Fitness and Health Consultant and Instructor

Fitness and health consultants assess the physical health and fitness levels of clients and, on the basis of this assessment, offer advice on lifestyle changes to improve fitness, general health and well-being.

Fitness instructors help people improve to their general fitness or train for special events, through individual programmes or classes.

At the initial evaluation, fitness and health consultants will conduct physical tests such as measurement of pulse, heart rate and weight.

Fitness consultants also evaluate the client’s general state of well-being by inquiring into such matters as stress, eating habits, illnesses and physical activity. Following this, a lifestyle plan is then recommended for the client which addresses aspects such as diet, an exercise programme and stress management.

Fitness instructors may do some or all the following: discuss lifestyle and fitness goals with fitness centre members; assess members’ fitness and body types; design fitness classes or individual fitness programmes; explain and demonstrate exercises, weight training or class routines; take clients for personal training sessions; supervise fitness centre members to ensure exercises are done safely and using the correct technique; give advice on preventing or recovering from injuries; give basic nutritional and lifestyle advice; lead fitness classes; cleaning and tidying duties; reception and clerical duties.

Fitness workers instruct or coach groups or individuals in various exercise activities. Because gyms and health clubs offer a variety of exercise activities such as weight-lifting, yoga, aerobics and karate, fitness workers typically specialise in only a few areas.

Fitness trainers help clients to assess their level of physical fitness and help them to set and reach fitness goals. They also demonstrate various exercises and help clients to improve their exercise techniques. They may keep records of their clients’ exercise sessions in order to assess their progress towards physical fitness.

Fitness instructors may also specialise in areas such as physiotherapy, nutrition or massage. Fitness instructors need to know about: anatomy and physiology; health and fitness; first aid; fitness assessment techniques; how to use gym equipment; how to prescribe and demonstrate safe, effective exercises and routines; basic nutrition principles.

Equipment fitness instructors work on: fitness and body composition testing equipment including stationary cycles, scales, tape measures and heart rate monitors; gym equipment and weights; office equipment; and stereos or tape recorders.

Fitness instructors work in gyms, recreation centres and fitness centres. Conditions at fitness centres and gyms vary, and can be noisy and crowded at times. Some fitness instructors do freelance work which may involve local travel to different fitness centres or outdoor training venues. Travel may also be required to attend training.

Most fitness instructors do shift work. They may work early mornings, evenings and weekends. Fitness instructors have contact with the public, fitness centre members and other fitness centre staff.

Fitness directors oversee the operations of a health club or fitness centre. Their work involves creating and maintaining programmes that meet the needs of the club’s members.

Many fitness workers become personal trainers, in addition to their main job in a fitness centre, or as a full-time job. Some workers go into business for themselves and open up their own fitness centres.

Personal trainers work with clients on a one-on-one basis in either a gym or the client’s home. As personal trainers often work as self-employed contractors, they need sales skills and the ability to develop and maintain their own client base. Business administrative skills are thus also useful.

Personal Requirements

  • patient, friendly and supportive
  • self-motivated and able to lead and motivate others
  • professional and having good judgement
  • organised, patient and adaptable
  • energetic, fit, healthy and strong
  • good coordination and a clear voice

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

No specific high school requirements are necessary to enter this career, however, it is recommended that you go as far as you can at school

What to Study

Universities offering courses in Biokinetics, Exercise Science and Human Movement Science are: NWU, UP, UV, UCT, RU, UZ, UFS, NMMU, UJ, US, UWC, Wits.

Universities of Technology offering courses in Sport Management - TUT, CPUT, CUT, DUT, VUT.

Various courses can be undertaken at academies for trainers. Many skills are gained through further training on the job, and fitness instructors also attend workshops and courses to keep their skills up to date. Registered fitness instructors are required to continue their education by participating in approved education programmes.

As is the case in many fields, managerial skills are needed to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. College courses in management, business administration, accounting and personnel management are helpful for advancement to supervisory or managerial jobs.

An increasing number of employers require fitness instructors to have a bachelor degree in a field related to health or fitness, such as exercise science or physical education. Some employers allow workers to substitute a college degree for certification, while others require both a degree and certification.

A bachelor degree and, in some cases, a masters degree in exercise science, physical education, or a related area, along with experience, is usually required for advancement to management positions in a health club or fitness centre.


  • private gymnasiums
  • gymnasium and health centre chains
  • universities and universities of technology
  • large organisations
  • self-employment - some aerobics instructors do freelance work or work from home and others have their own gyms

Biokinetics Association of SAP O Box 39051 Garsfontein East, 0060Tel: (079) 509-9556   Fax: 086 519

Further Information

Exercise Teachers’ Academy
WPCC, Ave de Mist,
Rondebosch, 7700 
Tel: (021) 671-1060

Biokinetics Association of SA
Office No 18, Norma Jean Square
244 Jean Avenue, Centurion (Lyttleton)
Tel: (012) 644-1506

Getting Started

  • make an appointment to talk to a fitness and health consultant or fitness instructor and watch them at work
  • attend fitness classes and ensure that you are very fit yourself
  • useful experience for fitness instructors includes: recreation instructing; sports training or coaching; dance tuition; working in areas such as nutrition, physiotherapy or physical education; and customer service work.

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

Study Exercise Science at Wits

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