National Fitness Leadership Association Group Exercise Leadership Performance Standards - Group Exercise

A Group Exercise Leader designs and implements a safe and effective group exercise class for apparently healthy participants.

Group Exercise Leadership Performance Standards build on the NFLA Exercise Theory Prerequisite Knowledge Base.

Health-Related Benefits of Physical Activity

Performance Standard #1

The Group Exercise Leader describes the benefits of group exercise classes.


  1. Defines group exercise

  2. Explains current trends and factors that influence the popularity of group exercise

  3. Describes and explains the benefits of group exercise

I Leadership

Performance Standard #1

The Group Exercise Leader identifies and demonstrates qualities, strategies, and skills of effective leadership.


  1. Identifies professional qualities of leadership

  2. Identifies the skills of effective group exercise leaders

  3. Recognizes leadership strategies in the delivery of group exercise classes

  4. Describes effective leadership styles and motivation techniques

II Communication

Performance Standard #2

The Group Exercise Leader recognizes and demonstrates a variety of effective communication techniques.


  1. Distinguishes between verbal and visual cueing

  2. Describes how to enhance verbal cueing and visual cueing

  3. Explains effective communication skills

  4. States forms and techniques of giving and receiving feedback

  5. Identifies techniques to reduce voice injury

III Working with Groups

Performance Standard #3

The Group Exercise Leader demonstrates knowledge of group dynamics.


  1. Explains how to create a supportive, participant-centred environment

  2. Identifies challenges in leading group exercise classes

  3. Explains the stages of group development

Professional Practice

Performance Standard

The Group Exercise Leader demonstrates knowledge of professional conduct in a group exercise setting.


  1. Acts in accordance to the scope of practice

  2. Adheres to the code of conduct

  3. Acts as an informed resource to colleagues and class participants

  4. Maintains accreditation

  5. Demonstrates commitment to continued education and professional development

Program Planning

I Exercise Analysis

Performance Standard #1

The Group Exercise Leader selects safe and appropriate exercises for the goals and objectives of a group exercise class.


  1. Identifies the process of movement analysis

  2. Describes the principles of movement analysis

  3. Explains the intended purpose of a given exercise, analyzes its potential risks, and provides modifications

  4. Defends exercise selection for appropriate use

  5. Identifies common exercise modifications

  6. Identifies how to progress exercise for a given muscle group

  7. Group Exercise Performance Standards 2015

  8. National Fitness Leadership Alliance (NFLA) 4

  9. Explains the importance of proper body alignment, posture, and core stabilization

  10. Identifies ways to correct errors in technique

II Class Design

Performance Standard #2

The Group Exercise Leader designs an effective program using established methods and training principles.


  1. Identifies the steps in class design

  2. Describes the components of an exercise class

  3. Explains the purpose of a given component of fitness

  4. Demonstrates ways to execute the exercise selections

  5. Applies the FITT formula to an exercise class

  6. Applies principles of conditioning to a variety of group exercise programs

  7. Identifies and differentiates methods to monitor exercise intensity

  8. Describes ways to evaluate the effectiveness of class design

  9. Lists and describes functional fitness skills in an appropriate class setting

  10. Describes use of a variety of training methods and types

III Use of Music

Performance Standard #3

The Group Exercise Leader selects music appropriate to both the class format and audience.


  1. Lists reasons for using music in classes

  2. Explains uses of music in an exercise setting

  3. Identifies music appropriate for different class formats, styles, and pace

  4. Identifies safe music and microphone volumes

  5. Acknowledges music copyright laws

IV Use of Equipment

Performance Standard #4

The Group Exercise Leader demonstrates how to use equipment to enhance training for various participants and class types, ensuring that it is both safe and effective.


  1. Describes the purpose of different pieces of portable exercise equipment

  2. Describes advantages and disadvantages of using a piece of equipment

  3. Identifies when it is or is not appropriate to use equipment

  4. Designs appropriate exercises and alternatives using various pieces of equipment

V Risk Management


Performance Standard #5

The Group Exercise Leader leads classes in such a way to minimize and manage risk.


  1. Identifies the importance of health screening

  2. Assesses and addresses potential environmental safety issues

  3. Assesses and addresses potential equipment safety issues

  4. Recognizes the implications of legal issues

  5. Identifies common emergency procedures and the exercise leader’s role in response to emergencies