Do you love your fitness classes so much that you’re thinking about a career in the field? Or perhaps you’re a lifetime athlete trying to utilize your best skill set to dive into work that you enjoy. A career as a group fitness instructor may be a great fit for you. The process to become one is very straightforward. Here are the steps you need to take to become a group fitness instructor.
Step One: Get GFI Certified
Fitness studios and gyms vary widely in terms of what they offer to members, but one thing that is consistent about 99% of the time is the requirement that instructors obtain and maintain a primary certification in group exercise or group fitness. There are many options for certifications. Among the most popular and recognized in the U.S. are:
- The American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- The National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT)
- The Athletics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
- The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
The one you choose should reflect what studios in your area accept, as well as the one that fits your budget and learning style best. Most job listings contain a list of the employers’ top picks.
Step Two: Choose a Focus
While primary certifications give you a base of knowledge in terms of anatomy, teaching guidelines, and techniques, they are not specifically oriented toward particular formats. Nor will they teach you how to create and run a class from start to finish. That means, you will need to seek additional education in an area of specialty. Among the most popular group fitness formats are:
- Group Strength (like my 15 Full Body Workouts series)
- Dance/Dance Fitness (such as Zumba or UJam Fitness)
- Bootcamp Fitness
- Cardio Sculpt
- Step Aerobics (yes, even now!)
Quick note: If you were thinking of yoga, it’s not technically a group fitness format. If you’re interested in becoming a yoga instructor, look into enrolling in a 200 hour certification program.
Step Three: Land a Teaching Job
Of course, in order to become a fitness instructor, you need to land a job teaching classes.
- Search your local listings. I’ve had good results with Indeed and Craigslist. A good Google maps search to find out what local studios are in the area will also serve you well.
- Send your resume with a brief introduction over email. Feel free to follow up with a call or a visit. That way, they won’t see you as just another potential candidate, but rather have a face and personality to attach the documents to.
- Audition with as many studios as possible. As you will see, the group fitness audition is your gateway into the field, especially when you’re starting out. Click here for tips on how to rock your audition.
In the meantime, get as much experience teaching as you can. Hiring managers will be looking for that as they consider candidates.
Get Started Today
If you’re serious about a career in fitness, get started NOW. The sooner you get your certification, the sooner opportunities will arise for you to use it. I had no idea where my initial group fitness cert would take me. Almost 8 years later, I’m THRIVING in a career that I love. I hope this piece gave you the information and inspiration you need to help you take the next step on your career and fitness journey. Best of luck to you!
PS – Want more advice on how to become a thriving fitness professional and stories about life in the field? Click here to join my mailing list.