Teaching fitness classes is the perfect job for exercise aficionados who want to help others get active. Rehearsing your class and practicing your leadership style will help your class run as smoothly as possible. As the instructor, how the class runs is up to you—you set the tone and intensity, so how you present yourself is important! Taking time to plan beforehand and take fitness teaching training will help you become the best instructor you can be for your classes.
EditBuilding Your Expertise
- Get certified as a fitness instructor. Most gyms like to hire instructors with recognized credentials. Train for a certification registered with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to strengthen your teaching skills and increase your professionalism.
- Look for fitness instructor openings at your local gym. Apply for an open job listing or contact gyms directly to see if any of them need new instructors. If not, talk to them about volunteer opportunities. Some gyms look for instructors to teach classes for free or in exchange for a membership.
- Find a workout mentor who can advise you on your teaching skills. Ask a more experienced fitness instructor if they could sit in on one of your classes. Have them take notes on what you’re doing well and where you could improve for future classes.
- It’s best to have a formal mentor who has a certification that allows them to provide formal and written feedback about your performance. They will have a fee for their services, but you will know that you are getting good and appropriate advice.
- Some areas may not require formal mentors to have a certification, so check the laws for your area.
- Attend other instructors’ classes to learn new techniques. Everyone’s teaching style is different, and you might learn new ways of motivating clients or organizing your classes. Sample a few classes at your gym and take notes afterward about what you liked, what you didn’t like, and how you can adapt your classes based on your experience.
- Attend a fitness instructor convention. Register for a well-known fitness instructor convention to connect with other instructors and attend helpful teaching workshops. Getting to know more fitness instructors can expand your network and list of resources for teaching classes.
- Read the convention schedule beforehand so you know where the classes most relevant to your interests will be.
EditRehearsing Your Classes
- Time your routine to make sure it fits within your class frame. Most gyms set their class times beforehand and require fitness instructors to stay within that frame, usually an hour or hour and a half. Plan a set number of exercises to do during the class and time how long it takes you to go through the routine. Adjust your schedule as needed to fit the time frame.
- Keep in mind that you’ll need to allow time for helping your students or correcting their form.
- Plan warm ups and cool downs into your routine. Get blood pumping, do dynamic stretches, and do range of motion exercises before and after your class’s main exercises to help prevent your clients from straining muscles or burning out. Schedule in at least 5-10 minutes of warm ups and cool downs for a balanced workout.
- Make a playlist of catchy songs with a strong beat. Songs with repetitive, lively beats will be better at motivating your clients than, say, a crooning guitar solo. Make a playlist of songs that will last throughout the entire workout and distract your class from how their bodies feel.
- If you don’t know what to include, try searching a music streaming site like Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube.
- Many classes have prescribed music playlists that you can download for a fee. Look for companies, such as Power music, that compile exercise class playlists with specific beats per minute that progress through an entire workout.
- Set up about 10 minutes before the class begins. If possible, start some music and turn on your microphone at least 5-10 minutes before the class starts. This will help the class atmosphere feel friendly and inviting from the start.
- If any regulars come in early, ask them if they want to help set up so they feel involved.
- Check for technical difficulties before you start the class. Before the class comes in, start your playlist on your laptop or phone to make sure it runs smoothly. Always bring a back-up device (like a CD) in case your first option doesn’t work.
EditConnecting With Your Clients
- Mingle with your clients before the class starts. Before you start each class, spend 5-10 minutes before it starts talking to regulars and getting to know new faces. Establishing yourself as friendly and approachable will increase the likelihood of people going to your classes again.
- You might, for example, ask the whole class how their day was or if they have any fun plans for the weekend.
- Make a goal each class to remember one thing that a class member tells you and ask them about it again the next time you see them.
- Introduce yourself at the beginning of each class. Tell the class your name and a sentence or two about your experience so they can feel connected to you. After you’ve introduced yourself, ask your class about any injuries, pregnancies, or health conditions they might have so you can keep an eye out for those clients.
- You could say, for example, “Hello, my name is Taylor, and I’ve been a yoga teacher for three months here. Before we start the class, can I ask if anyone is pregnant or if there are any health conditions I should be aware of?”
- Shape your leadership strategy based on the class. Some clients prefer a “tough love,” drill sergeant-like instructor while others prefer a kinder, gentler approach. Most will be somewhere along the spectrum. Pay attention to your class as a whole and on the individual level so you can adjust your encouragements to what they prefer.
- As you get to know regular clients, you’ll be able to remember what they respond well to.
- Watch for clients who seem to be struggling. If you notice a person or group of people who seem to be falling behind, go out of your way to encourage them. Pay attention to and respond to their reaction—if they want to be pushed hard, help them along but if they don’t like the extra attention, let them exercise at their own pace.
EditBoosting Class Motivation
- Cultivate a positive teaching attitude. Staying positive will help get your clients through tough workouts. Be uplifting in the way you talk to your clients with phrases like, “You’re doing great!” or “Just keep pressing forward!” Remember to smile at your class to show them that you’re happy to be there with them.
- If you seem tired or gloomy, your class may perceive this as disdain for them or the workout.
- Don’t take the workout too seriously. A good sense of humor can go a long way in lifting your class’s spirits.
- Vary your tone of voice. If you shout at your class the entire time, your voice will get hoarse and your class may feel intimidated. But speaking softly for too long may cause your class to lose interest. Change the tone of your voice if you find yourself shouting or whispering too much to hold your class’s engagement.
- Use verbal cues to inform your class about the exercises. Staying silent during the workout may leave your class confused about what they’re doing. Give clear instructions to your class about what workout they’re doing, how many reps they have to go, and what muscles that exercise is strengthening.
- If you’re doing squats with your class, for example, you might say, “These are great for your glutes! 3 more to go!”
- A working knowledge of human anatomy can inform you on what muscles are being worked during exercises so you can cue in your class.
- Count down when doing exercise reps. If you count up (like, “1, 2, 3…”), your class will not know when the rep will end and lose motivation. Counting down (like “10, 9, 8…”) can give your class a definite end so they can pace themselves and avoid burning out too soon.
- You might say, for example, “Alright, now we’re going to do jumping jacks! 10, 9, 8…”
- Keep a clock in plain sight so your class knows how much longer they have until the class ends. A clear finish time can boost your class’s energy through difficult reps.
- Many gyms will cover your insurance, but sometimes you are expected to have your own policy. Check with your gym to find out if you need to buy insurance before you teach classes.
- In the world of group exercise classes, there is no room for sick days or times when you just don’t feel like exercising. Keep in mind that, while teaching fitness classes can be rewarding, it won’t necessarily be fun all the time.
- Usually, teaching fitness classes is a side gig rather than a full time job. If you’re looking for a source of income, find another job to do alongside teaching classes.
- Part of being a fitness instructor involves maintaining good physical health. Take care of your body so you have enough energy to teach classes.
- Like all teaching jobs, being a fitness instructor can sometimes feel thankless. Remember that even if your clients don’t always tell you, you are helping people get in shape and build healthy lifestyles.
EditSources and Citations
<ref> tags exist, but no
<references/> tag was found