Ensure quality and compliance with the law

Our professional standards.

By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Open Book Policy) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We’re the gold standard

My mission is for Pungra Fit to be the gold standard in group exercise to bhangra music. This is important to reassure exercisers that the instructors they employ the services of, are qualified to instruct group exercise classes.

There are many exercise to music instructors, with no qualifications, insurance, not part of any professional set up and are making misleading claims like, “the best workout.”

Let’s not be shoddy

I used to be the exact same when I started in 2000. However in 2007, I had some realisations about my shoddy practises. These are examples of what it means to be ‘shoddy.’ Any class that is making a claim to be a fitness or exercise to music class, in which the instructor:

  • doesn’t have a meaningful qualification (i.e. they didn’t just make it up without any industry awarding body),
  • isn’t on the Register for Exercise Professionals,
  • holds no public liability insurance or
  • has no music licence.

I hope we’ll all help each other step up our game, so that we can work towards a healthier and fitter community, and get rid of some of this “desi kam”. If you don’t speak Punjabi, “desi kam” is a euphemism for shoddy work that is considered acceptable because it’s what many other people do.

Qualification and the law

What’s the law?

I often get asked this question, usually by bhangra performing arts teachers, “is it illegal to instruct exercise to bhangra without a qualification?”. The answer in a nutshell is “it might not be explicitly written in law that it’s illegal to teach exercise to music without a qualification, but in a roundabout way, the law will work against unqualified instructors, so why risk it?’

In some countries, you cannot operate as an exercise to music instructor, making claims related to exercise, fitness, weight loss, improved health or similar, without being on some sort of register or having a licence. The UK may follow suit at some point; but currently handles matters through case law rather than legislation, which loosely means that courts decide cases individually. Again, why risk it?

The role of qualifications and litigation

Qualifications aren’t just there to protect your exercisers. The qualifications are there to help protect you and secure you quality clients, partners and relationships with fitness centres.

How many times have you heard expressions such as, “lawyers are blood-sucking vampires”, “that you can’t trust lawyers”, “in the US there are thousands of lawyers”. What about those adverts that ask questions like, “have you suffered an injury that wasn’t your fault? You could be entitled to a claim, and not pay a penny in legal fees.”

Many citizens are naive to their rights especially in terms of suffering an injury. The obvious ones include tripping over a wet floor in the supermarket, or slipping on ice on a footpath that should have been gritted. But what about walking into a doctor’s surgery, or a local library and falling over a broom stick? Is this the person’s fault for being clumsy? Or is it someone else’s fault for not putting up appropriate signs, or creating a safe alternative? You’ll find increasingly the law will place the blame with the latter.

As an instructor, should you find yourself ordered to appear in court, having a suitable qualification for your activity places you in a better position of being protected, than those who have no qualification. A great deal of law is created by the judgement at hand. You don’t want to be judged against, so protect yourself with appropriate qualifications, insurance and licences.

Register for Exercise Professionals and Insurance

To be an exercise to music instructor, fitness centres will expect that you are a member of the Register for Exercise Professionals and have a certain level of Public Liability Insurance. They also offer Public Liability Insurance as a bolt on cost.

Your membership of the Register for Exercise Professionals is not permanent, and you’ll need to resubmit your application to be a member annually. Sometimes this involves completing qualifications again.

Be covered

Ensure you have the Public Liability Insurance and are qualified to the level the fitness centre expects you to be.

Music licence

I’ve been working with music from my teenage years, including music production, djing, shows, events and now exercise. I have seen the law broken hundreds of times.

It’s increasingly confusing because of disruption of the digital media industry. The transition from vinyl, to cassette, to disc, to digital to streaming has happened incredibly quickly. Too quick perhaps for the law to keep pace. But there are facts that you must consider to protect yourself from prosecution.

The law

Music infringement is a matter under civil law. Music theft though is a criminal matter. So messing with music and transmitting it could land you in a crazy heap of bother, without you thinking too much about it.

Today it’s so easy for your friends to send you their latest favourite song through email or on a messenger service. Each time they do, they are breaking the law. Sure, there are possibly millions of people doing this, and in legal terms they are individually small fish. However, as soon as you become a DJ, radio show host or an exercise to music instructor, you are generating an income from using illegally obtained music, or even music that has been changed from its original form. This is a bigger deal to the record labels and lawyers, don’t get caught in their cross hairs. The licence I recommend you obtain is called PPL.


On their web site apply for a PPL and choose for exercise instructors. Complete the information, and based on how many classes you anticipate completing a year, you will be presented a fee.

Once you have the licence, this doesn’t mean you can play any music that you like. It’s important that you check the PPL Repertoire Search.

PPL Repertoire Search

Bhangra songs can take a couple of variations on search, especially when you’re not sure who the artist is. Sometimes the artist is the singer, other times it’s the music producer. Try both searches. Make sure your track is on their list before using it.


Income tax

You will be able to, if you choose to, generate extra income from your classes. Extra income may have Income Tax implications. In the UK, we have a personal allowance with regards to income tax, which is the amount you can earn and keep without paying tax. I believe every country will have a similar personal allowance system, please check for your location.

As of tax year 2017 to 2018 the personal allowance for Income Tax in the UK is just over £11,000. This means anything earned below that amount will not have Income Tax due.

Employed by the fitness centre

If you’re employed by a fitness centre, it is most likely that they will take care of any Income Tax payments, as it’s their responsibility. But look at this carefully, because some arrangements are based on freelancing, in which you’re responsible for any Income Tax payments.

Private hire

If your exercise classes are your only source of income and you’re under the personal allowance threshold, you’ll not pay tax on it. However, if like me, you have a day job which takes you above the personal allowance threshold, then you, and I, must declare our extra income.

Self-Assessment / Tax Return

The method in the UK to declare income is a self assessment.

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