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Overview

The page provides information and data on the Fitness sector, which is one component of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry.

The fitness industry primarily consists of health clubs, fitness centres and gymnasiums.

Strong growth has been experienced by the fitness industry and this is expected to continue over the next five years. The expansion of budget gym chains and premium functional fitness, along with increasing awareness of the health benefits of physical activity and a growth in health consciousness are main contributors to growth.

Vocational education and training is required for occupations involved in a broad range of fitness service occupations such as:

  • Gym and Group Instructors
  • Personal Trainers
  • Aqua and Other Specialised Trainers
  • Fitness services coordinator.

Nationally recognised training for Fitness occupations is delivered under the SIS – Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Packages. 

For more information on Aquatic and Community RecreationOutdoor Recreation and Sport sectors, please visit the respective pages.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Sports and Physical Recreation Activities industry rose substantially over the period between 2001 and 2019 (from around 43,100 to 117,800), however dropped by almost half in 2020 to 61,000 before increasing again in 2021 to 104,200. Employment levels are projected to remain steady at this level to 2025. The Amusement and Other Recreation Activities industry also saw a rise in employment levels over the same period to 2019, followed by a decline of two thirds in 2020 and a significant increase in 2021 (from 5,900 to 20,500). Employment levels for this industry are expected to decline 31% to 14,200 by 2025.

Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials make up approximately 16% of the Sport and Recreation Activities industry workforce and Fitness Instructors make up just over 9%. Employment levels in these occupations are projected to further increase by 2025, by approximately 10% and 6% respectively.

Training trends

Training Snapshot

There were close to 49,990 enrolments in fitness sector-related qualifications during 2020 and approximately 16,320 completions, with both program enrolments and completions recording an increase after a steady decline since the beginning of the reporting period in 2016. The majority of all training takes place in the Certificate III in Fitness (66%) with the main intended occupation of Swimming Coach or Instructor, or the Certificate IV in Fitness (34%) with the sole intended occupation of Fitness Instructor.

Most of the training is carried out by private training providers (91%), of which 91% of subjects are funded by domestic fee-for-service. TAFE institutes also provide a small portion (7%) of training, the majority of which is Commonwealth and state funded (88%).

A large proportion of enrolments were by students from Queensland (38%), New South Wales (23%) and Victoria (17%). More than half of all training was delivered in Queensland (58%), followed by New South Wales (17%) and Victoria (12%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements decreased significantly between 2012 and 2013 (from 1,220 to 540), followed by a gradual downward trend to approximately 190 commencements as at December 2020. Apprentice and trainee completions peaked at just over 840 in 2012, and have since declined overall to approximately 90 in 2020. The majority of apprentices and trainees as at December 2020 were enrolled in the Certificate III in Fitness with the intended occupation of Swimming Coach or Instructor. The highest proportion of apprentices and trainees in training were reported by Victoria (43%) and Queensland (31%), followed by New South Wales (19%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s Data Builder.  

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the following form the top priority skills required across the industry:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Problem solving
  • Self-management
  • Technical/Job-specific skills.

Additionally, other skills and knowledge gaps identified included online and social media, marketing, initiative and enterprise (i.e. small business management) and sports administration.

The following generic skills were also identified as highest priority for the Sport and Recreation industry:

  • Customer Service/Marketing
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Managerial/Leadership.

The importance of communication skills is supported by findings from the job vacancy data, in which communication was identified as the most in demand advertised generic skill in the Sports and Recreation Activities industry, followed by energetic, organisational skills, planning and detail orientated.

According to job vacancy data the most advertised occupations were for Fitness Instructors, followed by Swimming Coach or Instructor and Other Sports Coach or Instructor, and the top two employers were YMCA and Anytime Fitness.

There is significant opportunity for the fitness industry to take advantage of Australia’s increasing population and rising discretionary income. Australians are also becoming more health conscious and are looking for avenues to increase their physical activity. These continuing trends should create further demand for fitness products and services in the future, of which the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights that workforce shortages currently exist for fitness instructors, with the high demand for people to fill this role expected into the future.

According to the AusPlay: State of Play report around one third of the Australian population aged 15 plus currently participate in fitness/gym activities with a high proportion of this participation being organised or venue based (i.e. at a gym or organised fitness).

Advancements in technology continue to provide opportunities to the fitness industry according to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, particularly with regards to the tracking personal activity, training and health data and being able to access and use this customer focused information to provide niche and individualised services.

FutureNow’s report shows results from a survey conducted in April 2020 revealed that nationally, 80% of sole traders and 100% of boutique and multi-service facility gyms reported drops in revenue with private training in demand and large group training reduced as clients remain concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during lockdown technology provided a lifeline to organisations in this industry, allowing the delivery of virtual fitness classes.

The Australian Institute of Fitness’ report reveals the top fitness trends predicted for 2022 include Wearable Technology (such as devices to monitor steps, sleep, heart rate and more), Exercise is Medicine (a global health initiative encouraging health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit), and Online Training, such as mobile apps, online on-demand workout libraries and virtual PT training. The report also acknowledges that it is unlikely things return to the way they were pre-pandemic, and instead a combination of old meets new will become the norm as technology continues to drive evolutions in gym and personal training.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal website

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2025
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 4523 Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials
    • 4521 Fitness Instructors
    • 4524 Sportspersons
    • 1491 Amusement, Fitness and Sports Centre Managers
    • 3623 Greenkeepers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 6211 Sales Assistants (General)
    • 4522 Outdoor Adventure Guides.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census - Employment, Income and Unpaid Work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, nfd
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.
    • 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package
    • SIS30310 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SIS30313 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SIS30315 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SIS40210 - Certificate IV in Fitness
    • SIS40215 - Certificate IV in Fitness
    • SIS50210 - Diploma of Fitness
    • SIS50213 - Diploma of Fitness
    • SIS50215 - Diploma of Fitness.
  • SRF Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package (Superseded by SIS)
    • SRF20201 - Certificate II in Fitness
    • SRF30201 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SRF30204 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SRF30206 - Certificate III in Fitness
    • SRF40201 - Certificate IV in Fitness
    • SRF40204 - Certificate IV in Fitness
    • SRF40206 - Certificate IV in Fitness
    • SRF50206 - Diploma of Fitness.

Superseded qualifications and training packages are grouped with current training products.  

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments,
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments and
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.  

SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions 
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and State and Territory of data submitter.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • Managers
    • Clerical and Administrative Workers
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation 
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
  • Employers
    • 452111 Fitness Instructor
    • 452315 Swimming Coach or Instructor 
    • 452317 Other Sports Coach or Instructor
    • 541211 Information Officer 
    • 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation 
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
Updated: 24 Jan 2022
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