Group X: The Recipe for a Successful Career as an Instructor
Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine that people used to use the term “fitness craze” to refer to certain programs as a fad. We’ve come so far from those days — today fitness has become part of our lifestyle. More and more people are participating in some type of fitness program and with that, instructor-led group programs are more popular than ever.
Thanks to programs like Silver Sneakers® and Zumba® Kids, people of all ages are getting and staying involved with fitness. As more and more people make fitness a part of their lifestyle, they see becoming an instructor as a great career opportunity, which it most certainly is. With the burgeoning popularity of so many different types of group fitness classes, the need for certified, talented instructors is greater than ever. And, as a result of the growth of niche studios and programs that focus on unique class formats and the robust training programs associated with them, people can easily gain access to many different types of certifications.
When considering a career as a group fitness instructor, although getting certified to teach a program like Zumba or Barre Method can get them there quickly, it’s important instructors consider their long-term goals. Often, people with these types of certifications forego programs like AAFA that can help a prospective teacher learn the fundamentals of instruction. Make sure your instructors have a firm grasp of basic principals like count structure, music selection and physiology — it’s so incredibly important in developing versatile instructors. An instructor with these skills can essentially teach any program! They are able to bring a level of knowledge and creativity to a fitness program that will make them a key asset in a gym’s success.
An instructor who can teach multiple types of classes, from dance to yoga to strength training, and who can create new programs is an instructor that has a long career ahead of them. Gym owners can easily recognize these types of people and should help foster their creativity, and open opportunities for them to have more responsibility.
It’s not to say that learning to teach a specific program is not valuable, it just can be limiting when looking to have a full-time, long-lasting career as a fitness instructor. And, as a gym owner or program director, it’s important to recognize the difference between those instructors who learned to teach a class, and those that have been trained to develop and instruct group fitness programming.
It’s a bit like the difference between hiring a sous chef who can perfectly recreate the dishes designed by the head chef, versus hiring someone who has been to culinary school and has the fundamental training to recreate those dishes and create their own dishes in the future.
Donna Cyrus is the senior vice president of programming for Crunch Fitness.