So You Want to be a Fitness Instructor…

Hey friends!

How’s it going?

Peachy, peachy.


As you probably know, I am passionate about being a fitness instructor. I love it. LOVE it.

so you want to be a fitness instructor

{yesterday, after coaching GRIT}

And I also really love sharing about my experiences so I can help YOU–any of you–who want to be one too. Now or later.

I’m going to be honest in this post though too, simply because I don’t want to sugarcoat it. There are most definitely upsides & downsides, pros & cons, to being a fitness instructor. So I thought I’d share a few that were highlighted in 2 awesome articles.

20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Group Fitness or Yoga Instructor


25 Habits of Amazing Fitness Instructors

If you are truly wanting to be a fitness instructor (yayyyy!!!), there are some things you must know (we’ve covered a few already). And some more questions you have to ask yourself.

1. Is my primary reason for wanting to become an instructor that “I love taking classes”?

There is a huge, often-underestimated gap between “taking classes” and “teaching classes”. This is the number one question you should ask yourself (and be honest!) when considering the career. Many people try their hand at fitness instruction, and fail – because at the end of the day, they’re just not teachers. There are coaches and there are athletes – sometimes they are one and the same, but often they are not.

On the other hand, if you don’t love taking classes, you have a much bigger problem. You can’t teach something if you don’t understand the pleasure derived from your students.

2. Do I have a utopian view of what it means to be a fitness instructor?

Quiz: What do instructors do when they are not teaching?

  1. Drink green juice and go shopping at Lululemon.
  2. Stuff.
  3. Educate themselves, spend hours scoping new music for playlists, create class plans, practice new moves, connect with their clients over social media, maybe maintain a blog, do shitloads of laundry, commute to other classes, take classes from other instructors, the list goes on…

And a sub-question: Do I think that I’m going to be an overnight sensation?

A little confidence is a good thing, but make sure you have realistic expectations for your career trajectory. Even the youngest, most popular instructors you know had to put in their fair share of empty and half-empty classes before they started filling up. Coming into the industry, you need confidence that you can achieve greatness – but be realistic about the time frame that will require.

{from this article}


By the way, it is HARD work to build classes. I’m not trying to scare anyone away, I’m just being realistic. It’s totally exciting, envigorating, and ecstatic-inducing when you do, but it takes time, effort, and work.

I was hired on as a Zumba sub at one gym, and I subbed my little heart out. And then I got my own class. And then I built that one. And got a few more. And had to give some up in the process (not enough time in the week!), but it simply proves that if you put the effort & work in, you can build a class. But just be realistic when you start out.

so you want to be a fitness instructor

Some other HUGE things to consider:

5. Do I understand the time and cost associated with becoming an instructor?

If you’re not certified already, consider at least starting, if not completing, a certification program before taking the leap. This will open your eyes in more ways than one, and give you a sense of whether this is where you passion truly lies.

At the very least, do the math before you leap – know how much the programs cost.

6. Do I understand that learning doesn’t stop after I get my certification?

Fitness is changing every day. Research is conducted, old standards are challenged. As an instructor, you have to commit to a lifetime of learning, and an ability to adapt as new information in exercise physiology is released. Make sure you don’t walk into a fitness career thinking your certification is one-and-done.

7. Am I realistic about the economics of group fitness?

Have I done my research? Do I know what fitness instructors make in my area (high, medium and low?) Have I reviewed the best and worst case scenarios? Can I afford to do this, or am I willing to make the life changes to allow me to pursue this career?

Hint: The majority of groupex instructors aren’t exactly rolling in Benjamins. This is a labor of love for most. Of course, you CAN make good money – but do the math before, not after.

{from this article}

The above points are crucial to consider. And I didn’t really consider ’em…simply because I wanted it so so bad, I didn’t care how much time & money it would cost. (Not necessarily the bessssttt way to do things, but ya know).

So if money or time or continuing education is a concern, think about those things first!

so you want to be a fitness instructor

Being an Excellent Instructor

As for what habits make excellent instructors, we’ve already covered a few (and the opposites), but here are some that this article pointed out that I completely agree with!

1. Arrive Early.

…To mingle, not just set up your mic. It’s the best way to get to know your clients and their needs before class starts. Make your way around, find out who’s new, who has injuries, who’s nervous. This will pay huge dividends, especially if you remember and use the information you collect.

2. Own the room from minute 1.

I love when I walk into class and immediately know who the instructor is, not because they’re fumbling with the sound system, but because they’ve got that confident instructor swagger. Even if you’re nervous, suck it up and step into your instructor super-suit. You’re about to teach me. I want you to be confident and competent. Oh…and SMILE.

3. Hook up your iPod before class starts.

I love to be greeted by some pre-class pump-up tunes. It’s the same concept as foreplay, people… Get me ready for the main attraction. This isn’t just a high-intensity class thing. I love some softer music before a slower class, too.

13. Don’t ask me, tell me.

You are the instructor. I want you to be firm in your instruction. Remove the upward inflection at the end of your sentences. When every command sounds like a question, it makes me wonder if you know what you’re doing.

21. Make eye contact.

…with ME. Not with the mirror or with the cute girl next to me. Look into my eyes! I’m not a wolf. I won’t take it as a sign of aggression and jump for your jugular. Typically. Unless you’re pregnant with a half vampire baby and I’m trying to mate with the baby before it’s born.

22. Learn my name, and use it.

Everyone loves to hear their name, especially when attached to a compliment. It’s a true skill to remember names, but it can be honed (there are a lot of brain-training games that can help).

23. Embrace the potentially embarrassing side effects of your class.

Sometimes, we don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. When my muscles fail or when my pores start projectile squirting or when my flying crow plummets to the earth, I need some reassurance. For example, in barre class, when my legs shake like a hot potato, say “YES! THAT SHAKING MEANS YOUR BODY IS CHANGING!” Or if I’m trying a headstand and I fall, say “Falling is great! I’d rather see you try and fall than not try at all!”

{from this article}

I love these so so much. Music. Eye contact. Names. Making a fool of yourself (and being okay with it). Arrive early. Own the room.

so you want to be a fitness instructor

These things make a good instructor excellent. So if you’re already an instructor, DO these things! And if you’re not one yet, learn from those who do & incorporate them into your class once you are.

As always, feel free to email me with questions!! EnjoyYourHealthyLife {at} gmail {dot} com


Thankful Thursday

  1. I am thankful for the sunshine!!!! Ahhhhhh it makes me so so happy!
  2. I am grateful for a husband who loves me enough to take time out of his busy schedule to put me to bed, before continuing on with his long nights of homework. He is too good to me!
  3. I am super thankful I get to go to BLEND & hang out with other Blenders! hehe :)

Have a GREAT day, ya all! <3

What are some things YOU would definitely consider before becoming a fitness instructor?? What do YOU think makes an instructor excellent??? Instructors: what did YOU find most helpful in YOUR journey?? What are YOU all thankful for today??!

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  1. someday i would loooove to be a fitness instructor and/or personal trainer. not enough time right now though! i know there’s SO much more to being an instructor than just showing up for class! realistically, i can’t imagine teaching a class AND working out simultaneously! kudos to you, lady! you’re one fabulous teacher!!

  2. These are great tips! I still wish I lived remotely in your area of the country so I could go to one of your classes! I have a feeling you’d kick my butt. Btw, just catching up with blogs this week and I love the new layout! Looks great!

  3. loved reading this!

  4. Those are great articles! I am in the first step right now and I’m looking at a NASM personal trainer certificate and then I’ll see where I want to go from there, because I really don’t feel like I’m a teacher (like the first article says) but I am very interested in at least having the opportunity if I want to try it out.

    I’m thankful for my healthy little boy and my career that I enjoy so much!

    • Yes, that is a true point–having a PT cert can often lead to teaching too. And vice versa! It’s nice that you”re open to any opp :)

  5. Great tips from an awesome instructor! 😉

  6. Thank you so much for posting this today. This has come at a point where I have decided to get my personal training certificate and I would love to be a group fitness instructor. I have been very intimidated because I love talking about fitness and healthy eating to friends (ok anyone who will listen lol) but is this enough to make a career? Anyways reading this made me even more determined :)

  7. In a way, I feel like I could be a great fitness instructor. So many of the things you mention in this post apply to teaching, in general (and I’m a teacher). I considered becoming certified, but unless I’m willing to completely change careers, I’m not sure right now is the time. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it part time (that would be awesome!!), but just not right now–things are too busy!!

  8. Love this post, I am in the process of getting my CPT and have thought about getting into teaching classes and this hit on some areas I hadn’t thought of. My favorite instructors are the ones who “take charge from minute 1” like you said, the ones who aren’t timid and aren’t afraid to be up front and show you they know what they are doing. Be fun be upbeat, and do the work. I have had instructors before that simply don’t do the work they are telling you to do…that annoys me to no end. And another thing I think is very important is knowing when to push people and knowing when to hold back. Everyone responds to things differently and everyone needs a different approach.

    • Definitely true–having diff approaches & being able to cater to a crowd def is a skill–and it comes with time, no prob.

      Sounds like you’re pretty revved & ready to go!! yay!

  9. seriously i am so in love with this series because it’s clear how much you enjoy it and you are giving some REALLY straight forward honest opinions to people who might be considering it for all the wrong reasons…or confirming for those considering it!

  10. I’m not looking to be a fitness instructor, but I can always tell when I’m in a class with one who loves his/her work.

  11. Thank you thank you! I am considering becoming a fitness instructor. I love classes but I also love to teach people. I love to have fun with exercise and get really excited to show my workout buddies new things. I have a strong dance and martial arts background, so I feel like I have a lot of solid input to offer people. I am passionate about it, so I think it’s worth the sweat and tears! I know it will be tough but I also feel like it would be a waste of my God-given abilities not to at least try!

  12. Great post!! You lok amazing by the way!

  13. Great post! A friend of mine (also an instructor and an LM trainer) posted the 25 Habits article on FB the other day too – so great to review! I would definitely agree that teaching is a labor of LOVE and not necessarily an economical lifestyle. There are times where I’m getting ready for bed because I teach EARLY the next morning and I grumble, but even then I know that from the moment I get in the parking lot and see a regular walking in and the hour no longer makes a difference. Smile from the inside out.

  14. I’ve always wanted to become a Les Mills Instructor! The biggest obstacle would be being able to coach “talk” when I am tired. When I am taking a class this always goes through my head. Also, remembering each song. But that is what practicing is for right!?!

  15. Great post! I definitely walked into GF with a blind eye and thinking that because I was a good BODYPUMP student that I’d be a good instructor. I didn’t realize how hard it would be initially and that the training fee was just the start of the investment in my new endeavor. (Hello, quarterly shipments!) That said, it’s such an amazing experience that allows you to really grow as a person and athlete.

    By the way, love the shorts! I am on the hunt for something similar for BP classes this summer.

  16. Thank you SO MUCH for this awesome post! I’m teaching my first-ever group exercise classes next Tuesday and these pointers were REALLY helpful. (I was a 4th and 5th grade teacher for 15 years so I’m used to the being-in-front-of-and-commanding-a-room thing!) No matter what, I’m going to keep a smile on my face and remember everyone’s names, to make eye contact, and to be as ridiculously goofy as I usually am :-) I’m sure your classes rock!

  17. Hey! I’m new to your blog and I’m a fellow Utahn:) I love your blog design and you are adorable! Congrats on being pregnant. I have an eight week old baby boy and I’m loving the life of a mom. I have always wanted to be a fitness instructor ever since my sister became a Les Mills instructor years ago (she isn’t currently) I love everything teaching (I’m a 2nd grade teacher) but I never know how to quite get into instructing or whether I’m ready to do it. This may sound silly but I have a high voice so I’m worried I would sound like Minnie Mouse and no one would want to come to my class haha. I would love to take a class from you I bet you are awesome!! I love when instructors use your name in a class. One thing I hate is when you can tell an instructor keeps checking themselves out in the mirror haha- Oh and if their cleavage is bouncing all over the place especially in a spin class!

  18. Love these tips! Another tip- keep the music pumpin’ and the choreo fresh 😉

  19. Thanks for this post! I’m considering getting a certification and starting the process of looking for group ex jobs, and you raised some great points that I didn’t consider yet.

  20. You gotta be one awesome instructor! I love how you laid out everything in this post. Keep rockin your clients….I know they must be having a ball! 😉

    Btw…awesome blog!



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