Australia’s ageing and increasingly health-conscious population has seen an explosion in the number of fitness instructors, suggesting the health and fitness industry is ripe with opportunity.
According to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, there were 8,000 fitness instructors operating in Australia in 1999.
In the past five years, the number of instructors has grown 36.7%, compared to 13.1% for all other occupations.
There are now 22,888 fitness instructors operating in Australia, and that number is likely to increase by 252% to an additional 57,592 instructors by 2020.
Working in a gym, running an outdoor training group or operating a personal training business are the most common forms of work within the fitness industry, according to the department.
There are several factors driving the growth, including the increasing number of people who are overweight or obese, and Australia’s ageing population.
Not only do older people have more time to work on their fitness, they believe being fit will enable them to better enjoy their retirement.
Also driving growth is the mining boom. Many mining companies build gyms onsite to provide fly-in, fly-out workers with an opportunity to stay fit.
According to the department, working as a fitness instructor is popular among younger people. The median age for fitness instructors is 33, while the median age across all occupations is 39.
More than 19% have no post-school qualifications, and females working part-time make up 45% of all instructors.
It’s believed the growth in online learning is making it easier for people to study a fitness course without giving up their day job.
According to an industry expert, the prospect of working as a fitness instructor attracts people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Rick Munn, from the Australian Institute of Fitness, says the institute has grown from four campuses and five classrooms in 2007 to six campuses and 14 classrooms.
“In one week, I have had a lawyer, garbologist, fruit picker, Year 12 student, AFL player, somebody who was retrenched and an office worker,” Munn says.
The industry also generates impressive profits from the sale of health and fitness paraphernalia, indicating this is another business avenue for start-ups to consider.
According to a survey by the Australian Fitness and Health Expo, almost 100% of consumers who visited the expo said they would purchase fitness and health products over the next 12 months, spending an average of $2,153.
The same survey found more than half of Australians want to get fit and improve their health.