Becoming a Group Fitness Instructor


Teaching workout classes is a very fulfilling career! I finish every one of my classes with a feeling that I have done something good to help out others move and become a bit more active. If you are someone who enjoys working out, understands the benefits of exercise, and are passionate about sharing your knowledge about fitness with others, then becoming a Group Fitness Instructor might be a worth looking into!

As a Group Fitness Instructor (GFI), every class you teach is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of each one of your class participants. By designing classes that incorporate simple exercises that people can efficiently repeat outside of your class, you've given them a powerful tool to keep moving beyond that hour you shared with them! If you are a very active person and have always enjoyed exercising, you might have a pretty good technique executing exercises and might have an idea of what exercises are good to target which muscles. In addition, you are mindful of your body and of what your limits are: what you can and cannot do. However, not everyone knows this information: This is not general knowledge, unfortunately. An active person might be so used to exercising their muscles and even curious enough to go researching new workouts, that it might be hard to put themselves in the shoes of someone who has never, or hardly ever, worked out and knows little to nothing about workouts.

If you are that exercise geek, that walking workout encyclopedia, you already have half the education needed to become a Group Fitness Instructor! Again, teaching is a vocation, and you should not get into this career if you are not patient and don't really enjoy working with different people with different personalities. GFIs are customer service representatives, educators, motivators, coaches, moral supporters, even friends sometimes. GFIs should also be sensitive, kind, nonjudgmental, and understanding. As a GFI, you come across people who are working out as a way to produce endorphins, that feel good hormone that makes us happy! This means that not everyone walks into a fitness class feeling their best. A GFI should be warm, welcoming, and cheerful, so people are encouraged to come back to the classroom, gym, multi-purpose room, park, or whatever it might be that classes are being held. Remember: A GFIs goal is: To educate people about the benefits that exercise have to improve quality of life, and to motivate people to continue adding as many minutes of exercise as it is possible to every day so as to enjoy more exercise-related benefits day by day. As a GFI, you don't only want people to keep coming back to your class so you get your feeling importance. After all of the work it takes to plan out a class, rehearse it, and find new and innovate moves for classes, it is understandable that you might want to feel appreciated. Who wouldn't?! You want to hear that are a great teacher, and know that people like you. However, what you should really focus on is: people are coming back to your class and improving their own well-being, one minute at a time, and that should give you the best feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you're genuinely helping someone to become healthier and to live better!

Still interested? Got what's needed? Got the heart, vocation, patience,  eagerness to help out? Great! Let's get started! If you have everything I mentioned above, then what you need is some formal education! I am not talking about the articles you read daily on the new trends at the gym. I am talking about a well respected certification so gyms, companies, and even your class participants take you seriously. There are lots of certifications out there that you can take, some are better than others, some are more pricey that others. I did my certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). ACE is currently having a sale: There are other general certifications, like AFAA as well, or you can take a specific certification, for a certain format, like Zumba (, turbo kick ( among others. My first certification was through Zumba. I started out as a Zumba instructor. To me, it feels like I started a bit backwards: Zumba is what is called and out of the box program. The company gives you the music and choreography, and if you wish, all you have to do is learn that and teach it in your classes. It works great if you don't have much time to plan your classes! However, what you don't learn with most of these out of the box programs is the science behind the exercise itself: Why it works, what works, what doesn't, how it works, etc. A general group fitness instructor certification, like ACE's & AFAA's, teach you kinesiology, bone & muscle structure, and how exercise benefits your body. You also learn how to effectively put together a class, and how to deal with class participants. The Zumba certification goes very lightly over these very important subjects, and that's why I say I feel like I started backwards. If you start with one of those out of the box certifications and you like teaching, you might end up realizing after a while that you actually need and want a stronger certification. That's what  happened to me anyway!

Once you do your certification, I recommend you go through a mentorship program so you can gain experience. I myself, went through 2 of them, and it was what gave the courage to actually start teaching, once I had passed my certification exam. The first one was through University of California San Diego's extension program: It is a bit pricey, specially if you're not a student there, and demanding, if you're also working full time like I was, but manageable and doable! The first quarter they send you study guides on powerpoint presentations and quizzes that help you study for the Certification final exam. Then on the second trimester you start taking fitness classes at their amazing gym. There's a number of classes you have to complete. After you've taking a variety of classes, you choose a format you'd like to teach yourself. Then you're paired with one of their experienced instructors and you get to take their class and observe them. After a few weeks, your mentor offers you the chance to teach small segments in their class, in a safe environment. At the end of every class, your mentor offers constructive and much needed feedback, as well as positive reinforcement! I loved this program and strongly believe that their study guides helped me tremendously to pass the very challenging exam!

The second mentorship program I completed was through Fit-X Fitness San Diego. Fit-X Fitness is celebrating their 20th year moving people this year, and I am one of their very happy instructors! My mentor at Fit-X was Gaby. I took Gaby's Boot Camp class every Thursday evening for weeks, until I gathered the courage to finally teach the warm up at her class. She offered feedback and guidelines to follow, and a few weeks after, I tried again. I believe it took me a bit over a couple of months to successfully complete the mentorship program, teaching small sections at Gaby's class and applying her advise every time. Fit-X Fitness is always hiring, and they are still doing their amazing mentorship program. In fact, I am humbled and blessed to say that now I am mentoring a future GFI! Lizette (who already obtained her ACE Certification!) takes now takes my Mondayevening Boot Camp class and observes my every move. I have to say, mentoring has only made me want to become a better instructor, learn more, and plan out my classes even better because I know there's always someone watching me to learn! Fit-X is all over San Diego and Orange County.  Reach out to them when you're ready to teach. Make sure you mention Denisse Ypina referred you!

Aside from being a very rewarding and fulfilling career, teaching workout classes offers a flexible schedule, room for growth, and work availability! More and more people are staying active these days, realizing exercise adds life to their years! It is a GFI's job to guide people and offer them safe and fun workout classes that are engaging so that they can stick to their goal of moving!I

If you have any questions about becoming a Group Fitness Instructor, please feel free to reach out or leave a comment down below! Keep moving!

Sincerely, Denisse

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