Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Business Advice, Fitness Professionals, Getting Paid, Subbing Classes

How to Fill Your Schedule as a Group Fitness Instructor

Being a group fitness instructor is a labor of love. Many instructors get into the field because they like exercise and enjoy helping others have fun while getting fit. One of the toughest aspects of this career path is finding enough work to bring in a full time income. I’ve heard some say that it isn’t possible or sustainable, but I disagree. With consistent effort and a game plan, you can learn how to fill your schedule as a group fitness instructor. See my top tips below.

Tip #1: Teach Group Fitness for Multiple Studios

Both large gyms and small studios are constantly hiring group fitness instructors.

In fitness, 20-30 hours a week of scheduled classes can be considered full time work. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will find that many class hours at one location. This means, you may need to work for three or four studios to have the load you desire.

If you’re a skilled instructor with a good reference from another current or former employer, it will be easy to get your foot in the door of new fitness centers. After the audition, managers typically start new hires off with one or two classes to see how their members like them. With the community’s approval, you stand a good chance of being asked to take on more classes. Larger gyms are constantly adding new classes or making changes to their schedule, so with any luck, you’ll be able to steadily gain more classes.

Tip #2: Master a Variety of Group Fitness Formats

An instructor with multiple formats and a few years of experience is a GFM’s gold star!

The most valuable instructors come in two types: 1) highly skilled format specialists and 2) seasoned multi-format instructors.

Although boutique studios that focus on just ONE thing grew in popularity these last couple of decades, there has been a recent shift to specializing in one thing while offering a little bit of everything (think yoga studios that offer pilates, sculpt, or spinning). Larger fitness centers offer a wide range of group fitness classes including but not limited to:

  • Spin/Cycling
  • Treadmill Running
  • TRX Suspension
  • Dance Fitness
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Water Aerobics
  • Circuit Training
  • Cardio Conditioning
  • Step Aerobics

The most common advice I hear given to fitness professionals is to specialize in one thing. I couldn’t disagree more. An instructor trained in multiple formats has a better chance of getting back to back classes and can step up to sub in a pinch. If they are someone students already love, it can open the doors for members trying new offerings. So if you’ve been thinking about picking up a new format, don’t walk. RUN and sign up for a training.

Tip #3: Fill Your Group Fitness Schedule By Subbing

Subs are needed almost daily across studios. Gain a reputation for saying yes when they need you!

A common struggle fitness companies experience is the lack of subs. This has always been an issue, but the problem has grown since the 2020 mass shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since being a GFI is a side-gig for many people, a staggering amount of instructors chose to retire from teaching instead of returning to their gyms once they reopened. Others relocated. This has made it difficult and near impossible to get classes covered when instructors are sick or go on vacation.

Personal Share: That One Time I Was a Go-To Sub

There was a short period of time when I cleared my class schedule to work as a part time staff blogger at LoveToKnow. While that took up about 20 hours per week, I made it a point to get in anywhere from 8-10 additional hours of subbing (my teaching rate was double my writing rate). Even now, as a full time instructor, I can easily pick up an additional 4-5 hours a week. I don’t because recovery is an important part of the job. However, the opportunities are there if I want or need them.

Check Frequently for Sub Opportunities

Most studios have a specific format for sending sub requests via email or text. Check your inbox regularly for open opportunities. Make it a point to respond quickly whether or not you’re available, that way other teachers know to contact you next time they’re in need. Note: Weekends, early mornings (think 5:30 to 7:00am start times), and holidays are particularly difficult to fill, so if you have openings during those days and/or times, you are a fitness manager’s savior! Some studios even pay a bonus for these slots on top of your hourly rate. So if you’re free, why not?

Tip #4: Ask About Open Slots in the Group Fitness Schedule

Group fitness instructors who ask more often for open slots get more slots.

The day I started sharing my open availability with my group fitness managers (GFMs) was the day my class schedule finally filled up. GFMs at large fitness centers are constantly reaching out to their reliable instructors to get them on the schedule for more classes. When I just started as a group fitness instructor, I often got frustrated when my availability didn’t match up to the days and times my managers sent me. One day, instead of getting frustrated, I simply said “I’m not available that day, but I have open slots on X and X days between X and X times.” Even if there were no slots currently available, I put it in their mind that I was interested in taking on more, so they continued asking. Note: This is also a great way to shift into your ideal schedule.

Although it didn’t happen right away, within a year, I had about 18 classes on the schedule across 3 studios. That didn’t include 1:1 training clients and subbing opportunities, which often raised my total hours to about 25 per week. 

Start Filling Your Schedule As a Group Fitness Instructor Today

If someone ever tells you that it’s not possible to make a full time living as a GFI, tell them they’re wrong! Just like any career, if you’re truly dedicated to teaching, you have to put in the work. With a little persistence, a commitment to honing your craft, and a reputation as a reliable fitness professional, you’re bound to build the class load you desire. Although it may take some time to fill your schedule as a group fitness instructor, it IS possible. If there’s one or more steps above you haven’t yet taken, I recommend that you start today. I have faith in you ❤️

Good Luck,


Want to see more of the content I create? Find all my latest content on my Instagram channel @transformwithnadia

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Confidence, Gaining Experience, How to Become a Fitness Instructor, My Life In Fitness, Personal Growth, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

5 Reasons I Shouldn’t Have Become a Group Fitness Instructor

In this world, we are often taught to base our future careers off of what we have already done in the past, along with our strongest skill sets. When I set out to become a group fitness instructor, all I had was a love of kickboxing and a lifetime of playing sports to back me. What I didn’t know was that I lacked many skills, qualities, and habits that were fundamental to a life in fitness. That’s why today I’m sharing 5 Reasons I Shouldn’t Have Become a Group Fitness Instructor.

Reason 1: I’m An Introvert

Who knew that enjoying the workout was completely different from leading and creating engaging group fitness classes? If you’re not up on Myer’s Briggs, a key identifying personality trait is introversion versus extroversion. Whereas extroverts have a tendency to really enjoy being around others, to thrive in social situations, and display a range of positive and intense emotions, introverts are the opposite. They tend to:

  • Prefer being alone or in the company of a small, select group of friends
  • Come off as socially awkward or uninterested
  • Experience a wide range of emotions inwardly, but channel it inward instead of expressing it outwardly

I credit John Heringer, Chief Motivator at Fast Action Training (now Method3 Fitness) for being the first to point out that I needed to speak more, get louder, and bring the intensity so I could motivate our clients. I can’t say it was easy, but these are skills I was able to learn and I continue to refine them even now!

Reason 2: I’m Asthmatic

If you read my previous blog about That One Year I Joined the Cross Country Team, you got a sampling of what it was like for me to be an athlete with asthma. But the truth is, as an adult I never realized it could have an impact on my chosen career path. In fact, when I first start out as a fitness professional, I didn’t have an inhaler (Remind me to come back to the problem of insurance in a later post). And yet I taught the following formats:

I never actually thought that I couldn’t hang… until I couldn’t anymore. Long story short, I started getting sick due to my workload. When I finally realized it was the asthma, instead of quitting I decided to give up my most intense classes and focus on a path that was more sustainable. I realized that being an asthmatic fitness professional wasn’t a no-go. But for me, avoiding burnout required me to plan smarter, not work harder.

Reason 3: I Was Out of Shape

I discovered fairly quickly after entering into the fitness profession maintaining a full time fitness schedule was physically and mentally demanding to say the least! When I first started out, I taught an average of 4-6 classes each week. After each class shift, which varied in length from one to three classes, I went home and crashed. If I wasn’t working, I was usually sleeping. Even 10 hour nights weren’t enough, until I:

Hey, if my job is to help others get healthier, I had to make sure I was healthy too, from the inside out.

Reason 4: I Wasn’t Skinny

“Weight” and “body fat loss” are major drivers within the fitness industry. Although those words never entered my thoughts when I was doing my research, I’ve heard from instructors all over the country how it affects the way they are viewed and treated. There’s this idea that we should “be the example” for our students. But in my opinion, the goals we set as individuals, both teachers and students, vary widely. Why assume that weight loss is the goal? There are many others:

Most students will never feel skinny. It’s not the instructor’s responsibility to make them feel that way either. But it is our job to deliver an effective and inspiring workout.

Reason 5: Zero Experience Teaching

Well… zero experience is a bit of an exaggeration. As a matter of fact, in grad school I was a teaching assistant. So I’d given lectures and led labs on how to effective qualitative research. Not to mention that one time I organized and lead a merengue and bachata meetup. But I guess that’s not the same. I’ll never forget that first interview I had.

“So you’ve NEVER lead a group fitness class before?” This was John from FAT.

I told him point blank. “No.”

But it wasn’t a deal breaker. And, seven and a half years later (at the time I’m writing this post), I’m still teaching there. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John and his team (especially Lead Coach Keith) for taking a chance on me and for helping me develop the skills I have today. They emphasized the fact that I shared the values and I found very quickly that it was the right studio for me. And over time, I gained more experience, there and at other studios.

The Lesson: Keep Learning. Keep Growing.

I’ve never been one to sweat the details of what I CAN’T do. And what I’ve learned in my career as a fitness professional is that, if there’s something I don’t know how to do, with some time and effort, I can figure it out. As a matter of fact, LEARNING has always been my greatest skill and my favorite thing to do. If you can teach yourself to not only enjoy, but become good at THAT, just imagine what you can do… even if there are reasons you shouldn’t.

Until next time 🙂


Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Benefits & Perks, Confidence, How to Become a Fitness Instructor, Personal Growth, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

Haters Gon Hate: When People Say Your Job Isn’t a “Real” Job

Not too long after I’d first become a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, I had a strange experience with an old friend. It’s 3:00PM on a Friday afternoon. We made plans to hit the beach for happy hour cocktails and he’s running several hours late. No text or call, presumably because of his busy schedule. Since I know he’s pretty flaky, I decide to go alone. It’s an hour long drive to the beach and if I get there early, I’ll have a nice view of the ocean from the bar patio.

As I’m driving, I get a call from you know who.

I pick up with my car’s bluetooth. “I already left.” I smiled. He is not amused. He huffs and haws trying to convince me to turn around. I won’t. “Sorry friend. The bus has left the station.”

“Some of us have to work real jobs in order to pay the bills,” he says.

I did a double take. Hater much? This was the first time I’d heard anyone say something like this about the work that I do and it surprised me. What I wanted to say was…

  1. I woke up at 5:00am to prepare for my day and show up for my 6:00am shift.
  2. I worked continuously without a break, serving 4 small group training sessions, 1 cardio class, responding to client emails, and making phone calls till 12:30.
  3. I do this same work 5 days a week then when I go home I plan, create, and schedule content for my blogs and social pages.

Instead, I said “Enjoy your day!” then hung up. Later that day, as I sat by the beach, sipping margaritas, I thought about it some more. I could see why my job might feel “unreal.” Getting out of work before 1:00pm on a Friday to hit the beach is one of the many perks many people never get to experience. But here’s the truth:

It is no mistake that I chose a career path that is both fulfilling for me spiritually and beneficial for my well being. I took the time to explore what I love, what I am good at, and what will ultimately pay the bills. I put in the WORK to find the path I am on now.

Being a fitness professional is physically demanding and can often be emotionally taxing too. I had to work at becoming an skilled, engaging instructor.

And I am so grateful to be able to say that I love what I do. I wish for everyone who is dissatisfied with their jobs to find a path that creates happiness, not only in their lives but in the lives of others too. But for now, I don’t fault anyone for feeling a little jealous. I’d be jealous too 😉 



Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Body Fat Loss, Confidence, Weight Loss, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

Hard Truth: You’ll Never Feel Skinny

One thing I’ve realized as a fitness instructor is that bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Those who work out… specifically women who work out, want the perfect weight and proportions. But here’s the hard truth: You’ll never feel skinny. I tell you why I feel this way in today’s blog.

“I Just Want to Look Like You!”

As a group fitness instructor, people tend to idolize my shape, whether I’m carrying a few extra pounds (bingeing on pizza will do that to you) or I’ve slimmed to my skinniest (teaching high intensity classes will do that too!). I can’t tell you the amount of times a student has come up to me after class and said “I just want to look like you. Then I’ll be happy.” But here’s what I’ve actually noticed:

  1. Our bodies don’t work like most people expect them to. When it comes to exercise and dieting, you can’t predict where exactly you will lose the fat that you want. Sometimes it comes of the places that you want it in. Your breasts and butt first if you’re gifted like I am (note the hint of sarcasm in that one?), your tummy and thighs last. And PS – those bat wings may never go away!
  2. What you see in the mirror doesn’t fix deeper, internal issues. If you’re unhappy with your life, changing the way you look may make you feel better temporarily, but not for the long haul. I’ve seen women and men of all ages achieve their weight and body fat loss goals only to set new ones. Or they fall back into old habits, lose confidence, then struggle to make it all happen again.
The Lesson:  Most people are never happy with their bodies, whether they achieve their goal weight or not.

“Hard Bodies” Are Hardly Achievable

But why have we become this way? My take is that we’ve become so used to a steady stream of fitness media that most of us think there’s a RIGHT way for our bodies to look.

  • Toned yet curvy
  • Slim yet voluptuous
  • Strong yet glamorous
  • Sexy yet tasteful

Well here’s a little tidbit from someone who is not only a fitness professional, but also a content creator… those bodies are often over-worked, under-fed, oiled up, spray painted on, AND photo-shopped on top of all that. You can keep lifting and running toward that ideal, but unless you’re a body builder, chances are low that you will ever reach it. Don’t get discouraged, though. I’m here to offer up an alternative…

Stop Aiming for Skinny

I’m not trying to promote any specific physique agenda (even the “strong is the new skinny” campaign has it’s faults). What I’d like instead is for you to start thinking about what’s BEST for YOU.

  • Feeling healthy
  • Being happy
  • Finding a sense of fulfillment

Trying to force your body into a particular shape is like feeding yourself with empty promises.

Figure Out What Brings You Joy.

Are there things that you do once in a while or have done in the past that filled you up with feelings of excitement, peace, or gratitude? Find a way to incorporate at least two or three of those things into your life every week. It could be:

Chances are there are dozens of things like this in your life, but you haven’t taken the time to formally incorporate them into your routine. Make them habits so you can experience that joy regularly.

Take Care of Your Health.

There are a few things you need to stay healthy.

  • Eat nutritious food – Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect. Just taking a little bit of time out each day to learn about nutrition helps
  • Exercise regularly (not religiously) – engage in activities that are fun and make you stronger, even if it’s just nine or ten minutes.
  • Seek emotional/psychological stability – a regular practice of yoga or meditation can help get you started. Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Therapists are a hugely underutilized resource.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Life

Being skinny doesn’t equal being healthy. Nor does it guarantee that you will ever feel good about yourself. But treating your body, mind, and spirit right is a good step toward finding balance and fulfillment. So, to reiterate…

My advice: Stop trying to feel skinny.

Take it from someone who has been larger, smaller, and finally landed at feeling good. Skinny means nothing. And I’d rather put my time and effort into something worthwhile. Wouldn’t you?

Good Luck,


PS – If you’re interested in learning more about building a routine of healthy habits, for a healthy, happy life, PN Coaching might be right for you. It’s a year-long deep dive into a sustainable lifestyle of healthy eating and wellness. Best of all, all lessons are online. Click here to learn more about this life changing program!

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 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 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.