Taking the Steps to Become an Instructor of Group Ex: Part I

“So, how do I become a fitness instructor?” — this is the question I hear most from people when they learn I that I teach fitness classes (click here to check out the blog I wrote about how I got into teaching).

Over the next few blogs, I will cover the steps I took to go from being a group ex class taker to a FWABulous instructor. If you have ever thought of teaching, here is a road map for you to follow:

Find a mentor. I was fortunate to have Suzie, the colleague who provided me with my first opportunity to teach when she needed someone to take over her cardio kickboxing class. It's a good idea to team up with a seasoned instructor who will be happy to answer your questions about everything from getting certified (more on that in a moment) to what music to use in class. Suzie worked with me one-on-one and gave me opportunities to team teach with her, so I would feel comfortable in front of a class. To find a mentor, contact a gym and ask for the group fitness coordinator. This person should be willing to answer your questions or direct you to one of his/her instructors who would. (And of course, I'm always willing to help, too!)

Get certified. Any gym worth working for requires its instructors to be certified. Now, everyone and his brother offers fitness certifications for everything from personal training to pilates, but here’s my advice: the best certification for anyone to start out with is a basic group ex cert. This is the cert that gyms look for, because it provides a basic knowledge of everything from the anatomy of the body to the anatomy of a fitness class. After you have this cert, you can always pick up a specialized one in spin or Zumba or something else, depending on what formats you want to teach. But, get this one first. 

Pick a certifying organization. My group ex cert is from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, which is one of the most widely known fitness organizations among instructors. Other respected organizations that offer group ex certs include the American Council on Exercise  and SCW Fitness Education. The AFAA group ex cert is about $300, but bear in mind that once you’re certified, you will have to renew it every two years, which involves additional costs. AFAA offers certs all over the world, so it shouldn’t be too tough to find one in your area.  

Get CPR certified. Most gyms will also require a CPR certification, and it's likely you will be required to get this to receive your group ex cert. I'd recommend going with the American Heart Association's cert because it lasts for two years (click here to find a class near you). (The Red Cross also offers a cert, but it has to be renewed each year.) 

So, there are a few steps to get you started. Stay tuned for next week’s blog, where I’ll get into preparing for and taking the test. Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous!