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Group Exercise Leader

Group exercise leaders promote exercise as a healthy lifestyle choice. They instruct fitness activities to build muscle strength and endurance, aerobic capacity, flexibility, agility, and balance.

  • Avg. Salary $19,222.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.07
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook avg
  • Employed 13,900
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Fitness (Instructor / Leader), Trainer, Weight (Instructor / Trainer)

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness (5254) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation and Sport (F154) 
  • 2011 NOC: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (5254) 
  • 2016 NOC: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (5254) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Group Exercise Leader is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness

Interest in manipulating and assembling supplies and sports and game equipment; and in monitoring recreational and sports activities to ensure safety and provide emergency and first aid assistance when required


Interest in instructing groups and individuals in arts, crafts and similar activities; in leading groups and individuals in recreational and leisure programs, and in attending clients with special needs by conducting therapeutic recreational and athletic activities


Interest in co-ordinating information to plan recreational, athletic, fitness and sports programs

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2020

The duties for group exercise leaders vary with the type of exercise. In general, they determine or develop exercise sessions, classes, or programs that fit participants’ needs and abilities. They use their leadership and communication skills to:

  • Select and demonstrate exercise methods and proper equipment use for various class formats
  • Ensure participants exercise safely
  • Teach proper breathing techniques
  • Lead participants through exercise routines
  • Monitor participants’ progress and adapt programs as needed
  • Provide resources to participants about healthy living and physical activity

Group exercise leaders who instruct classes also plan routines and choose appropriate music for class format and audience. They:

  • Choose relevant and proper movements for each muscle group depending on participants’ abilities and limitations
  • Help participants gauge their levels of exertion to get the greatest benefit from their exercise routines
  • Suggest ways to adapt movements to suit different fitness levels

Group exercise leaders who work for health clubs may need to:

  • Record member information
  • Promote the club through membership sales
  • Teach and demonstrate how to use equipment safely
  • Clean and maintain equipment
  • Advise clients about proper clothing and shoes
  • Lead or assist with workshops and information sessions
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Group exercise leaders work in various settings. Some clubs and facilities have separate showers and lockers for leaders. Fitness studios may have mirror-lined walls so people can watch their own movements. They may have special flooring to reduce injuries. These amenities may not be available in community facilities.

Some employers have specific clothing requirements. Others provide uniforms such as a company shirt. Appropriate footwear, equipment, and clothing can be expensive. In some locations, any clean, comfortable, casual clothing is accepted.

Group exercise work is physically and mentally demanding. Leaders are constantly moving while coaching and giving instructions out loud. They are responsible for class safety (ensuring participants perform exercises correctly to prevent injury).

Early morning, noon hour, evening, and weekend work is common. Group exercise leaders spend much of their own time preparing for classes.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Group exercise leaders need:

  • Physical fitness and coordination
  • Patience, approachability and enthusiasm
  • Organizational skills
  • Creativity
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • The ability to motivate participants
  • The ability to work alone

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods, dealing with people, and designing new exercise programs accompanied by music.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness
NOC code: 5254

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 15 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Sep 17, 2021 and Oct 21, 2021.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Monitor recreational, sports or fitness activities to ensure safety and provide emergency or first aid assistance when required
Demonstrate and instruct athletic, fitness or sports activities and techniques
Lead groups and individuals in recreational or leisure programs
Ensure health and safety regulations are followed
Plan and carry out recreational, fitness and sports activities
Understand principles of group dynamics
Assist clients/guests with special needs
Assemble supplies, sports and game equipment
Schedule activities, keep logs, maintain records and prepare reports
Leading/instructing individuals
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Most employers prefer to hire group exercise leaders who have a high school diploma. Some require related post-secondary education.

Various Alberta agencies offer training and specialty courses in exercise theory, such as:

  • Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association (AFLCA)
  • Continuing education departments of post-secondary schools
  • YM / YWCAs or other fitness facilities

CPR training also is available from:

  • Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • Continuing education departments of post-secondary schools
  • Lifesaving Society
  • Recreational facilities
  • St. John’s Ambulance

Some employers, such as YM / YWCAs, provide their own in-house training. Many require group exercise leaders to have liability insurance coverage.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grant MacEwan University

Lethbridge College

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Simon Fraser University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

While certification is not required by law, most employers require it.

Certification for group exercise leaders is available through the Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association (AFLCA) and CanFitPro.

AFLCA certifications include liability insurance. They are provincially and nationally recognized by the National Fitness Leadership Association (NFLA). Group exercise leaders who hold YM / YWCA national certification can challenge AFLCA certification.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Group exercise leaders work for:

  • Community leagues
  • Dance schools
  • Large corporations
  • Municipal recreation centres
  • Post-secondary schools
  • Private health clubs
  • Public leisure centres
  • Resorts and hotels
  • Retirement centres
  • YMCAs and YWCAs

Many group exercise leaders work on a contract basis for a specific class or number of classes. They may work for several employers at the same time.

Others lead exercise groups as a second job to earn extra income or maintain their own fitness. Some group exercise leaders volunteer for community groups.

Group exercise leaders who work for clubs and facilities may move into supervisory and management positions. Others set up their own businesses.

Group exercise leaders are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5254: Program leaders and instructors in recreation and sport and fitness. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5254: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 270 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Group exercise leaders’ incomes vary greatly. Factors include their experience, the variety of certification specialities they hold, the number of classes they teach, and the type of employer they work for. Some group exercise leaders are volunteers.

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $25.00 $18.18 $16.50
Overall $15.00 $32.50 $20.07 $18.00
Top $15.70 $43.75 $25.06 $22.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Educational Services
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
Information, Culture, Recreation
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
Accommodation & Food Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Physical Education and Recreation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association (AFLCA) and Provincial Fitness Unit website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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