Though exercise is necessary for health and well-being, many do not bother with it because of the time and effort required. Group fitness instructors can turn physical activity into an enjoyable social experience by demonstrating moves and motivating participants. They earn their pay by making fitness a regular part of their students’ lives.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fitness instructors averaged $17.38 per hour or $36,150 per year as of May 2011. However, this average takes into account all exercise specialists including personal trainers who worked only with individuals. For wages specific to those who handle groups, the American Council on Exercise states that full-time instructors earned a mean $23.50 per hour or $47,659 per year as of 2010. Part-timers made a mean $24.49 per hour or $12,451 per year, averaging 10.41 hours per week.
Salaries for group fitness instructors vary according to location. The region with the highest pay for full-time professionals was the Northeast at $25.97 per hour or $52,767 per year. Wages for part-time instructors averaged $25.34 per hour or $12,779 per year for 10.64 hours of work per week. This area comprised several states, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The region with the best pay for part-time instructors was the Southwest, made up of states including California, Nevada and Arizona. Mean wages ran $26.30 per hour or $13,962 per year for 10.47 hours of work per week. Full-time wages averaged $24.09 per hour or $49,870 per year.
Higher educational levels make for better average salaries. Though it did not have sufficient data for full-time instructors with high school diplomas, the ACE salary survey revealed that group fitness instructors with some college training or an associate degree earned an average of $20.95 per hour or $42,617 per year. Those with bachelor’s degrees made $21.02 per hour or $43,746 per year, and those with master’s degrees received $27.17 per hour or $54,137 per year. For part-time workers, those with high school diplomas made an average $20.45 per hour or $12,094 per year for 12.45 hours of work per week. An associate degree granted $22.11 per hour or $12,443 per year for 11.31 hours per week, and a bachelor’s produced $24.58 per hour or $12,403 per year for 10.73 hours per week. A master’s degree put average part-time wages at $27.41 per hour or $12,717 per year for 9.14 hours of work per week.
The BLS sees jobs for all fitness instructors, including those who work with groups, increasing by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is far faster than the 14 percent rate predicted for all other occupations in all industries. Many businesses are offering their employees incentives to exercise because it is a cheaper alternative to medical treatment and sick days off. In addition, a growing and aging population is using fitness to remain healthier longer and to maintain weight. The best opportunities will be for instructors who have professional certification and higher levels of formal education.