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November 21, 2011 | Exam Preparation Blog

Becoming a Great Group Fitness Instructor

Lawrence Biscontini leading a group fitness session at the 2011 ACE Fitness Symposium. As a group fitness instructor (GFI) today, you have to keep your eye on two main goals — being professional and popular.

These two qualities may be quite different from one another, but they are interdependent. Your goal should be to strive to be untouchable in both of these categories, so to help you, ACE has a number of resources to help you become the best that you can be!

From preparing for the exam to putting it into practice, we provide an entire career path for today’s professional.


In order to become a great group fitness instructor, earning an accredited, respected credential is critical. The ACE GFI certification is offered through a fair and unbiased examination process in which the questions featured on the exam are written in a way that assesses an individual’s theoretical and practical knowledge.

There are a variety of ACE study materials that include sample test questions, including the online diagnostic practice tests. These questions help you get a feel for the structure and difficulty level of the actual exam questions, but also to get specific feedback on content areas you may know as well as areas you may want to review in more detail before the big day.

If you’re looking for something a little more interactive, consider the Essentials of Group Fitness Instruction: Demos & Drills DVD, which cultivates both popularity and professionalism in future instructors by providing the tools needed to be able to conduct safe and effective cardio, strength, flexibility, and fusion formats. Truth be told, almost everything that today’s GFI need to know to be successful in the industry is discussed in the 3rd edition Group Fitness Instructor manual.

Once you’re certified as an ACE-certified GFI, you need to maintain your certification through continuing education courses to help further your knowledge and skills in order to best serve your students. It is also important to stay on top of the latest trends and research, and the ACE website is a great resource for both ideas and information.

In addition to earning the credential, part of being professional also means having a special skill set. Competent instructors must be able to:

  • Assess a room for safety and cohesiveness
  • Communicate and cue in three dimensions
  • Lead safe and effective group fitness classes from different places within the group exercise space
  • Provide a successful experience for all, including offering progressions and regressions wherever necessary.
  • Conduct safe and effective classes to create a successful experience for everyone in the group.



To survive in a somewhat competitive group fitness market, today’s GFI has to prove popular among class participants. No managers can justify paying an excellent instructor a generous, fair wage for three students in a group fitness class during a primetime slot, no matter how professional they might be.

Popular instructors draw numbers of participants that make the “fishbowl” area of the gyms (the group movement studios) appear to have all the buzz of the hour; it’s the place where everyone wants to be!

Popular instructors realize their role in creating instructor-driven programming based on their personality because they are truly the “software” in the “hardware” of the machinery and equipment of the rest of the gym. Most importantly, popular instructors understand how to create an experience in which everyone in the group feels successful.

Want more great tips on how to excel as an ACE-GFI? Check out some of my best-kept secrets for achieving group fitness success and learn more about how you can go from good to great as a fitness professional!

By Lawrence Biscontini
Lawrence Biscontini, M.A.

Lawrence Biscontini, M.A., creates award-winning group fitness and personal training programming at an international level for clubs and spas, including Equinox, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym International, Bally and Golden Door Spas. As Nutritional Counselor, Biscontini has created complete nutritional menus for spas from Manhattan to Mykonos. He regularly contributes to fitness industry publications, such as AFAA's American Fitness Magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal and Spa Asia. His books include, Cream Rises: Excellence in Private & Group Education, and he dedicates a percentage of his website sales to charity, as well as to inspire career wellness development. As a movement specialist, Biscontini trains celebrity clients, including cast members of ABC TV's soap opera "General Hospital," and has made appearances on CNN Headline News and LIVE! With Regis and Kelly.

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