last updated 16 June 2017