You’ve become a regular in your class of choice. You have your “spot” in the front of the room, next to the instructor (and you can pinpoint if they have an “oops” moment … trust me, we all have them). You’ve perfected your uppercut or grapevine or deadlift or rollup or pedal stroke. You occasionally find people watching you instead of the instructor.
Which leads you to ask the next question … could I BE the instructor?
Becoming a group fitness instructor is really not as difficult as you might think, but it is an investment … it takes some time, money and research. So, where do you start?
- Talk with other instructors. Find out how they got started, ask for suggestions, and let them know that you are thinking about pursuing a certification. Many will offer you help preparing for your workshop or exam, and some may even offer assistance or opportunities to “team teach” so you can build experience once you have completed your certification (I team taught with my cycle instructor when I first completed my Spinning certification, and I let one of my girls teach for 10-15 minutes during a few of my classes last summer – she is now teaching at another XSport location in Virginia).
- Do your research. Time and cost varies significantly depending on the certification you are interested in. Some classes require just a general group fitness certification (ACE, AFAA and NESTA are some of the most common), which involves a written exam, and sometimes a workshop. Specialty certifications, such as indoor cycling, step, pump, etc. usually have a day or weekend workshop, while yoga and Pilates tend to be much more intensive (many programs span weeks, sometimes months, before certification is granted). Associated costs vary greatly depending on the certification – and remember that most will also have required continuing education (with additional time and cost) or renewal fees, as well.
- Go for it! Speak with the group fitness manager or studio owner where you are currently taking classes. A lot of places will hire within – they know what you are capable of, because they are used to seeing you in class. Many will even offer suggestions to help you get started, or let you know when they have open classes that you may be able to fill. Just like any other job, networking makes a world of difference.
Once you are certified, you’ll want to take a little time to get comfortable with everything you’ve learned throughout your certification. Teaching a class isn’t about just showing up and telling people what to do – there is varying degrees of prep work behind it (such as learning choreography or planning a playlist), and especially in the beginning, it will take a little time to get your body and your cues on the same page. Having the right personality is a big part of it – you’re essentially signing up to make a fool out of yourself in front of a room full of people.
But here’s the thing … it’s the most incredible, rewarding and FUN job you could ever possibly have. Teaching a good class can give you a rush like you’ve never experienced, and it gets even better once your participants start sharing the success stories that are a result of taking your class.