Group fitness

Do you find yourself obsessed with going to every single group fitness class at your favorite gym? Do you have a passion for fitness and have the desire to help others achieve their wellness goals? Then it’s possible you have the perfect characteristics to become a successful group fitness instructor.

Nearly 10 years ago, I taught my first group fitness class. I was so nervous, I seriously thought about quitting before I began. But after receiving a few words of encouragement from my husband, I showed up for my first scheduled class. I was very fortunate to have an amazing group of women who were incredibly kind and understanding. Overall, the class was a success. Since then, my love for teaching group fitness continues to grow, and it’s become a big part of the person I am today.

Working in the fitness industry is no easy task. It takes time, patience and dedication. Some people may think the hardest part is coaching a group to perform exercises properly. The real work actually takes place outside of class. Selecting music, memorizing choreography, practicing proper technique, scripting verbal cues and maintaining a high fitness level are just a few of the fitness instructors’ responsibilities.

So if you’ve never worked in the fitness industry, where do you begin? Here are some steps to becoming a group fitness instructor:

1. Pick a format. Dance fitness, strength, boot camp, yoga, cycle, aqua and low- impact are just a few of the many types of workouts that can be taught in a group setting. You likely already favor a format. Go to those classes more and start taking note on how the instructor teaches. Focusing on teaching one format also will keep you from getting overwhelmed as you’re learning the basics of group fitness.

2. Find a mentor. If you love taking group fitness classes, you probably have a favorite instructor. Talk to that person. Tell them you’re interested in becoming an instructor, too. My guess is that they will be ecstatic for you and will want to take you under their wing. Ask them about their experiences and how they got their start. These insights can help get you started on the right foot and help you avoid common mistakes.

3. Get certified. If you go online, you will notice hundreds of group fitness certifications. Each of these fitness formats will require you to fulfill different criteria before you’re allowed to step in front of a class. For instance, some formats may require you to attend a weekend training, pass an exam or record and submit a video of yourself teaching a live class. You can register for these trainings and certifications online.

4. Practice teaching. Once you are certified, it is time to practice. Grab your family members and friends, and teach your new format in an open space at your home. Reach out to your mentor and ask if you can teach a couple of routines during their class. Just make sure to get permission from the facility before following through with this option. The more you teach in front of people, the more comfortable you will feel leading a group.

5. Apply for the job. Although you may not have experience in working in the fitness industry, it is still very possible to land a job as a group fitness instructor. Many larger gyms tend to have a call for open auditions when they need several group fitness instructors at once. During these auditions, you will be required to teach at least one fitness routine to show you know how to coach and motivate a group. It can be a nerve-wracking process, but if you show enthusiasm and an ambition to be a supportive team member, you’ll most likely get the job.

Teaching group fitness can turn into the perfect part-time career for you, too. The learning process never stops, and it’s a fun way to make connections with new people.

Stephanie Swearngin teaches group fitness classes at VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa and at VASA Fitness.

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