Your PT Career

Personal Trainer / ​Fitness Instructor

(Kaiwhakangungu Tinana/​Kaiwhakaako Whakapakari)

The following information is sourced from:

Personal trainers/fitness instructors help people improve their general fitness or train for special events or fitness goals through individual programmes or classes.

Personal requirements

Personal trainers/fitness instructors need to be:

  • patient, friendly, supportive and professional
  • able to lead and motivate others
  • organised and adaptable
  • good at problem solving
  • good communicators.

You have to be motivated to do stuff that’s not so much fun – like tax, social media, advertising. It’s hard work, but if you have the right support you can really make a go of it.


Pay for personal trainers/fitness instructors varies depending on experience, the type of work they do, and if they are self-employed.

  • Fitness instructors usually earn between minimum wage and $25 an hour.
  • Group fitness instructors can earn between $30 and $50 an hour.
  • Personal trainers usually earn between $25 and $35 an hour.
  • Self-employed personal trainers can earn between $50 and $100 an hour, but their total income depends on the success of their business.

Source: Exercise Association of New Zealand, 2018.

What you will do

Personal trainers/fitness instructors may do some or all the following:

  • assess clients' fitness and body types and design fitness programmes for them
  • explain and demonstrate exercises, weight training or class routines
  • give advice on nutrition and preventing or recovering from injuries
  • help out at the gym, which can involve cleaning and reception duties.

Personal trainers may also:

  • market and promote their services
  • discuss lifestyle and fitness goals with clients
  • take clients for personal training sessions
  • make bookings and keep accounts.

Skills and knowledge

Personal trainers/fitness instructors need to have:

  • skill in physical education, personal training and testing people's fitness
  • an understanding of anatomy and physiology
  • knowledge of first aid
  • knowledge of gym equipment and how to operate it correctly
  • an understanding of how to prescribe and demonstrate safe and effective exercises
  • knowledge of basic nutrition principles.

Personal trainers are often self-employed, so they need to have:

  • sales skills
  • the ability to develop and maintain their own client base
  • business administration skills.

Group fitness instructors also need to have knowledge of choreography and how to lead exercise classes.

Working conditions

Personal trainers/fitness instructors:

  • usually work shifts, including early mornings, evenings and weekends
  • usually work in gyms, recreation centres and fitness centres
  • may need to travel to meet clients.

How to enter the job

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a personal trainer/fitness instructor.  However, many employers prefer to hire personal trainers/fitness instructors who have, or are working towards, a qualification. A range of personal trainer/fitness instructor qualifications are available from polytechnics, universities and private training establishments.

You can also complete a personal trainer/fitness instructor apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Fitness (Level 3 or Level 4). Industry training organisation Skills Active Aotearoa oversees personal trainer/fitness instructor training and apprenticeships.

Most employers require you to be registered with the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs).

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but biology, health education and physical education to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.