Group Fitness Instrutor Certification - is it worth it?
Hi everyone, I'm considering becoming a Group Fitness Instructor and have been researching which governing body to take the test through (ACE, ACSM). I am interested in starting a career that's healthy, flexible and allows me to schedule around my family. In considering this, I have also researched salary/hourly rates. It looks like the average hourly rate is $25.00/hour. So, according to my calculations, if I was interested in making $30,000/year, I would have to teach 3.5 classes per day. Calculations:
$625/$25 per class = 25 classes per week
25 classes per week = 3.5 classes per day
So my questions are this:
1. Is a Group Instructor paid per class/session?
2. Assuming the class is one hour, are instructors only paid for the actual hour teaching or is there time in front or back of the actual class hour for things like set up, clean up etc? If so, how many hours should I be calclating to be paid on per class? 1.5? 2?
3. My initial thought is 3.5 classes per day seems like a lot - or is it?
4. What is the definition of "group" - would training a class of five people justify a group or am I wandering off into the personal training side?
At this point, I'm wondering if getting the certification is even worth it. Would appreciate any and all thoughts and bits of advice. Thanks much!
your math is impeccable but I wonder how flexible you are scheduling time around your family when you teach every day of the year at least 3 group fitness classes.
Let me answer your questions first:
1. The rate per group class varies by geography but $25.00 is a reasonable assumption.
2. At least around here, there is no consideration for compensation at the front or back end of the classes.
3. 3.5 classes per day, 25 classes a week is an awful lot unless you can teach such a variety of modalities that you can just stand there and talk people through.
4. If the facility where you teach is okay with 5 people or less in class, then that's what it is. Most facilities have a policy that will cancel a group class if it has consistently less than a specified number of participants.
Another consideration: no facility would let you teach that much per week. It is simply too much of a risk. If you get sick (and, trust me, with that many classes to teach, you will), then the entire group exercise schedule is jeopardized. So you would have to teach in at least 3 facilities which means travel back and forth.
Is it worth it? Not in the way you put the question. Frankly, I have yet to see an instructor who teaches that much or makes that much off group exercise alone.
I look at the classes I teach more as a hobby than as a money making enterprise. I enjoy it a lot but I keep my commitments to only 2 classes a week and substitute for others if I can. It has also given me great exposure to a lot of people which has benefitted my personal training business.
I wish you best of luck with whatever path you choose. Being a group exercise instructor has many rewards but they are not primarily pecuniary.
Karin answered the more direct questions re: pay and classes running. A few other items to consider beyond just the initial certification are continuing education, liability insurance, legal music selections, and your personal attire, etc., which if you are teaching 25 classes/week, you'd need to have quite a bit. You will also want to consider, as Karin mentioned above, that you'd have to teach at several facilities, as no facility (I'm a program director myself) will permit any one instructor to teach that much, so you'll need to consider gas/mileage/travel time, etc. On the other side of it, by being an instructor, you're generally going to save on a gym membership, as most facilities will provide that as a benefit of employment, and though when you teach you are there for your participants, you will in a sense be paid to workout (depending on the format, and how much demonstration you do vs. moving around the room).
But, to get to your point about the "worth" of being an instructor-you simply can't be a part of this profession if you're here just for the money-you won't last. You must be a part of it because you have a passion for it. You have to consider the value/reward of changing lives, as the impact that has on you is monumental. There are other ways to make money in the profession beyond teaching, like managing, or teaching beyond the fitness room, but that comes with experience and additional knowledge. As Karin mentioned, you may want to start with this as a "hobby" that you do in addition to work you may need to do for steady income until you can replace whatever you do now-but once you get the bug, everything will fall into place. When it's the right fit, you'll know!
I would definitely encourage a certification, especially if you don't have a fitness/health related degree.
You would probably benefit from doing some research on the places you want to teach. Most places are probably going to require a certification and may have preferences on where the cert comes from. Also, gyms are going to have different payment systems. In my part of the country (Wyoming), instructors make less than half that $25 per hour fee as a starting wage. Some gyms will pay per hour, per class or a portion of the fees collected from registration (80/20 split etc.- a contract employee vs. hourly) We do pay our instructors 1.5 hours for an hour class, assuming they are here to set up/clean up etc. and we also pay them for a reasonable amount of planning time/making playlists etc./trainings etc. and other places won't pay for prep work at all.
I wish you the best of luck- I love teaching, and among the many things my job as a fitness coordinator requires, teaching is definitely my favorite!
In any case, I still haven't gotten my group certification yet but I do plan on doing it to satisfy my own educational pursuits.
By the way, I would consider getting trained in a specific kind of class, like Zumba or Spin, so that you have something specific to offer that you like to do. Often group fitness directors are looking to fill holes in their schedule with classes that members want but they don't have yet (and step is still very popular).
So, figure out why you want this certification and go from there!
Being about the pay is only a small part of why we teach!
if you decide to go for it yes, get certified by ACE or ACSM!!
Factor those two things in when making your decision!
The answer to your question depends a lot on a couple of factors: they type of group class that's involved, and the degree to which the instructor is an 'active participant.' For example, I train teams and small groups of athletes. Depending on the actual session involved (e.g. is it a weight training session, or something like a plyometric or speed training session) my active involvement varies. If I were to try to actively participate in several plyometric training sessions in a week, I might find myself injured, whereas if I'm merely supervising and/or demonstrating a weight training session, I may be able to do several of those in a week.
So, take a look at what type of group sessions you're talking about and see where that answer leads you.
Good luck, and stay healthy!
AFAA is in most areas and good on the wallet. Go to AFAA.com to see where the Primary will be held near you. Sounds like you will be a great organized instructor. Good luck to you.