How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor

Every one benefits from a few inside tips before starting a new job.
Here's the list for becoming a GREAT Group Exercise Instructor, and these are my own memories starting out.

Being Discovered:  Begin by taking lots of classes if you aren't already.  Instructors look for model students to encourage to join our field.  It is also crucial to know an experienced instructor that is both your rolemodel and mentor so you can ask them which Group Exercise certifications are high quality, and which gym locations have great instructor policies and have employer support/employee growth if you work for them. CPR certification is a job requirement; ask if your employer will certify you once hired or if you need to obtain the first certification on your own.

Begin as a Sub or Demo: Once certified in Group Ex and CPR (and possibly an initial drug screening if you instruct children), share your contact info with instructors at your club that you like and would like to teach for.  With the Club manager's and instructor's approvals, offer to teach the warm-up or cool-down to gain some experience.  This trial is often unpaid but the practice is priceless.  I taught one regular class and had 5-8 sub requests a week at one large club; the demand for help is high.

Start in the Middle:  For the safety of your participants, start with a class that has no health concerns and is light to moderate in intensity.  Over time you’ll develop a strong education base for special populations, and/or a high fitness level and strong teaching experience for intense/athletic classes.  Nine years ago I taught my first aerobics class to a group of 5 at 120 beats per minute (135-150 BPM is normal).  They were so kind! 

Keep a Choreography Journal:  THIS IS VITAL!!!  Creating new classes is the most time consuming part of this job.  Take the time to write down exercises and patterns as you teach them and include the music and speed the class was taught to.  As you begin to repeat choreography, record any popular new exercises. Within a year you can grab your book and be ready to teach a phenomenal class with a few minutes of prep. Having a journal also decreases the stress of being called in to sub a class with 15 minutes notice.  Organize your book by class type for quicker reference.  I would write my class on a notepad and take the sheet to class inside my cd case.  After 10-15 classes, I would gather all my little notes and record them in a big book; that book ALWAYS stayed at home.

Expand Your Base:  It will become more challenging to attend other classes once you begin teaching.  To keep your choreography fresh, recruit information from free websites like ABCs of Yoga and Turn Step. ACE, IDEA and Cooper Institute's blog have articles to help you improve your teaching presentation and you can search for high quality video demonstrations of your favorite exercises.  With the rise of web education and support, there is a wealth of fitness knowledge available to help you become an A+ instructor.

Related posts by Megan that you may enjoy:
Inside: Personal Trainers
Inside Fitness Conventions: Tips and Secrets
I WANT to do THAT! (…Help?)


  1. It sounds fun and hard to become a group instructor and then keep up with it! It's still a "far-off" dream to maybe someday do it!

  2. Here's a blog on teaching Fitness Education:

  3. Great post,I was checking constantly this blog and i am impressed, after all very useful info specifically the last part.I care for such information much,I was seeking this certain information for a long time,thank you again and again.


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