So you attended training and got your certificate to teach your favorite group fitness class format! Now what?
Landing a position at a gym or studio as a group fitness instructor with no experience can be challenging, especially if you’re in an area where the market is super competitive. You may be asking yourself how the heck you’re supposed to land a class when you can’t get any experience! Don’t worry. With effort, you WILL land a class eventually. But, I have some advice that might help you get there a little easier.
Here are my tips for landing your first gig as a group fitness instructor.
Take classes at your studio of choice.
I got my most recent barre class without even really trying. I was trying ClassPass and saw that an athletic club nearby accepted it. I had always wanted to try spin classes, so I showed up to my first spin class and began talking to the instructor afterward. I happened to mention that I was a barre instructor at another gym, so she told one of the owners that I should be considered to replace their barre instructor who was leaving to go back to school. I auditioned shortly after and got the class!
By taking classes at the studio where you want to teach, you’re able to develop relationships with the instructors/staff. If they like you and know that you want to teach, there’s a good chance one of them may recommend you when a slot on the schedule opens up.
If you’re brand new and don’t have teaching experience, my recommendation is to take classes in the format you want to teach. That way, the instructor can see your abilities in that format and determine whether they can see you teaching it.
Get your fitness resume together.
If you’re like me and work in corporate America, you shouldn’t be using the same resume for fitness positions and corporate positions. I have separate resumes for fitness and full-time work, and I highly recommend you do the same. Just because you don’t have experience teaching yet doesn’t mean you can’t create a fitness resume.
Start with your certification(s). If you got a Group Fitness certification, add it to your resume. If you got a CPR/AED certification, add that too. Be sure to include any specialty certificates to teach certain formats (i.e. barre, indoor cycling, CrossFit, yoga, etc.). If you don’t have teaching experience, you can include other athletic achievements/experience you have. If you recently competed in a sport or weightlifting activity, you can include that. Maybe you’ve run a marathon or were on a dance team in college.
Your fitness resume should represent you as a person who’s passionate about fitness. Make sure you include an excellent cover letter that explains your fitness-related achievements/activities with any application you submit. Your cover letter should also explain what qualities you possess that would make you a great instructor.
Feel free to include any other activities that aren’t directly related to fitness, but demonstrate that you have the skills needed to teach. For example, include any teaching or tutoring experience showing that you have the ability to convey information to others. I included my project management certification and Spanish-speaking experience, as they may come in handy in the fitness world.
Offer to start as a sub.
Some studios don’t even realize they need sub instructors until the offer is presented to them. If the studio doesn’t have space for you on the permanent schedule, offer to be a sub instructor. I’ve recommended sub instructors for permanent slots, and you’d be surprised how often subs get called on. If you kill it as a sub, you’re bound to get a permanent class eventually (somewhere). Many instructors teach at multiple studios. So, doing a great job subbing for them could open up several opportunities for you.
Offer your services without being asked.
Many studios hire instructors by word of mouth and don’t bother making an online job posting. Don’t assume that a studio won’t hire another instructor just because they haven’t posted about it. I got one of my classes by simply sending an email with my fitness resume to the gym and telling them I was interested in teaching barre at their facility. Their barre instructor happened to be moving out of state and I got an audition. For tips on how to kill your audition, click here.
Apply in person.
If cold-emailing your resume to studios isn’t getting you anywhere, print some copies and share them in person. Personality is one of the most important parts of being a fitness instructor. When you speak to someone in person, you have a chance to let your personality shine in a way it can’t over email. The group fitness manager may not be there, but making a good impression on the staff will definitely earn you some points.
Contact your master trainer.
If you attended a group fitness instructor training, chances are you have a master trainer who conducted the training day(s). Hopefully, they gave you their contact info. They may have some connections in your area. So, thank them for training you and ask if they know of anyone looking for an instructor. Since they trained you themselves, they should be confident that you at least have the basics down! By attending training, you’ve already started building your fitness network.
Don’t give up!
If you’re in a competitive area (like NYC), you may not land your dream job in fitness at first. But if you stay persistent, you’ll eventually get your first instructor gig. You may be stuck with the class time nobody else wants or you may have to start out as a sub, but you can use these opportunities to your advantage. Eventually you’ll be deciding when and where you want to teach.
These are my tips for landing your first gig as a group fitness instructor. I hope you found them helpful! As you start working and your network starts expanding, you’ll find that more opportunities come your way.
Do you have any other tips that have helped you? Let me know in the comments!
Dominique Cheylise, 27 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.