Pete McCall by Pete McCall

Even though it has not aired a new episode since May 1998 (yes, it has been that long), it seems as if there is a Seinfeld episode for almost every one of life’s situations. 

One of my personal favorites is the “Worlds Collide” episode, where George Costanza is trying to keep his relationship persona separate from the “Independent George” identity he adopts when hanging out with Jerry, Kramer and Elaine. When Susan, the woman he is dating, contacts Elaine for a casual social outing, George becomes upset because he doesn’t want his “Relationship George” world colliding with the sanctuary of “Independent George.”  

Like George, the commercial fitness industry has two distinctly different, yet parallel worlds that seldom come in contact with one another. Walk into almost any large commercial health club and you will see “Group Fitness World” and “Personal Training World.” Both can be extremely important for helping members receive the benefits of exercise, yet each go about it in completely different ways. As a result, many health and fitness professionals have separated themselves into one of these two worlds, with a number of personal trainers often looking down on group fitness and telling their clients NOT to take classes. (I recently overheard a trainer tell his client to not take an indoor cycling class because it could make her legs big, and my wife, a group fitness instructor, has had students say their trainers told them to stop taking classes if they want to see results.)  

Unlike George, who wants to keep his relationship and independent worlds separate, personal trainers should not only be comfortable with their clients existing in both worlds, they should also consider teaching group fitness classes. As a personal trainer who learned how to teach the year that Seinfeld went off the air, I can attest to the fact that learning how to teach group fitness opens up a variety of career-enhancing opportunities. 

If you are a personal trainer looking to enhance your career or establish a more consistent income stream, here are seven reasons you should consider teaching group fitness: 

1. Marketing opportunities.

Teaching group classes is a way to meet club members who are interested in getting results from their memberships. Members who take your classes are more likely to think of you if they decide to invest in personal training sessions. Personally, I consider teaching group fitness classes as a great opportunity to market my training skills to many potential clients at one time.

2. Your own space.

When teaching group classes, you have dedicated studio space and equipment. This means you’re not fighting for space at the club during busy “rush hours.” I would much rather be in a cycling studio teaching a full class at 6 p.m. on a Monday than trying to navigate a busy gym floor with a client in tow. It can be frustrating to work with a client during a busy period because you can’t always count on certain equipment being available when you want to use it. Being in a studio alleviates this frustration because you’re in charge of the room during the class.

3. Career growth.

If you have any interest in becoming a presenter or master trainer, teaching group fitness classes offers extremely valuable experience speaking in front of groups. It also helps you to plan what you’re going to say and learn to think fast on your feet. Plus, teaching group fitness teaches you how to cue exercise in a way that allows a number of people to follow your lead, which is essential when you’re leading an education class in front a large group.

4. Consistent revenue.

Teaching group fitness classes is a great way to maintain a consistent revenue stream during the slower times of year when clients are traveling or more focused on work. In addition, you can earn extra income by subbing classes and teaching when other instructors are not available. This is also a way to introduce yourself to club members you might not otherwise have a chance to meet.

5. Exposure to the next generation of clients.

Many group fitness participants are young professionals who may not have achieved the level of income necessary to be able to afford working with a personal trainer. Being an instructor provides you with the opportunity to establish relationships with young adults who are just starting their careers. Once they advance and can afford to work with a trainer, you will be their top-of-mind fitness professional.

6. The social nature of group exercise helps foster a community within the club.

Group fitness is, by nature, both a social event and a physical activity. A good instructor helps create a fun atmosphere, so sweat time also becomes social time and you’re seen as the one who makes that possible. In this era of social media, your students may also post after-workout selfies and tweet or Instagram about how fun (or hard) their workout was, all of which help to increase your popularity.

7. Extra touches for your existing clients.

Your group classes make it possible for your personal-training clients to join you for additional workouts. I teach cycling and sports-conditioning classes that I recommend to clients who want a fun way to do their cardio. Having clients come to my classes gives me the opportunity to provide added value as a personal trainer.

When I was a young meathead working on my bench press, I would have probably died from laughter if you had told me that I would end up as a group fitness instructor. Today, however, I love teaching group fitness and can honestly say that it has helped me grow my career in ways that I would never have imagined. If you find yourself stagnant in the world of one-on-one personal training, or if you feel like you’re burning out and want to find different career opportunities, consider beginning the journey to become a group instructor. Chances are, you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.

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