Working as a Fitness Instructor vs. Working in the Corporate World

published on 09 August 2023

Over the years I've seen many people transition from the corporate world into fitness. I am also someone who made the change after realizing I was looking for something more fulfilling, flexible, and sustainable for my career. The path to get from behind a desk into the studio was winding but well worth it.

Working in the fitness industry can be a great way to help people achieve their fitness goals and promote a healthier lifestyle - this was very appealing for me. But, before making the leap, it's important to weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision. Here are some of the differences and considerations you must think about before making the jump to Pilates instruction.

Job Roles

The work environment for fitness instructors is often dynamic and involves interacting closely with clients. They may work in a gym, fitness center, or boutique studio. The work environment for employees and independent contractors in the corporate world is generally more structured and formal, with less face-to-face client interaction.


Instructors in the fitness industry are often responsible for developing workout plans, conducting fitness classes or personal training sessions, managing client progress, and maintaining client relationships. They are more involved in the hands-on delivery of fitness services.

Employees and independent contractors in the corporate world may take on a variety of specialized tasks, such as software development, marketing, consulting, or creative work. Their responsibilities are typically project-based and may involve less direct interaction with clients.

Income Structure

Instructors in the fitness industry may be paid on an hourly basis for classes or sessions they conduct or receive a percentage of the fees paid by their clients. Their income is often directly tied to the number of clients they serve, which can result in less income stability.

Employees and independent contractors in the corporate world might charge fixed project fees or hourly rates for their services. They might also negotiate long-term contracts with companies for ongoing work. Their income may be less directly linked to the number of clients served and more dependent on the value of their expertise and the scope of the projects they undertake.


Instructors in the fitness industry often have more flexible schedules, as they can choose their class times or training sessions. This flexibility allows them to better balance work with personal commitments.

While employees and independent contractors in the corporate world can also have some flexibility in setting their work hours, they may need to align their schedules with the company's needs and timelines for specific projects, which offers less flexibility.

Job Satisfaction

Many fitness industry professionals find great satisfaction in helping clients achieve their fitness goals and promoting a healthier lifestyle. The close client interaction can lead to deep personal connections and a strong sense of fulfillment.

Employees and independent contractors in the corporate world may derive satisfaction from using their specialized skills and expertise to solve unique business challenges, contribute to projects, and work with diverse teams.

Job Security

Job security in the fitness industry can vary, especially for instructors in smaller gyms or fitness studios where financial stability may be more vulnerable to fluctuations in memberships or seasonal demands.

Job security in a corporate setting is often perceived as more stable due to established company structures, regular income, and corporate policies.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation for fitness industry employees can vary widely depending on factors like experience, qualifications, location, and the type of fitness establishment. They may receive hourly wages or salaries, and benefits may differ from one employer to another. More often than not, health insurance and retirement programs are not offered, although this is slowly changing.

Corporate employees often receive a regular salary or hourly pay, along with a comprehensive benefits package that may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and other perks.

Conclusion: You Can Dip Your Toe in the Water

Becoming a Pilates instructor doesn't have to be an all or or nothing proposition. You can take a methodical approach to transitioning your career. Maybe you complete an instructor training workshop, get certified and work part time while you figure out if it's something you want to excel at. You could also go all-in and completely cut ties with the corporate world so you can have laser focus on your new career path. There is no right or wrong approach but be sure to consider all the trade-offs involved.

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