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How do I get an Aerobics Instructor Certification?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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There are three steps required to get aerobics instructor certification: instructor training, aerobics class experience, and successful completion of the certification examination. Aerobics classes are fitness classes that are focused on increasing the heart rate of the participants. These classes are typically available from community or fitness centers. There are a wide range of class types, but they are all designed to increase the heart rate.

People who want to get aerobics instructor certification have usually been working the physical fitness industry for several years and enjoy working with people. Certification is granted by several organizations, but the most widely recognized is the National Association for Fitness Certification (NAFC). This certification is required to obtain insurance coverage as an aerobics or fitness trainer.

The first step toward getting certified as an aerobics instructor is to complete an instructor training program. The length and complexity of the program varies widely. Look for courses that cover both the physiology of exercise as well as recommended exercises. As part of the program, look for courses in public speaking, leadership, and voice projection.

There is a minimum amount of experience required before you are eligible to write the aerobics instructor certification examination, which varies depending upon the certification agency. This must be verifiable aerobics instruction, supervised by a certified aerobics instructor. Most candidates complete this experience requirement through a paid position as an aerobics instructor. The courses should be varied, accessing all the different client groups and types of aerobic exercise.

The aerobics instructor certification examination is a computerized multiple choice exam. Many schools offer aerobic instructor preparation courses and seminars to help students prepare for this exam. Look at the study preparation courses available to you and select the one that will work best for you, based on your personal learning style.

Upon successful completion of the aerobics instructor certification, candidates are able to work as independent contractors, providing aerobic classes to a wide range of fitness and community centers. This certification is often a stepping stone to fitness center management, physical therapy, or a physiology program. There is no age restriction on this certification, and many high school students find this is a great part-time job.

Career advancement opportunities for aerobics instructors are rather limited. Most people use this certification to find a moonlighting or part-time jobs. Alternately, he or she can move into management, organizing staff and working with clients directly. The salary in this job is quite low, so an alternate career is generally recommended.

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Discussion Comments
By anon316757 — On Jan 30, 2013

If you're an independent contractor as an aerobic instructor for a health club and no one showed up for class, do you still get paid?

By anon258869 — On Apr 03, 2012

Nurses (at least in the UK) split their training between university and hospital placements. They need to be able to pass the essays and the placements or they will fail.

By indemnifyme — On Oct 01, 2011

@Monika - A lot of certifications are give just based on written exams. I'm pretty sure nurses just take a written exam. But a lot of their job is hands on!

I think the thing you're forgetting is that people have to qualify in order to take these certification exams. So anyone taking an aerobics instruction certification exam already has hands on experience!

By Monika — On Sep 30, 2011

It seems really weird that an exam for aerobics instructor certification is done by multiple choice. I think an including a "practical" portion where the instructor leads a class in the exam would be a good idea too.

How can you tell if someone is really qualified to teach a class unless you actually see them do it. Someone might know about aerobic exercise, but be totally unable to actually lead a class. How can you know that just from a written exam?

By Moldova — On Sep 29, 2011

@SarahSon-I know I am dating myself, but back in the 80’s it seemed like the only aerobics certifications available were the step aerobics instructor certifications. Now there are all sorts of certifications for aerobics instructors.

There's spinning, Zumba, water aerobics and all sorts of circuit training certifications. It really makes the job more fun because the exercise programs are always changing so you can never get bored with just teaching one form of exercise.

I also think that the demand for people that can conduct these classes has to be high because every time I have gone to any of these classes the classes have always been full.

I bet this would be a good part time business for someone that can develop a following. I used to know a lady that owned a Jazzercise franchise and she did well with her business.

I am sure a nationally certified instructor could follow a similar business model and make a lot more money than working at a gym. I know that those people that go further in the fitness industry and obtain a personal training certificate earn about $50 per hour for part time work.

By bagley79 — On Sep 28, 2011

In my experience, most personal trainers get paid more than aerobics instructors. My son doesn't mind paying for a personal trainer when he wants to work on a new exercise routine.

He has even thought about completing a personal trainer course just so he will have more knowledge of what is involved - mostly for his own personal use.

I have known some fitness professionals who really have a lot of knowledge and the information and tips they share are very helpful.

On the other hand, I have also come across some instructors that really don't have a lot of general knowledge, but are mostly trained on just one aspect of fitness.

By SarahSon — On Sep 27, 2011

My daughter in law is a certified aerobics instructor. This was the first physical fitness certification she received. Since then, she has gone on to also get a fitness trainer certification.

She got involved with this because she loves to exercise and was spending quite a bit of time at the gym.

Since she teaches classes there now, she gets her membership free and gets paid to teach classes, but she doesn't make a whole lot of money.

It is something that she really enjoys doing and figures she can at least get some compensation back out of it.

By MissDaphne — On Sep 26, 2011

@Kat919 - I have a friend who does this, too. Does your sister have just the standard group fitness certification, or does she have some of specialties? My friend does some personal training, which she likes because she gets to work with people one-on-one, and she also has some specialties like water aerobics instructor certification. (She likes that one a lot because she enjoys working with older people.)

Lately, she had to get Zumba because that's all the rage - there's so much demand for it, her gym needed just about all the instructors to get it!

By Kat919 — On Sep 26, 2011

It's definitely just a sideline, but fitness instructor certification can be a nice gig for people who have the coordination, the rhythm, etc. My sister has been doing this since she was in college. She gets free gym membership - of course, most of her exercise comes from teaching the classes - a little extra spending money, and a big discount of the gym's childcare while she's teaching.

Now me, I would be going the wrong direction all the time! But she's perfect for it. One of those super-perky types whose ponytail is always tidy!

She says that you really do need to have a strong understanding of exercise physiology because clients will ask you all sorts of questions. They may have particular health concerns for which they want to modify the routines, or you may have clients who are pregnant and want to know what's safe, etc.

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