Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag

Group fitness instructors (GFIs) pour their hearts and souls into their classes, spend hours creating well-planned workouts, and are in a perpetual learning and educating phase. They have to motivate participants to try harder and achieve new fitness levels, and make them want to come back for more—all while keeping them safe and satisfied. Do you think you have what it takes?

If leading a spinning class or conducting drills at a boot camp have been on your brain, here are seven signs you should look for before you make this career move:

1. You’re front row at your gym’s new fusion fitness class.

Piloxing, Aqua Zumba, Barre Brawl—you’ve tried them all. Working out isn’t just a thing you do on the way home from the office to reach the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. No, you’re passionate about sweating and sweating in new and fun ways, at that. A GFI loves fitness (we mean shout-it-from-the-roof-top loves), stays on top of the newest exercise trends and isn’t afraid to set up in the front row and yell out a few “woo-hoos” during class.

2. You want to know why a squat works your butt, not just that is does.

It’s not enough for you to do a squat or a lunge, you want to understand the body mechanics. You’re curious about the muscles behind the move. You stay after class, ask your instructor questions and have an itch to get educated. Good. A group fitness instructor should have a NCCA-accredited certification and the drive to continue learning about his or her craft each and every year. 

3. You are a natural born cheerleader.

Captains of sports teams and enthusiastic extraverts, please apply. Pom poms or no pom poms, you know how to get a group going! People come to the gym to work hard and your job is to keep them motivated for 30 to 60 minutes. A GFI needs to bring a fresh dose of excitement to the front of the class, whether it’s 5 a.m., 9 p.m. or somewhere in between.

4. You are a multitasking maven.

Group fitness instructors have to cue music, count reps, fix form, shout out encouragement and manage a large group of people at various fitness levels all at the same time. Talk about a multitasking mission. If you’re a pro at doing a million things at once while keeping your cool, this could be the job for you. Group fitness instructors are willing to take the time to practice, because this skill doesn’t come naturally. It takes time and repetition to be able to face the crowd, call your left foot your right, give form tips and keep a smile while talking in a microphone.

5. Your friends always ask for your latest running playlist.

An iPod loaded with “Boot Camp,” “Long Run” and “Pump Up” playlists is definitely a good sign you’re meant to be a group fitness instructor. Because music can make or break a class, a GFI should know how to put together a killer soundtrack with the right warm-up, cool-down and tempo for each style of class. From gentle yoga to spin, hitting the play button should never be a worry for you. 

6. You are inspired by the 75-year-old participant holding planks in the front row.

You’re on the right track if you are motivated by the seniors headed into Zumba and appreciate that fitness comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. A GFI’s job is to ensure a safe and effective workout, regardless of the fitness levels in the room. That means being prepared to make changes quickly, integrate modifications for beginners, and pay attention to and acknowledge the successes of everyone in the room—not just the front-row groupies.

7. You are a people person and are approachable.

If you stay after class to ask your GFI questions, then be ready to stay after class to answer those questions when the tables are turned. Socializing and interacting with your participants should be natural and something you look forward to, not dread. You will hear stories about injuries, health issues and all sorts of personal matters.  A GFI listens, offers support and, more often than not, becomes emotionally invested. The participants who become like family are the motivation behind a GFI crawling out of bed at 4:30 AM to teach a class.

Did you just read this and say, “That’s me!” or “Ding, ding, ding!” What are you waiting for? Get your group fitness certification already!

Help people lead healthier, happier lives as an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor

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