Monday, July 16, 2012

How To: Become a Group Fitness Instructor

So, you've been going to group fitness classes for a while and you are wondering what it would be like to become a teacher?

Well, I can tell you what it would be like: AWESOME.

Yeah. Awesome. It's the perfect job if you are passionate about fitness and helping others. You basically get paid to work out AND help other people at the same time. What could be better than that?

Where do you get started?

Well, first you need to think about what classes you REALLY love and are passionate about. I started out as sort of an 'apprentice' at Georgia College with my step aerobics teacher. She would meet with me every morning at 7am and help me come up with combinations and practice. I eventually ended up subbing some of her step classes as well. 

When I transferred to UGA, I wanted to begin teaching there as well, but they required a Group Fitness certification. I decided to go with a certification from AFAA

First of all, it really depends on what your preferred employer requires, but in my opinion, AFAA is a good for group fitness certifications, whereas ACE is good for personal training certifications. Why? Because you can get the AFAA group fitness certification for $99 during one of their APEX deals, while ACE can cost you over $300. ACE is much more in depth, which is why I would suggest it for personal training. 

Again, either one really is fine and you just need to decide which one suits your needs.

What about specialty trainings?

Do I think that you should get certified in a specialty training such as R.I.P.P.E.D.
But, do I also think that you need to get a general Group Fitness Certification through either AFAA or ACE first? 


Because you need to learn the basics first. The 32 count phrase for combinations and the in the music is very important. I also think that it is pretty important to be able to come up with your own 'freestyle' combinations. When I first started teaching, most classes were 'freestyle.' You came up with your own 32 count combinations as opposed to paying a monthly fee to have new choreography sent to you every 3 months. Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with receiving new choreography from a specialized format, but I think it is always a good idea to be able to start from a foundation and understand where the concepts are coming from. 

How should I prepare for my certification workshop?

Read the material that they give you beforehand, attend LOTS of classes, ask other instructors any questions you may have, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

I received my certification, now what?

First, don't forget about your CPR and First Aid certifications. All places should require this and even if for some reason they don't, you need to have it anyway. You never know what may happen and you want to have all of your bases covered.

You should then contact the manager of the facility where you would like to start teaching. Most places will have you come in for an audition and then you will either be hired as a 'student teacher' (where you will team teach with a more experienced instructor before you get your own class) or you will be hired as an instructor if they think you are ready for your own class.

Do not be discouraged if they want you to team teach first! There is nothing wrong with it and you will likely learn a lot from your 'mentor.' 


Not many people can just walk into a studio and automatically be a great instructor. It takes time and practice. You need to learn how to hear the 32 count phrases in the music, be able to cue at the appropriate time, be able to give modifications and safety cues, and much more. 

What about Yoga?

Oh boy, that is another post for another time. But, in a nutshell, I wouldn't recommend any teacher training for yoga that isn't registered through Yoga Alliance. That's just my opinion. 

What about Insurance?

If the facility where you are teaching is not going to provide you with insurance/put you on their insurance, then you DEFINITELY need to purchase some. AFAA has their own insurance that you can purchase, but there are several other companies that provide this type of insurance as well. Please don't think that this isn't necessary, you never know what may go wrong.

Well, that's the basics! Please let me know if you have questions or would like to add anything!