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June 11, 2012, 02:44PM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  1 Comments

Career Guide for Future GFIs (Part 1 of 3)

Group fitness classWelcome to part one of our three-part career starter series for future ACE Group Fitness Instructors (GFIs).  Each blog post in this series will have 8 tips, just like the 8 limbs of yoga, the 8 Movement T’ai Chi brocade, or the 8 original principles put forth in Contrology by Joseph Pilates.  Some of the tips recur because it’s important to revisit some topics periodically at different stages of career development. 

Our goal in this series of 24 tips is to help you to master the two “Ps” of fitness, being “popular” and “professional" in order to set yourself apart as an instructor in the fitness industry.

Tip 1: Know your options

Begin by reading about career options for group fitness instructors, as this will serve two purposes.  First, it will give you some background information about the fitness industry in a global sense, and secondly, it will set a theme for exposing yourself to different approaches from different sources, all throughout the ACE website.

Tip 2: Get acquainted with your craft

Regardless of your past experiences in fitness – or lack thereof – take at least five different types of classes in your local area.  The benefits are too numerous to list here, but it helps you put your finger on the pulse of what’s hot (at least in your geographic area), even if you don’t plan on teaching that particular format.  There are definite trends in fitness that transcend disciplines, so taking different types of classes is beneficial.

Try to take:

  1. A mind-body class
  2. An aqua class
  3. A bodyweight training class
  4. A strength training/fusion class using traditional equipment (like dumbbells)
  5. A strength training/fusion class using at least one newer piece of equipment (like TRX®)

Tip 3: Get trained in CPR and AED

While you’re taking classes, get trained in CPR and AED. This is needed not only to sit for your ACE certification exam, but also to make certain you possess the knowledge, skills and training to ensure your students safety once you are teaching, as well as the safety of students in any of the classes you may be attending.

Tip 4: Get study materials 

You will need to be certified to be credible in the industry, so let the studying begin!  Choosing an internationally recognized certification, such as those offered by ACE is the first step toward career success. Professionals who hold an NCCA-accredited certification possess knowledge and skills that attract worldwide recognition, helping to support your validity and credibility in the industry.

Tip 5: Find a mentor

Find someone you admire in the industry based either on what he or she teaches, or HOW he or she teaches.  If kickboxing is your discipline, for example, go to the best clubs in your area and ask the group fitness managers who are the most popular and professional instructors there. Contact them and ask how you can mentor with them. Also seek out veteran ACE-certified professionals who can provide valuable insight about the fitness industry. As you seek out the best instructors in your geographic area, regardless of their discipline, approach them and discuss your desire to mentor with them, as although you may not learn any specific moves pertinent to your discipline, you will learn about being a consummate fitness professional.

Tip 6: Stay connected

Find out from local group fitness managers what professional alliances in your area share your discipline, and seek out opportunities to stay connected locally and to join online international groups.  If there is a T’ai Chi Association of Pennsylvania and you are in Philadelphia, for example, consider joining it to help keep you connected to a network of instructors and special events. Seek out other networks of fitness professionals from all over the world, and search for opportunities such as career portals and online continuing education that brings you closer to the fitness world around you. 

Tip 7: Get noticed

Create your free ACE online profile by logging into your ACE account. Once you become an ACE certified GFI, anyone looking for a fitness professional in your geographic area, area of expertise, or both, will be able to contact you based on the information you provide.

Tip 8: Start a journal

As you start doing tip #2 above, in your own fitness journal, strive to write down six things you take away from every new class.  First, write down three things you learned to do from that instructor (a transition, choreography block or exercise pattern).  Second, write down three things you learned to say that will enhance your cueing in the future.  To be sure, you may not always find six positive take-away messages from every class you take, which is why it’s important to take classes from the best in your area.

Have you received your materials, but need help preparing for the exam? Sign up for ACE’s free GFI study coach program, to help you keep on track with your studies!

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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