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  • 7 Simple Steps to Start Your Career as a Group Fitness Instructor

How to Become A
Group Fitness Instructor

The rise in popularity of group fitness, which attracts more than 22.1 million people annually, has created vast changes in both the industry itself and the ways in which group fitness is delivered. Demand for talented, versatile group fitness instructors has exploded, making this the perfect time to get started on your professional journey. Follow these seven steps and you’ll be off and running.

1. Do Your Research

National Commission for Certifying Agencies LogoBe sure to consider NCCA accreditation, the gold standard in health and fitness

Planning for a career in health and fitness is an investment of your time and resources, so it’s critical to choose wisely. Certification options abound, but quickly diminish when you narrow your scope to accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Considered the gold standard in health and fitness, NCCA accreditation ensures programs from a wide range of industries meet defined standards of excellence for performing a specific job. It’s also the standard recognized by leaders (and employers) in fitness and medical communities. The ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification, along with our Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Medical Exercise Specialist certifications, is accredited by the NCCA. To learn more about pre-requisite requirements for each, check out our Certification Handbook.



2. Choose A Study Program

How to decide which type of program is right for you

Certification providers typically offer plans that vary based on how much guidance they provide to candidates. For example, ACE offers three study experiences: Pro Advantage, Pro Plus and Pro Essentials. Pro Advantage builds on what’s provided in Pro Plus by delving deeper into the core concepts of group fitness instruction, bringing them to life with engaging videos, podcasts, expert-led webinars and interactive learning activities. Preparation for an ACE exam, however, is self-paced and can be completed with either study experience. To prepare for the Group Fitness Instructor Certification exam, candidates typically invest 80-100 hours of self-paced study time, usually spread over 3-4 months, depending on their background, experience and available time. ACE is with you every step of the way as you prepare for your Group Fitness Instructor Certification exam. We’ll give you direct access to our ACE Resource Center Experts and the ACE Study Center on Facebook.

3. Register For Your Exam

Learn more about exam requirements and pre-requisites

Costs associated with registering for the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification Exam are included in both of our study program options. You are required to register for your exam within 6 months after purchasing your materials (though you can select an exam date beyond that deadline). Prior to registering, make sure you meet all pre-requisite requirements for your exam, which include holding a current CPR/AED certification with live skills check.

4. Pass Your Exam

And get exclusive access to career-boosting resources

Once you pass your exam you will officially be an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, ready to start a career. As an ACE Certified Pro, you’ll gain access to exclusive resources aimed at helping you launch your career, including professional discounts on equipment, ACE apparel, liability insurance and a wide range of other products. You’ll also receive your certificate and a wallet ID card in the mail that will make it easy to verify your credentials to potential clients and employers.

5. Choose A Career Path and Look For Jobs

ACE provides you with several resources to get your career started

Several factors contribute to finding the right position. First, determine which environment appeals to you (a health and fitness club, specialty studio, medical fitness facility, or venturing out on your own) and where. It may help to check out our salary report to find out what ACE Certified Pros are making nationwide. Whichever career path you pursue, ACE has a number of tools to help you get started. Some of the top fitness clubs in the country have guaranteed interviews for ACE Certified Professionals who apply for qualifying positions, and others have instituted discount programs for equipment, liability insurance and more. Identifying yourself as an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor at 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Town Sports International, Koko FitClub and Crunch will get you in the door for an interview for any qualifying position at those facilities. For more information on these benefits, visit Pro Resources or log in to your My ACE Account once you earn your certification.

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6. Define Your Specialty

How to carve out a niche for yourself in the marketplace

It’s important to remember that you can’t be everything to everyone, no matter how great you are at your craft. To identify where you fit in best, consider the needs of your community, what you’re most passionate about and your preferred training style. To differentiate yourself, you may need additional education and credentials. To meet this need, ACE has created a series of Specialist Programs to help you focus your expertise in areas like sports conditioning, fitness nutrition, weight management and behavior change.

7. Maintain Your Certification

Keep up with continuing education to boost your knowledge and expertise

In order to maintain a current certification, ACE Professionals (and others in the industry) are required to earn 20 hours of continuing education credits (2.0 CECs) every two years. Establishing and enforcing that standard helps us ensure that professionals continue to build their expertise and become more effective agents of healthy change. To fulfill those renewal requirements, ACE offers a variety of opportunities.



As you start your career, you’re likely to have more questions. We recommend finding a mentor who can help answer questions and provide guidance through challenges. Our ACE team is also here to help. Feel free to give us a call at (888) 825-3636, ext. 782.