Becoming a Fitness Instructor

Becoming a Fitness Instructor
Understanding Fitness Certifications, Costs, and Ongoing Requirements in Canada
By Karyn Silenzi

By Karyn Silenzi

If you are reading this, you may be interested in becoming an instructor. At your studio or on the screen, the person leading your workout might be referred to as a motivator, a spin instructor, a coach, or even lovingly, ‘the devil’. Regardless of what you call them, the person on the main stage is a group fitness instructor. And in order to have that coveted position, they had to put in the work. And they did it for people just like you.


Most people working in the fitness industry have a passion for exercise, music, and leading groups of people in working together. Many instructors say there is a certain appeal to picking your own work hours, getting paid to work out, and being revered by members. However, to be a part of this dynamic industry, aspiring instructors need to know the steps to become a certified fitness professional.


Why should I become certified?


Most facilities require instructors and trainers to have a valid certification to teach live and virtual classes. To avoid certain liabilities and have personal insurance coverage, a valid certification is necessary. Fitness certifications provided in Canada include in-person or online learning, a theoretical exam, and a live practical exam. 

Amazing! One of my best life experiences. The workshop has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and do things I would never have done a year ago. There is so much community support and encouragement from everyone. As an older adult, learning is always challenging & Karyn makes it easy & simple to not only understand but also retain.

Whether you are 20 or 50, I would encourage anyone with a passion for fitness to take this course.”

Where can I get certified as a fitness instructor?


In Canada, the most recognized providers of group fitness certifications are canfitpro, NFLA, and YMCA Canada. These are typically not-for-profit organizations dedicated to setting and maintaining high standards of excellence in the advancement of exercise accreditation. 


What information will my group fitness instructor certification cover?


A basic group fitness instructor certification verifies the instructor has studied and successfully passed two exams, showing both theoretical and practical competency.


Instructors must demonstrate they have a basic understanding of human physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, movement application, injury recognition and prevention, musicality, cueing, and proper class design.


The live practical exam establishes competency in designing, communicating, and delivering this knowledge in a safe, effective, and efficient manner.


Beyond obtaining the base certification, instructors are encouraged to seek additional and complementary certificate programs. These are specific exercise modalities or distinct training techniques, such as cycling, Zumba®, barre, kettlebell, TRX®, and more. These do not certify instructors; they are continuing education certificate programs that support and enhance the group fitness instructor certification. 


How much does it cost to become a certified group fitness instructor?


While costs will vary between companies and provinces, you can expect to pay anywhere between $450-800 CAD for your initial certification. These fees include materials, exams, and membership. Additional fee services are available to assist individuals wanting to become certified.


Are there any additional requirements for becoming certified?


Certified instructors must provide proof of CPR training and be a member in good standing with the company they are certified through. Similar to other professional associations, there are annual or bi-annual Continuing Education requirements to remain certified as a group fitness instructor.


According to canfitpro, “Group fitness is a fun and inexpensive way for participants to increase physical activity while building community. It has seen a growth in popularity over the years and is showing no signs of slowing down, with a recent study indicating almost 40% of regular exercisers join group fitness classes. The industry needs more certified professionals to meet the demand for health clubs, community centres, gyms, and recreation facilities.”


You can hear more about “Why the Fitness Industry Needs You” as my canfitpro partner Jodie Boettger and I discuss both group fitness and personal training, including how virtual business is still booming.

Karyn Silenzi is a PRO TRAINER for canfitpro, certifying fitness professionals in both group fitness and personal training. Read her class testimonials and reviews here.

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to FitBizWeekly’s FREE newsletter for news, commentary, idea sharing and developments across the Canadian health and fitness industry.

By clicking on the Subscribe button you agree to be on our newsletter list. You can opt out anytime. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared and your email address will be stored safely.