How to Become a Group Exercise Instructor in 2022

We get it, fitness is your absolute, A1!

You have researched different group fitness and personal trainer certifications, and decide to focus solely on pursuing a group fitness certification.

Group fitness is your passion, and becoming a certified group exercise instructor is what you desire most.

Throughout this article, you will learn exactly what you’ll need to know on how to become a group exercise instructor, and more!

Topics covered include:

Steps to Become a Group Fitness Instructor
Top NCCA accredited programs
Purchasing and preparing for, and passing your certification exam
Applying for jobs

3, 2, 1… GO!

Steps to Become a Group Fitness Instructor

If you follow these steps, becoming a group fitness instructor is not difficult at all.

The first step is to choose your focus.

Your focus may include the following ideas:

  • Niche
  • Class formats
  • Where you want to work

Knowing your focus helps you to better determine which certification program is right for you.

And this is step two; choosing an NCCA accredited certification program.

There are many different ones to choose from, which can make things confusing.

But eventually, you will be able to narrow it down to the one that best suits you upon doing your research.

We will cover some of the top NCCA accredited programs in this article for you.

Step three includes purchasing and preparing for the exam.

Now that you have chosen a certification program, you’ll need the required books and study materials to prepare for the exam.

Read also: Top Nutrition Certifications

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These may be found on your certification program‘s website, but we will explore that in some detail here.

Step four is simply to pass your group fitness instructor certification exam.

Upon passing your final exam, you will obtain your official group fitness instructor certification.

And finally, step five is to start seeking employment in your field.

Now that you are a certified group fitness instructor, you may start applying for jobs.

Places of employment for group fitness instructors include the following:

  • Commercial gyms
  • Private studios
  • Online
  • Community health and fitness clubs
  • Independently

Remember NCCA?

The NCCA stands for the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

It is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring competency and high-quality service from fitness trainers and other sports medicine professionals.

Having an exam with NCCA accreditation will open up more doors and expand your career options!

Employers love it!

We will definitely touch base on places of employment toward the end!

First, let’s discuss some of the top NCCA accredited programs.

Learn more: How To Become A Personal Trainer

Top NCCA Accredited Programs

To obtain reputable group exercise certification and personal training certification, you must ensure that your training program is accredited by the NCCA.

These are the best group exercise certification programs with NCCA accreditation so far:

You will cover each program in full depth, and review the course content, study materials, required books and other resources, exams and exam costs, program costs, and more!

Also, we’ll touch upon some basic certification and education requirements, too!


So let’s start with the absolute best group exercise and fitness trainer certification program.

Please welcome to the stage, NASM!

NASM stands for the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

NASM is the most reputable exercise instructor certification.

There are many types of fitness certifications available from NASM, such as the following:

Each certification program has its own prerequisites, certification requirements, study materialsexam costsexam questions, and continuing education credits.

Let’s only zero in on NASM‘s group fitness instructor certification (AFAA-CGFI).

Students will have the option to complete their group fitness instructor training from home with NASM‘s self-study course!

Your instructor training is now available all online, and you may go at your own pace.

To launch your career in fitness instruction, check out NASM‘s Certified Group Fitness Instructor program. 

Students will need to pass the NCCA accredited certification exam in order to become certified.

Without a doubt, this exercise instructor certification program will have you ready to teach group classes in a safe and effective – and fun – way!

NASM‘s fitness instructor training program has been implemented to help students successfully prepare for and pass their certification exam.

When you finish your group fitness instructor’s initial training course, you will then be eligible to sit for the final exam.

You will have in-person and online options.

The NASM-CPT exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions.

In order to become certified as a group fitness instructor, you must score 70% or higher.

You are required to recertify your AFAA-CGFI certification every two years.

Click here for ways you may recertify, and stay on top of your required continuing education units!

An interesting read: Best Group Fitness Certifications


ACE is another top group fitness instructor certification program.

ACE stands for the American Council on Exercise, and has been training fitness professionals in a high-quality manner for many years!

You may earn your ACE American Council Group Fitness Instructor Certification online at your own pace.

In this NCCA accredited program, you will learn group fitness from an exercise science perspective to deliver the most incredible fitness classes.

Preparing for your exam is not difficult!

Check out ACE University and keep track of your coursework with American Council Exercise digital study experience!

You may access online learning modules, lecture videos, easy-to-understand reading assignments, and even practice certification exam questions.

Employers everywhere will definitely respect your ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification, especially because it has accreditation by the NCCA, which is the gold standard in the fitness industry.

Note that all ACE American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor Certification Study Programs is accredited by the NCCA.

In order to qualify for the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification Exam, you must fulfill all of the CPT requirements.

You must be 18 years of age, and have completed high school, or have a valid GED.

You must hold a current CPR/AED certification.

CPR AED Certification ensures a safe work environment.

You may find CPR AED courses here! (link to ARC)

And lastly, you’ll need a current, valid government-issued photo ID with your signature.

As an ACE certified group fitness instructor, you will now have access to resources, generous discounts on equipment, liability insurance, and much more!

To maintain your ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification, learn valuable new skills, and take any relevant continuing education unit courses available to you!

With ACE, and really any certification program, movement is versatile – and you can be too!

There’s BootcampPilatesbarreaerobicsLes Mills Group BODYPUMP, indoor cyclingkickboxingZumbagroup strength training, and more!

View the different types of group fitness classes you can instruct on the website!


ACSM, which stands for the American College of Sports Medicine, offers a comprehensive, self-studyCertified Group Exercise Instructor certification program.

As an American College Sports Group Exercise Instructor (ACSM-GEI), you will learn to teach, lead, and motivate small groups through carefully designed group exercise classes.

The small group training exercises are versatile, exercise science-based and are made to suit all different types of people and fitness levels.

Successful ACSM-GEIs have outstanding motivational and leadership skills and apply professional cueing techniques that help all group members achieve their fitness goals.

ACSM-GEIs provide safe and effective group fitness instruction across myriads of group class types and equipment sets.

Also, the ACSM Certified Group Exercise Instructor certification is accredited by the NCCA.

Preparing for your ACSM-GEI exam is quite simple.

Take advantage of the online practice certification exam questions, and attend workshops and webinars.

Review the ACSM study materials, books, online resources, and ACSM-GEI certification exam content outline blueprint.

Finally, in order to remain certified as an ACSM-GEI, please maintain your CEUs by taking in-person or online courses, volunteering, or attending workshops and webinars.

Know more about: The Best Fitness Certifications


The National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) provides students with extensive fitness education for certified personal trainers and group exercise instructors alike!

In this comprehensive group personal training certification programstudents will cover the following health fitness topics:

  • Anatomy, kinesiology, physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Verbal cues
  • Class choreography
  • Developing communication and music skills
  • Components of physical fitness

You will have two options.

Option one is NETA‘s Self Study and Live Workshop.

This comprehensive self-study certification program provides students with a live certification exam workshop.

It is highly recommended to prepare for the NETA certification exam by using the study materials and online resources provided.

Also, you will attend NETA’s one-day live Group Exercise Instructor Certification Review Workshop, which includes lectures and hands-on demonstrations.

Mostly all questions exams have will be covered throughout the course content and workshop.

Kindly note that if you prefer an online Group Exercise Certification program, does NETA provide one.

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Now you will have the option to register for NETA’s Group Exercise Instructor Certification Review Virtual Workshop, which includes about six hours of virtual lectures and discussions.

You are awarded six CECs.

On the other hand, option two is NETA‘s Premier Plus Group Exercise Instructor Study Package.

This NCCA accredited certification program is easy-to-understand, self-paced, and user-friendly!

The official Group Exercise Certification Exam is administered remotely with ProctorU.

Keep in mind that the NETA Group Exercise Instructor Certification is the primary foundation for trainers instructors to teach a diverse variety of exercise classes.

Upon earning NETA’s Group Exercise Instructor Certification, you will surely be ready to lead group classes such as Aqua, BarreBoot CampIndoor Cycling, Kettlebell, Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Pilates, Step, and Yoga.

NETA has been successfully certifying fitness professionals for over 40 years.

Upon completion and earning your NETA Group Exercise Instructor Certification, you will be more than prepared for a part-time or even a full-time job!

On a final note, NETA does provide liability insurance for group fitness instructors.

Feel free to check it out here!

Check this out: Top Strength and Conditioning Certifications


For over three decades, the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), has been successfully certifying group exercise instructors!

AFAA provides a hands-on and practical experience for students to thrive as they embark on becoming AFAA group fitness certified.

The AFAA Group Fitness Instructor (AFAA-GFI) certification exam is NCCA accredited.

You may opt for either of the following courses:

  • Basic
  • Self-Study
  • Premium Self-Study
  • All-Inclusive

To become an AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, you must pass your AFAA-GFI certification exam within 180 days of enrollment.


Jumpstart your career in the fitness industry with the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)!

You can become ISSA group fitness certified with ISSA’s Certified Group Exercise Instructor program.

This program is known to provide the most versatile group exercise instructor education when compared to other leading certification programs.

In less than six months, students will learn to teach group fitness in up to twelve formats.

So basically, you get 12 for the price of 1!

This certification course covers the following content:

  • Essential group fitness instruction skills
  • 12 different class formats, such as HIIT, bootcampcardio kickboxing, step aerobics, stretching, and strength conditioning
  • Safety and injury prevention
  • Exercise science
  • Designing group exercise classes for all fitness levels

The ISSA certification program is designed for people who already have very productive schedules.

Most students in the ISSA Group Exercise Instructor course will study for under two hours per day, so that they may finish in just 8-10 weeks!

Know more about Personal Trainer Salary


Make a difference in people’s lives when you become certified as a Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor with the American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA)!

You may now take ASFA’s NCCA accredited Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor certification all online at any time at your own pace.

In the ASFA programfitness professionals will upgrade their group fitness instruction skills, learn more about dynamics, form, and the fundamentals of exercise.

Upon completion of this certification programstudents will be able to design custom, safe and effective fitness classes for all different types of clients.

Students will sharpen their understanding of the components and any special considerations when designing indoor and outdoor boot camps.

Basic Bootcamp and fitness instruction methodology and form are heavily emphasized.

Nutrition is covered in this training course as well.

ASFA combines group fitness and Bootcamp into one comprehensive certification for your benefit!

The combined knowledge you will gain from this program will prepare you to become the best group instructor and stand out in the fitness industry!

Moreover, ASFA does offer a more advanced certification.

This is the Advanced Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor Certification.

You will cover content similar to the ASFA Group Fitness and BootcampInstructor Certification program.

ASFA understands fitness professionals want to maximize their time and client load, which is why the Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor Certification is offered online.

ASFA even offers other, specialized group fitness certifications, such as BarrePilates, Step Aerobics and Cardio Kickboxing, and more!

Read Next: Best Health Coach Certifications

Purchasing and Preparing For Your Exam

Once you have chosen the best group fitness instructor certification for you, you’ll need to purchase the required books and study materials to prepare for the exam.

Let’s look at some of the study materials and resources some of these programs have to offer!

For NASM, study materials include the following items:

  • Lecture Videos
  • Demo Videos
  • Exercise Videos
  • Cueing Videos
  • Infographics
  • Group class Planning Templates

As far as pricing, there are different options.

The Basic option costs $299.00, or $25.00 per month.

The Self Study costs $349.00, or $29.00 per month.

NASM‘s most popular fitness instructor program, the Premium Self Study, costs $419.00, or $36.00 per month.

The All-Inclusive Plus Virtual Coaching program costs $909.00, or $80.00 per month.

We also recommend that you check out our free NASM study guide and free NASM practice test here.

And, for those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our premium NASM MVP study system which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.

With ACE, you will have three distinct program options; Advantage, Plus, or Basic group instructor.

The Advantage is the most popular group exercise instruction certification.

Here are the study materials:

  • ACE University
  • ACE Answers
  • ACE Group Fitness Instruction Certification Exam
  • Practice certification exam questions
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (eBook)
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (Hardcopy)
  • Retest options
  • CECs

The ACE Advantage program costs $449.00, or $38.00 per month.

The ACE Plus group training certification is the second option, and the study materials include the following:

  • ACE University
  • ACE Answers
  • ACE Group Fitness Instruction Certification Exam
  • Practice certification exam questions
  • 2 Practice Exams
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (eBook)
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (Hardcopy)

The American Council Plus program costs $329.00.

Lastly, let’s cover the Basic group training program, which provides you with:

  • ACE University
  • ACE Answers
  • ACE Group Fitness Instruction Certification Exam
  • 1 Practice Test
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (eBook)

The ACE Basic program costs $224.00.

We also recommend that you check out our free ACE study guide and free ACE practice test here.

And, for those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our premium ACE MVP study system which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.

ACSM includes many helpful online resources, textbooks, videos, and online practice exam questions.

The ACSM-GEI certification exam costs and membership costs are fairly decent as well.

For instance, American College Sports Medicine members pay $239.00, whereas ACSM non-members pay $299.00.

If you have failed your final exam, you can pay a $155.00 fee to retake it.

We also recommend that you check out our free ACSM study guide and free ACSM practice test here.

And, for those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our premium ACSM MVP study system which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.

Recommended study materials for NETA’s Self-Study group fitness training program include the following books:

  • NETA’s The Fitness Professional’s Manual, 5th Edition
  • NETA’s The Fitness Professional’s Workbook For Group Fitness Instructors
  • Group Exercise Online Review Modules

This program costs $299.00 for Early Birds and $349.00 for Standard.

Your NETA Premier Plus study package includes the following items:

  • Group Exercise Certification Exam
  • Group Exercise Online Review Modules
  • NETA‘s required textbooks
  • Practice certification exam
  • Limitless support throughout your course
  • $10.00 toward your first NETA CEC course

This program costs $299.00.

But when you pay $50.00 more, you may upgrade to NETA‘s Live Online Virtual Workshop, which includes all textbooks and workbooks, a practice certification exam, and online modules.

Now let’s move forward with AFAA.

The Basic is a self-paced program that provides students with a group fitness digital book/study guide, the official certification exam, lecture videos, virtual exercise libraries, practice certification exams, and 24/7 online support.

It costs $299.00, and you do have the option to add your CPR AED cert. at a discounted rate.

AFAA‘s Self-Study program is very flexible, and students will also get a virtual issue of the American Fitness magazine.

Study materials include learning modules, flashcards, and a job guarantee.

The AFAA Self-Study program costs $349.00, and you also have the option here to add your CPR AED cert. at a discounted rate.

AFAA‘s Premium Self-Study program is similar to the Self-Study program but includes the AFAA national certification exam retest.

You will also get the Group Fitness Instructor hardcover textbook, and have access to fitness experts.

You pay $419.00 for this program, and, just like the others, you may add your CPR AED cert. at a discounted rate.

Want to be certified for a lifetime as an AFAA-GFI?

Then without a doubt, AFAA‘s All-Inclusive program will suit you best!

This program includes all of the AFAA Premium Self-Study resources PLUS lifetime recertification.

It costs $909.00, and you can add your CPR AED at a discounted rate if you choose to.

Getting certified by ISSA?

To study for your exam, it is strongly recommended to read through ISSA’s online Group Fitness course textbook.

The ISSA Group Fitness textbook covers everything you’ll need to know to become a successful, effective fitness instructor.

ISSA offers multiple online practice certification exams and quizzes to prepare you well for your final exam and work as a group exercise instructor.

The final Group Exercise Instructor ISSA exam is untimed, open-book, and because it is online, it may be taken from anywhere – including your bed!

If at first, you don’t succeed, you CAN try again, with ISSA’s retake certification exam.

Also, you may want to take advantage of ISSA’s Certification Accreditation BONUS final exam.

The total price of ISSA’s Group Exercise Instructor program is $399.50.

However, you may opt for the following alternative payment plans:

  • 12 monthly payments of $33.29
  • 6 monthly payments of $66.58
  • 1 payment of $399.50
  • No payments for the first month

And, for those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our premium ISSA MVP study system which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.

Studying for your ASFA Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor certification is simple with these recommended study materials:

  • Methods of Group Exercise Instruction
  • A Professional’s Guide to Small-Group Personal Training
  • Fitness Professional‘s Handbook
  • Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy

You only have to pay for this program if you pass your final certification exam.

Also, there are three types of certificates you may earn.

The first certification lasts for one year and costs $149.00.

The second certification comes with a pocket certification card, lasts for one year, and costs $175.00.

And last, the third certification comes with a pocket certification card and a lifetime renewal.

It costs $499.00.

To ensure that you pass your Advanced Group Fitness and Bootcamp Instructor certification exam, please consider using the recommended study materials:

  • Methods of Group Exercise Instruction
  • A Professional’s Guide to Small-Group Personal Training
  • Fitness Professional‘s Handbook
  • Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy
  • Delavier’s Core Training Anatomy
  • Stronger Abs and Back

Similarly, you only have to pay for this program if you pass.

Below, the three types of certificates you may earn, and pricing is discussed.

The first certification lasts for one year and costs $199.00.

The second certification comes with a pocket certification card, lasts for one year, and costs $225.00.

And last, the third certification comes with a pocket certification card and a lifetime renewal, which costs $599.00.

Read this: Personal Trainer Certifications

Applying For Jobs


You passed your group fitness instructor final exam and will now obtain official certification.

Are group fitness instructors in demand?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is an outstanding demand for versatile Group Exercise Instructors.

As more and more people start to realize the importance of maintaining health and physical fitness, group fitness instructors are always needed.

Also, there are many different places of employment for fitness instructors.

Here are some common ones:

  • Commercial gyms
  • Private studios
  • Community health and fitness clubs
  • Online
  • Independently

Now that you are a certified group instructor, you may start applying for jobs!

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The average salary for group fitness instructors in the United States falls between $31,358 and $59,590.

However, factors such as experience, education, years in the field, other certifications and skills, location, and place of employment will definitely influence your pay.

Do some research on some companies you may want to work for, whether they be commercial gyms, private studios, or community health and fitness clubs.

If you want to, you can work independently.

Most instructors gain experience in gyms, studios, or facilities first.

You have the option to become an online, or “virtual” group fitness instructor.

Also, you may run your own outdoor boot camps or small group classes from your home gym.

Sky’s the limit!

One more thing – make your presence as a group fitness instructor known!

In order to be a successful group fitness instructor, you’ll want others to be familiar with who you are and what you do.

Interact with others in the fitness community, network on social media, build rapport, and make connections with your coworkers and members (if working in a gym or club setting).

Do not miss: Best Exercise Science Careers

Steps to Become a Group Exercise Instructor Roundup

Step 1: Find your focusStep 2: Choose an NCCA accredited programStep 3. Purchase and prepare for your examStep 4. Pass your exam5. Apply for jobs
1. Niche
2. Class formats
3. Where you want to work
Check programs such as:
2. ACE
Costs for study materials and exam fees vary by program.Register for your exam.Research some common places of employment, such as:
1. Commercial gyms
2. Private studios
3. Online
4. Community health and fitness clubs
5. Independently
Research.Research.Take full advantage of online resources and practice certification exam questions, too.Take your exam.See which best fits you.
Find the corresponding certifications and prerequisites needed for your desired niche, class format, and workplace.Choose your group exercise instructor certification program.Only register for your exam when you are ready to take it.Pass you exam.

*If you failed your exam the first time, refer to your certification program's retake policy.*
Proceed to Step 2.Proceed to Step 3.Proceed to Step 4.Only upon passing, you will receive certification, and may proceed to Step 5.Congratulations! May you have an outstanding career as a group exercise instructor!



Upon reading this article, you should be more confident in pursuing your career as a group fitness instructor.

First, identify your focus.

Who do you want to work with and why?

Then, do some research and choose an NCCA accredited certification program that best suits you.

All programs are offered online and are self-paced for your convenience.

Upon choosing your certification program, please be sure to review for your final exam.

You’ll need to purchase the required and recommended study materials, and access any other resources in-person or online, to ensure you pass your exam.

Prepare for your group fitness instructor exam certification by studying and reviewing all appropriate materials.

Give yourself ample time.

Studying for your group fitness training certification exam does not have to be difficult.

If your pass your final exam, you will receive your official certification.

If you fail, you can retake your exam, but you will not get certified until you pass.

After you pass your exam and become certified as a group fitness instructor, you may start applying for jobs.

Explore some employment options that you may be interested in.

See the source image

Expand your career as a fitness instructor by establishing a good rapport and making connections with those around you.

Ready to become the best group fitness instructor?

3, 2, 1… AND GO!

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