What's It Take to Become a Group Fitness Instructor?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ever wondered what it takes to become a great fitness instructor?  Unclear on what certifications and education are required to teach at the Y?  Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions our Group Fitness Directors receive regarding the process. 

What could you see yourself teaching? 

Your first step in becoming an instructor is to identify what your favorite classes are that you might be interested in teaching. Being a strong cyclist, enthusiastic Zumba participant or a natural at yoga may lead you towards a future passion.

Partner up! 

Once you’ve identified what you might like to lead, it’s always a good idea to pick a teacher you love and let him/her know that you’re interested in teaching. This mentoring relationship may lead to making plans to co-lead a session once you begin your classes/certifications.  Mindfully observing others whose teaching style you admire is a great way to adapt your own method once you begin teaching.

Get your certifications

 There are a number of trainings that are available to the public.  For yoga, this process is more laborious, and on average takes about nine months through a local studio.  For other classes, you’ll want to look into organizations like ACE or AFAA for their general group fitness certifications.  These can be done in person through a workshop or online. We recommend the live workshops for anyone newly entering the world of group fitness instruction. Classes like Zumba, Pilates and BodyPump are branded classes that require specific training through their organizations and cannot legally be taught until that license or certification is obtained.  We also recommend obtaining a CPR certification should you ever have an emergency situation during a class.


Once you’ve obtained certifications, have partner-taught, and feel comfortable leading a class, you may be ready to start teaching regularly.  Getting hired for a permanent spot may not be immediate, but a great way to get on a group fitness schedule regularly is to substitute when you can.  Not only is it helpful for you, but our members get to know you! Filling in provides you with more experience leading a class, gets you accustomed to the particular studio environment incorporating the mic and music, as well as reminds you of all of those group fitness nuances that your former instructors just seem to know. 

Continue Your Education

The last step in the process of becoming a group fitness instructor is continuing your education.  There are fitness conventions like DCAC, ZCon, and specifically branded continuing ed events that are often advertised to fitness professionals once your licenses and certifications are obtained.  These are typically a lot of work, but also very fun and a great opportunity to network with other fitness professionals. 

Feel free to reach out to your Y’s group fitness director if you’re interested in learning more about how to begin this process!