Officially a fitness instructor

Level 2 Fitness Instructor

Back in April, I wrote a post about how I passed my practical exam for the Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification. The only thing standing between me and becoming an official Level 2 certified instructor was two written exams. I’m pleased to announce that I passed both and I have now officially attained my certificate!

Why did I do my Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification?

I have thought about doing a fitness qualification for a long time. I started investigating it years ago, particularly when I was having a bad day at work and lusting after different career opportunities. Since then, I’ve changed jobs and I now work at a PR agency that specialises in health and fitness. One of the benefits of joining this agency is that they offered the opportunity to train for my Level 2 fitness instructor qualification and since it’s something I always wanted to do, I jumped at the chance.

Level 2 Fitness Instructor

Proof I passed!

Was it hard?

Yes! I thought so. For someone who hasn’t studied for anything since University, I found this whole process challenging. I think there is a perception that getting qualifications in fitness instructing and personal training is easy. However it requires a considerable amount of time and effort. Not only did I spend 20+ hours in a gym learning the practical side of fitness instructing, I also probably spent more than 20 additional hours studying for the two exams.

I made extensive notes. I drew (bad) diagrams of the human body. I wrote several practice exams. I even made up weird songs and acronyms to remember things like the way blood flows into the heart and how air flows into the body. I also learned that I’m not the only one making up strange songs to remember bodily functions. I found this one on YouTube to the tune of the Fresh Prince theme song.

I dreaded studying in University and I approached studying for these two exams with a similar degree of trepidation. But when I got into it, I actually didn’t mind studying that much. It took a while to get through the material, I enjoyed everything except for the circulatory system. That was SO hard to remember!
fitness instructor certification

They highly recommend a glass of red wine to help get the academic juices flowing…

What is the exam like?

In addition to the practical exam which I did back in April, the qualification involves several small assignments based on readings from the course manual and two multiple choice exams. One is on anatomy and the other is on principles of exercise programming. Anatomy is definitely the more challenging exam. A pass on the exam was 70% or higher.

I anticipated much of the studying to be rote memorisation. But I was surprised how much I actually retained and how much I still think about today, even though the exam was a couple weeks ago. For example, I met my friend’s new baby recently and I caught myself thinking about how a baby’s spine is just one single curve and as it grows, it will eventually develop four curves like that of a normal adult spine. I was also thinking about the energy systems of the body in Parkrun and how my body was perhaps using the creatine phosphate system for my final sprint finish. So basically, I am a giant nerd now.

What does Level 2 Fitness Instructing qualify you to do?

Level 2 on its own doesn’t really qualify you to do very much. It’s the foundation qualification you need to do for more advanced things like Personal Training or Nutrition qualifications. On its own, Level 2 qualifies you to:

  • Give gym inductions to new members if you work at a gym
  • Write basic exercise programmes for people to do on their own
  • Provide basic nutrition advice
  • Oversee the use of machines in a gym
  • Lead group fitness classes

To offer one-on-one sessions or provide nutrition programmes, you need further qualifications… something I may consider down the road.

fitness instructor manual

What’s next?

I’ve been doling out advice on this blog for more than six years so hopefully that now comes with a bit of credibility! Other than that, I would love to do some further qualifications like nutrition or exercise to music.

Overall, I’ve come away from this training with a huge amount of respect for the human body. At more than 50% water, I used to think the human body was basically a cucumber with anxiety. But we take a lot of our body’s day-to-day functions for granted. Our body is doing remarkably complex things every second. I think about these things all the time when I’m working out now and generally marvel at the complexity and awesomeness of it all. The human body is definitely not a cucumber.

Big thanks to Sideways8 for putting me through the Level 2 training!


  1. April Cunningham October 5, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    “So basically, I am a giant nerd now.” This is awesome! It must have been fascinating. Congrats!

  2. Max April 9, 2021 / 7:40 pm

    I know this is late, but better late than never.
    Congratulations on becoming a fitness instructor!
    Where can I follow up on how life as a fitness trainer has treated you?

    • thoughtsandpavement April 10, 2021 / 7:46 am

      Life had taken some unexpected turns. If you check out my most recent post, that will help explain things. It relates to running but also applies to fitness instructing too. The pandemic also made it difficult for a new instructor. I never landed a regular instructing job before gyms and group exercise were forced to shut down. But I’ll pick it back up again one day…

  3. Shaun April 28, 2022 / 12:05 am

    Congratulations on passing!
    Question? Did you have to do the programme plan assignment? Was it a separate part of the course to the practical elements? Thanks

    • thoughtsandpavement April 28, 2022 / 1:08 pm

      Thanks so much! In order to officially become an instructor I had to teach a full class of at least 6 people and record it and then submit it for assessment. This was after the initial training weekend and several weeks of team-teaching with qualified instructors. (Honestly the most stressful thing I did, but the BEST experience ever and all the instructors were SO kind and encouraging). I didn’t have to do any other assignments. This was in 2019, so perhaps the requirements have changed now? If you login to the instructor portal, it should be clear what the requirements are. Good luck!

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