Posted in Fitness For Kids, Group Fitness Stories, Growing Up

Mousercise: My First Introduction to Group Exercise

As a kid in the 80s, I remember being drawn to the world of song and dance. At the time, there was a wildly popular show on Disney called Mousercise. It may sound corny as hell for those reading now, but remember… this was before kids drew 90% of their entertainment from devices. My siblings, my cousins, and I ate it up!

Mousercise Opening Theme. So many memories!

Also important to note… video on-demand wasn’t a thing yet. So those who had cable had to watch shows at their scheduled times or arrange to record them on the spot using their VCR.

Dancing at Dawn

I’ll have to confirm with my mom, but I remember camping out in the kitchen with my cousins (yes, we had the Mickie and Minnie Mouse sleeping bags) and waking up before the sun rose to get our mousercise on! We weren’t early birds by any stretch, but when it came to Mousercise, we were willing to bite the bullet.

In the morning, we’d push aside our linens and spread out across our tiny kitchen to dance with Mickey, Donald, and the show’s host and dance fitness instructor Kellyn.

A Note on Kids’ Fitness

I’m not currently trained in fitness for kids (although I plan to be in the near future), but it takes a gifted, confident instructor to facilitate exercise in a room full of miniature energizer bunnies. You have to:

In my opinion, that takes skill and a whole lot of compassion! But from what I’ve heard from those doing the work, it is hugely rewarding. In addition other perks of being a group fitness instructor, they have the satisfaction of knowing that they’re nurturing healthy habits in multiple generations of growing human beings.

I’d love to know… Do YOU remember Mousercise? If so, share your memories in the comments! And share this blog with a friend. Also comment if you’re a kids’ fitness instructor or thinking about becoming one 😉

Till next time,


PS – If you’re interested in learning healthy nutrition and behavioral habits that you can share with your family and/or your clients, click here.

Posted in Benefits & Perks, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

Group Fitness Instructor Perks

Sure, teaching fitness classes can be fun, but it takes work to be an engaging GFI. From getting hired for new classes and sub opportunities to skillfully handling embarrassing class moments, we’ve got our work cut out for us. Now, don’t let the challenges stear you away too quickly. There are some amazing group fitness instructor perks that you can take advantage of.

Ambassador, Brand Loyalty, & Partnership Discounts

If you’re seeking or already building a career in fitness, there’s a good chance you are a gear geek like the rest of us. Well, I’ve got news for you! You get discounts on many of the popular active-wear and equipment brands. Some of my favorites include:

  • Lululemon
  • Athleta
  • Victoria’s Secret Sportswear
  • Prana
  • Manduka
  • TRX (for those who’ve taken their professional training)

Certification companies also have a partnerships with a range of companies that provide insurance, continuing education, business software and services, and leisure activities.

Complimentary Gym Memberships

The exact policy depends on the studio you work for, but in most cases, having just one regular class on a fitness center’s schedule entitles you to a complimentary membership there. Your membership enables you to:

  • Schedule and attend classes
  • Use the locker room and any amenities
  • Work out on the gym floor
  • Attend member-only events
  • Bonus: Teachers also get a small discount on products and services.

Some gyms will give you these benefits simply for being on their sub list. The exception to both of these conditions is if you are working for a corporate site or luxury apartment fitness center. While you are welcome to use the locker rooms (if available), working out at their gym or taking classes is not allowed.

Work Out While You Work

While teaching fitness classes is not a magic pill to get in shape, it help you get fitter and stronger. This will depend largely on two things:

  1. The format you teach
  2. How many classes you teach per week

Those who teach cardio demonstrate throughout the class (as in step or dance fitness) will burn the most, while those who teach strength and demo occasionally will see some strength gains. You’ll notice the biggest difference when you first become a group fitness instructor. Just make sure to balance out the work you do in class with your own personal workouts and maintain healthy, sustainable eating habits (click here to find out more about how I help individuals develop better eating habits).

Is there a group fitness perk that I forgot to mention in this piece? Let me know in the comments below! Out of the ones I mentioned, what is your favorite?

Till next time,

Nadia 😉

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Class Engagement, Confidence, Dealing with Students, Gaining Experience, Subbing Classes

Embarrassing Moments in Group Fitness: My First Walkout

As I entered into my career as a group fitness instructor, I was blissfully unaware of all of the things that might go wrong while teaching, especially while subbing another instructor’s class. That’s why I feel compelled to share with you one of my most embarrassing moments in group fitness: my first walkout.

The Setup

I was asked by a colleague of mine to sub a group strength and cardio class that met right before my regular dance fitness session. Since I was already teaching indoor bootcamps at Method3 Fitness (then Fast Action Training), I knew it would be a piece of cake!

I planned a workout I just knew would be challenging and fun! Then I showed up ready to deliver.

Enter Antagonist: The Disgruntled Regular

Most of the class was super friendly and grateful to be met with something different (as opposed to a class cancellation). But there was one woman whom I noticed was struggling with workload. She moved slowly from one exercise to the next and I can only describe her form during the moves as a personal trainer’s nightmare.

Just know that I’m not trying to belittle her. I was truly worried that she would injure herself! So I happily approached her for form corrections and suggested modifications. She was not impressed, but rather, she ignored me and continued to do her thing.

The Tipping Point

As we moved into the next block of exercises, I gave the class a break while I demonstrated the next set of moves. As the other students watched intently, I heard a gasp from far right side of the room “UGH!”

EVERYONE turned to look. The woman shook her head and as I continued to demonstrate, she began to pick up her equipment and put it away… one piece at a time. First her mat. Then her weights. Then the bench.

Important side note: She had chosen a spot on the right side of the room, in the front. The equipment was on the left, in the back. So she walked past the group about 6 times 😐 😅 😮

My Reaction

Truth be told, I was shocked at her blatant disruption of class. At the same time, as an older woman who had probably been attending the class regularly for years, I could see that it was just her frustration boiling over. So…

  • As she put away her equipment, I went on teaching as if there were no disruptions (despite the eyes of several students following her)
  • When she finally made her way toward the door to leave, I smiled, waved, and said “Thank you so much for coming!”
  • At the end of class, I apologized to the remaining students on her behalf. They expressed that although it was different than they were used to, they really enjoyed the class.

My guidance compass: Be kind. Be confident. Be professional.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Take Things Personally

My first walkout taught me quite a bit about having a career in group fitness:

  1. Different students like different formats. Just because a student doesn’t like your class, it doesn’t mean it isn’t great. It just means it’s not for them.
  2. It’s not about me. How a student reacts on any given day is a reflection of their attitude and emotional state. A daily workout may be the only opportunity someone has to feel great in their day. Some people are really bad with change.
  3. It will likely happen again, because subbing is tough!

You never know what you’re going to get when you get hired for a new class or sub someone else’s. There’s always an adjustment. As long as you know that you brought your best stuff and worked hard to keep the class engaged, you’ve done your due diligence.

Did you find this piece funny? Helpful? Scary? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re an instructor who has had an experience like this, share that too! We can commiserate together 😉

Till next time,


Posted in Getting Paid, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

How Much Do Group Fitness Instructors Make?

If you’re serious about becoming a group fitness instructor, you probably also want to make sure that you’re getting paid well. So the obvious questions is, how much do group fitness instructors make?

Typical Hourly Pay

Based on my research, as well as my experience with a variety of gyms and studios. The typical hourly wage for a group fitness instructor can range anywhere from $18 to $60 dollars an hour, generally speaking, with new instructors on the low end and seasoned instructors on the higher end. Starting pay at a new studio can also range depending on:

  • The type of company. Community centers tend to cap their offers at $40/hr while high end gyms and third party companies that hire for corporate sites are willing to go up to $55 or $60.
  • Your level experience and expertise. Experience talks. If hiring managers see that you have held positions at reputable companies, for extended lengths of service, they will offer more. That’s why it is SO important to gain experience teaching as soon as possible! If you have less than a year, there are no guarantees, unless you completely blow them away with your audition.

Group Fitness Salaries

To be perfectly honest, many group fitness instructors work part time in the field and have full time jobs elsewhere. The ones who work “full time” (30 hours a week or more) get hired to teach at multiple places. That means, most instructors are not on salary. The exception is administrators, who also teach classes. That may include:

  • The studio owner
  • The general manager
  • The group fitness and personal training managers
  • Personal trainers

These positions are often obtained after years of successful service in the field of fitness. With some legwork, it IS possible to build up your class schedule, so that you’re making a decent living.

Calculate Your Expected Salary

To calculate your expected salary, use this simple calculation.

  • # of classes/week x expected hourly pay = weekly pay
  • weekly pay x 4 = gross monthly pay
  • monthly pay x 12 = gross annual salary

I’m no math wiz, but this will give you a rough estimate of what you should expect to earn as a group fitness instructor.

Private Classes & Clients

Instructors have the potential to earn more by taking on private classes at corporate sites, which can pay up to $80/hr or by serving 1:1 sessions with students. If you’re going to go this route, make sure to have the right credentials, so you’re able to keep sessions safe and effective for clients.

Be Strategic with Your Fitness Career

In the end, what you make as a group fitness instructor will depend on the types of jobs you apply for, the energy you put into getting them, and your ability to keep classes engaging and fun. So whether this is your side-hustle or your main gig, put enough effort into it, and you can make a great living teaching group fitness classes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about the hourly rate/salary opportunities for group fitness instructors? Let me know in the comments!


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.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Gaining Experience, Get Hired as a Group Fitness Instructor, How to Become a Fitness Instructor

How to Gain Experience As a Group Fitness Instructor

As you have probably experienced at one point in your lifetime, one of the biggest issues for professionals entering any new field is that of experience. In group fitness, many gyms won’t even consider you as a candidate if you have been teaching for less than a year, let alone freshly certified with no classes under your belt. There IS hope though. Here’s how you can gain the experience you need to land a job as a group fitness instructor.

Organize a free class

A great way to start practicing your skills, build confidence as an instructor, and gain momentum in your teaching career is to teach free classes. There are several ways to host:

  • Start your own group through an event meetup site or offer to host on an existing group.
  • Host your own parties or gatherings with friends.
  • Put your name on the list of available instructors at a fitness clothing store (such as Lululemon or Athleta)

Just remember to protect yourself by obtaining liability insurance and collecting waivers from all participants.

Offer to Sub Classes

Subbing classes is my #1 Tip for getting hired as a fitness instructor at a studio or fitness facility. Hiring managers need too know that you are

  1. Skilled in your designated format
  2. Trustworthy, meaning that you show up when you say you will and are available when needed most.

Once they see that you are a great addition to the team at their studio, they will search for ways to get you a class on the schedule.

Post Videos on Social Channels

Having content on a social channel is a great way for companies to know that you are passionate about what you do and in it for the long haul. In fact, many applications ask for social media accounts, so they can check out your personality and style. I say, if you can carve out the time:

  • Film at least video per week displaying you working out/practicing. Teaching videos are best for the obvious benefit of showcasing your expertise, but any film of you performing in your designated format will work.
  • Post the videos across as many channels as possible. Instagram is one of the most popular right now (in 2019), but Facebook TV and YouTube are strong platforms as well. Plus, with YouTube (or Vimeo), you can embed videos onto your website.

If you’re serious about a career in fitness, make it your mission gain as much experience in the first year as possible. It will not only make you a better instructor, but it will give you the opportunity to gain a solid base of references you can lean on when the time comes to obtain a job.

The Magic Year Mark

Take it from someone who has been there, once you hit that magical 1 year experience mark, the % of callbacks will skyrocket. You just have to get over that hump.

What are you doing to gain experience now? Share your thoughts and any questions in the comments below!

And good luck 😉


Posted in Dance Fitness, Group Fitness Formats, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

What It’s Like to Be a Dance Fitness Instructor

I spent much of my childhood in dance school. I didn’t stick with it. At 10, I gave up ballet for basketball, but once a dancer, always a dancer. So as I entered into my career as an instructor, dance fitness seemed like a natural fit. If you’re thinking about taking this path, you’re in luck. Here’s what it’s like to be a dance fitness instructor:

Technique is Secondary.

You don’t have to be a dancer or even be great at dancing in order to be a dance fitness instructor. Your goal is to make the class physically challenging and fun. You’re ahead of the curve if you can:

  • Move to the beat, also known as teaching “on-tempo”
  • Teach while dancing (which is much harder than it looks)
  • Learn or create choreography fairly quickly

Gym Members Don’t Have Dancer Goals.

Although anyone who attends a dance class would like to look good while dancing, their biggest goals are actually to:

  1. Burn a ton of calories
  2. Have LOADS of fun

Your ability to keep movements simple and tailor them to fit all levels of fitness will be key in building up your classes and giving members a good experience. Just remember that if you’re interested in teaching at a fitness studio, you’ll need to be qualified as a group fitness instructor.

You Are Constantly Performing.

Although your workouts should always be student-focused, the reality is that many of them show up to watch YOU dance. Think about it. When you dance, your vibration skyrockets! You EXUDE energy, style, confidence, and (more often than not) a whole lot of sex appeal. So don’t be surprised, when you’re teaching and your classes seem like this:

  • Your students’ level of intensity = 60-75%
  • Your level of intensity = 90-100%

That leads me to another point…

You Burn So Many Calories

I once tracked the amount of calories I burned during an intermediate song while teaching U-Jam Fitness. When I did the math at the end, I realized that I blasted through 1,000+ calories in 60 minutes. Yikes! No wonder I was hungry all the time… Here’s what my routine looked like:

  • Three to five 60 minute dance classes each week.
  • 1-4 hours of prep time per week, learning or reviewing choreography

You Have So Much Fun

At the end of the day, being a dance fitness instructor is just plain fun! You get to earn a living leading a 60 minute dance party several times a week. Although it definitely requires effort, you leave each class feeling like you shared the best part of yourself with your students. And they leave feeling connected to others who love to dance just like they do.

What has your experience of dance fitness classes been like? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Keep dancing 🙂


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.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, How to Become a Fitness Instructor

How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor

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 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!)
  • Spinning/Cycling

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.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Get Hired as a Group Fitness Instructor, How to Become a Fitness Instructor

Get Hired as a Group Fitness Instructor: My #1 Tip

Whether you just got certified as a group fitness instructor or you’re looking to add new classes to your schedule, getting hired can be an intimidating process. But after so many years in the business, I’ve found one way to land a class that works about 90% of the time.

My #1 Tip: Get On a Sub List

Probably the fastest path to landing a class of your own on a gym or fitness studio’s schedule is by getting on their sub list. In my experience, you can never have too many subs to call upon in a time of need. The last thing popular studios want to do is cancel a class. That’s a thing for their members and for you!

How to Get On the Sub List

The process of getting on a sub list can be smooth and seamless if you go about it the right way.

Attend classes in your chosen format.

Want to teach kickboxing? Become a regular student in a class taught by your favorite instructor or at least by someone whose style is similar to your own. Make it your goal to excel in class and to show up consistently once or twice a week.

Tell your instructor you’re available.

After a few weeks of attending classes, casually let your instructor know that you’re certified and available to sub if they need it. More often than not, they will be super grateful. After all, you:

  1. Know the group
  2. Are skilled in the format
  3. Are already available at the time you need them.

It’s a win-win for everyone!

Ask for a referral.

Hiring managers can sometimes be skeptical of new instructors coming on board, especially those with very little experience in the field. When I just started, my instructors and master teachers told me I had the skills, but managers did a double take with the fact that I had less than a year of experience (the minimum standard for most gyms). Having the instructor’s support will go a long way in overcoming those pre-set barriers. So make sure to…

  • Ask for an introduction. Ask your instructor if they would mind introducing you to the group fitness manager or whoever is in charge of hiring instructors. Most likely, they will be happy to help.
  • Follow up over email. Get your instructor’s contact information and shoot a quick email to say thank you in advance for the introduction.

Lean on Master Trainers

Instructors who led your format trainings usually keep in touch with their students. They often know of new opportunities that rise up or are able to connect you to people in your area who are teaching and need subs.

Utilize them as an ongoing resource. They want to see you succeed as much as I do 🙂

Good luck!

Next Step: Auditioning. Click here if you want to know what to expect.

PS – If you found this blog helpful and/or it landed you an opportunity, please let me know in the comments! And since I know you love fitness, nutrition, and wellness as much as I do, join the community on Facebook!

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Audition Tips, Group Fitness Audition

What to Expect at a Group Fitness Audition

So, you’ve landed an interview with a local fitness studio or gym and now they’ve asked you to come in for an audition. Whether it’s your first or your first in quite some time, it can calm your nerves to know what the process is like. Here’s what you can expect at a group fitness audition.

First Up: The Demo

In the world of group fitness, an audition is your opportunity to show the general manager and fitness director what you can bring to the class setting. That means, they will ask you to lead a mini demo class, which will likely include.

  • A brief introduction
  • A warm-up
  • A main block of exercises
  • A cool down

Know that you will likely be auditioning in a room alone with the people evaluating you, but some larger fitness centers like to host group auditions where you are required to participate as students for the other instructors while you await your turn to teach. I love group auditions because it’s much easier to teach to a room with energetic people rather than to imaginary students. The exact exercises/choreography you teach will be based on the format you are being hired for.

Second Level Criteria: Proficiency

Anyone can memorize a sequence of exercises, but what your assessors are looking for during a group fitness audition are:

  • Aligned movements a.k.a. good form and technique in your physical demonstrations.
  • Strong, efficient verbal cues that guide students from one exercise to the next smoothly and safely.
  • The ability to offer options for modifications when needed and corrections for students whose form and technique are off.
  • Smooth transitions from one section to the next, without a ton of note checking or stammering.

These elements show off your experience and expertise, which they know is key to helping students feel safe in the classroom.

Final Level: Energy

Last, but certainly not least, group fitness instructors are expected to bring a positive, vibrant spirit to every class they teach. GMs want people people on their teams who will make students feel like they had an amazing experience, even if the workout was hard! Bring a TON of energy to the table during your audition and, as long as the other elements are in place, you are sure to blow them away.

If you need more help crushing your audition, check out my blog titled: How to Rock Your Group Fitness Audition. And just remember, if you’re super new, it may take a handful of auditions before a studio gives you a chance to work for them. Don’t take it personally. Just refine your routine for the next audition and try again.

Good luck!


PS – If any of these tips helped you rock your audition, I’d love to know! Leave a note in the comments below 🙂 Also, follow me on Instagram.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Audition Tips, Group Fitness Audition

How to Rock Your Group Fitness Audition

Auditioning is an essential part of being a fitness instructor, especially if you’re just starting out. A group fitness audition gives managers and lead teachers the opportunity to see your personality and your skill level when it comes to organizing a class, cueing movements, assisting students, and keeping them engaged. It’s all the gateway that will get you on a studio or gym’s sub list and eventually land you a class on the schedule. Here’s how to rock your group fitness audition so you have GMs begging you to join their team.

Know the Guidelines

Each studio has it’s own way of conducting auditions. Make sure you’re clear on what each gym expects from you well before your audition date. Guidelines include:

  • How long you are expected to teach.
  • What they would like you to focus on. For example, do they expect a warmup or should you jump right into the a main workout?
  • Will you be alone or will you be auditioning with other instructors?

If your contact person at the studio doesn’t share this information right away, reach out via email or give them a call and ask. This may even give you a leg up during your audition for doing your due diligence.

Plan & Practice Your Routine

It can’t be said enough. Preparation is a key aspect of being a successful and engaging group fitness instructor. The more familiar you are with the workout you are delivering, the more confident and grounded you will feel. So make sure to:

  • Write out your workout at least 1 day before. I recommend up to a week for brand new instructors (more for choreographed formats like dance).
  • Practice going through the movements and cueing out loud. If possible, recruit a loved one or a friend to join you and give you feedback. If that’s not possible, film yourself. You’ll have a good idea of what you look like to others that way.
  • Adjust your workout based on feedback. Ask your friends for feedback or watch your video to see which areas are working well and which ones need improvement. Then practice again to dial it in.

Pro Tip: For seasoned instructors, choose a workout you have already delivered and know well. When I do this, I NAIL the audition 99% of the time 😉

Walk In with a Energy & Positivity

Research shows that it takes a few seconds to form a first impression. And in the group fitness sphere, the stakes are higher. Group fitness instructors are often the main line of connection between students and their fitness centers, which is why we must bring enthusiasm, optimism, and confidence to every class we teach. It’s easy to get caught in audition day nerves. My suggestions:

  1. Plan to arrive early. Nothing adds to your nerves more than rushing into the studio at the last minute for an interview or worst, being late. Allow yourself an extra 15 minutes to arrive, find out where you’re supposed to be, and sit for a few minutes. You can also use this time to review your audition set.
  2. Listen to music that pumps you up on the way. On your commute, tune into a playlist that lights your inner fire and makes you feel like a winner! If you don’t have one yet, make one. Or feel free to use one of my playlists (PS – Body Challenge 10 is my fav!).
  3. Remind yourself that you KNOW the workout. All you have to do is deliver it, just like any other day.

Have Fun

When it’s all said and done, don’t forget that one of the reasons you’re in this biz is because you enjoy sharing your love of fitness with other people. When you think about it that way, the audition is simply a means to you gaining access to fulfilling your personal mission as a group fitness instructor and living the dream by getting paid for it!

Best of luck to you if you have an audition coming up! If you need any additional pointers, leave a comment below! Also, make sure to LIKE my Facebook Page and head over to the fitness, nutrition, and wellness goals community group where I post a ton of content that will help you feel healthier, happier, and stronger.

Be Happy. Be Healthy. Be Well.