group exercise

2019 – The year of the Group Exercise Instructor

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We chat to Michaela Scowen from EMD UK about why 2019 is a great year for group exercise instructors and why more people should consider joining the workforce

In recent years, fitness has boomed. Group exercise specifically has grown by one million participants since 2016 alone, with nearly five million people taking part in group exercise classes every week. EMD UK, the national governing body for group exercise, as at the forefront of the industry, training the next generation of fitness instructors and supporting those already in the industry.

Today we sit down with Michaela Scowen, Academy Manager at EMD UK, to discuss how building a career in group exercise is a smart move for those passionate about health and fitness.

Group exercise is on the rise and increasingly popular, why is that?

Group exercise covers so many different types of classes meaning there really is something for everyone. Unlike other sports and activities, you don’t have to be the best to participate; it’s about turning up, having fun and a good workout. With the rise in technology connecting us to each other virtually, there’s still an innate need to connect to each other in person as well. We’re social beings so exercising in a supportive group helps the feeling of a sense of belonging. As an instructor your role is to deliver safe and effective classes that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their ability. The working hours can suit your lifestyle, whether you are studying, managing home life and children or have a full-time job, and you can take your time to build a strong business in your local community.

How has group exercise changed over the years?

Long gone are the days of your standard aerobics class. Whilst there is still a place and need for these types of classes, the market has greatly expanded. With the ever-increasing number of group exercise styles, the opportunity to engage the 11m inactive Brits is tantalising. Not into yoga? Try dance fitness. Not into HIIT? Try group cycling. The variety in exercise classes has expanded even within styles and methods. Group Cycling classes for example were made popular by Jonny G’s Spinning programme in the late 90s. Nowadays there are variations of cycle classes to cater for people interested in data driven experience, tracking their power output, perhaps training for a triathlon through to the other extreme of a nightclub style experience with amazing sound systems and rhythmical rides.

What’s hot in group exercise at the moment?

Yoga, Pilates and indoor group cycling are the top three most popular group exercise styles[1].  Classes like HIIT and circuits are also on the rise. Excitingly, we’ve just launched our Level 2 Group Training Qualification, which focuses on training protocols like the ones you would find in HIIT and circuits. Never before has a group exercise qualification focused so much on programming, coaching and other soft skills relevant to the classes offered today, so this is a huge step forward in the industry.

How important is an instructor to a class?

Extremely important. In 2018, our National Fitness Survey found that the class instructor was the second biggest influencer for people going to classes. When you #StandAtTheFront of a class as an instructor, not only are you leading people through a safe and effective workout, you’re also inspiring them to do more, smile more, exercise a bit more and push themselves a little bit harder than last time. Instructors are incredibly important to the group exercise experience.

Are there many different pathways for those looking to become a group exercise instructor?

When it comes to group exercise, there are a number of qualifications in the industry. It all comes down to what you want to teach. If you enjoy working to the beat and phrase of the music, then the Level 2 Group Training to Music Qualification might be for you. If you prefer HIIT classes and using music to motivate in the background, then the Level 2 Group Training Qualification might be just the path! Or, if you’ve come from a dance background and prefer to shake and shimmy, then the Level 2 Dance Fitness Qualification would be ideal. There really is something for everyone. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a free overview of qualifications, what they are and who they’re for here.

One of the important things is to do your qualification with a recognised training provider. At EMD UK, we’re an Active IQ approved training centre, which means course students are safe in the knowledge that their qualification is nationally recognised and delivered to the highest industry standards.

How can EMD UK help those looking to start their career in fitness?

As the national governing body for group exercise, we’re here to help aspiring instructors every step of the way. As a team, we are made up of instructors, coaches, participants and sporting professionals and many of us have taken the exact same path as you. We know how daunting taking your first steps can be, so we’ll guide you through every step from completing your qualification to setting up those classes. We also have training bursaries available to reduce your course fees. This bursary, funded by the government, can save you up to £200 on training. We’ll also provide you with a year’s instructor insurance and a playlist of class music provided by Pure Energy to get your classes up and running.

If someone is interested in training with EMD UK, how should they contact you?

A phone call to our friendly instructor development team, is the best place to start. They will ask you some questions and match you with the best qualification that suits your interests. From there, we’ll get you booked on so you can’t start your training journey. Don’t forget to mention Careers in Sport to be given a list of the latest price offers for your qualification. Call us on 01403 266000.

You can also visit our website on or our portal on Careers in Sport to view all our qualifications.

[1] National Fitness Survey 2018, EMD UK