You ask a great question and I am starting to teach before I receiving my certification. I am certified as a personal trainer, so that helps. But I have also been a teacher and a coach.
If you want to start teaching before being certified, make sure you get any specialty format certifications (if there is one for step and the kind of aerobics you want to teach) since that will help with your skill set. Also, as you practice, you’ll build confidence. You can also practice teaching your friends and family before going in for an audition.
As you prepare for your exam and work on your routines, recall every way that you may have taught others how to do things and how you were taught to remember your moves and that will help. Most employers want to see that you have the energy, motivation, and ability to teach the class. Not all group instructor certifications give you that practical experience, so you have to work on those skills as often as you can.
It is tempting to start teaching before getting certified. Not every fitness facility requires certification. I’ve been teaching for 30 years, and currently work at a hospital based wellness facility that requires certification. If I cannot help a client with their fitness goals, I have fitness professionals with master’s degrees, physicians, physical therapists, and nutritionists that I can go to and know that I am providing the best for my clients. I want to be affiliated with a facility that provides quality. I would think twice about a facility that does not require certification for their instructors. Certification also gives me the confidence to know that I am doing my best for the people I serve.
Dear Rob, before teaching a Step Aerobics class, there are skills sets that you will need to have learned that aren’t taught in a basic group fitness instructor certification. In answer to your question, no, you should not begin teaching before you have at least AFAA Primary or ACE Group Exercise certification and also having current CPR certification. However, to teach a quality Step class, you also need to know what a 32-count phrase is and always break down your combos to start and end on the 32; how to teach tapless (so never stepping down to change to the other foot); how to layer choreography (where you teach combo A r/l, B r/l, C r/l, A/B/C r/l, then weave A-r, B-l, C-r, A-l, B-r, C-l); how to cue effectively, verbally and nonverbally (call the next move in last 2, 4, or 8 counts of the fourth 8-count in the 32, depending on if you are giving then a countdown- 4 or 8-cts- or going right in to it- 2 cts); also be sure that you know the titles of traditional steps (eg: going over the thin side of the bench is “over the top,” and across the long side of the bench is “across the top”). Those are some basic things instructors need to know before teaching Step. You may have already been trained in these things, which is awesome!!!! If not, believe me, those of us who teach choreographed Step really want to train others to teach that format correctly, so I’m sure there is an instructor in your area that would love to teach you these skills. When I say “correctly,” I mean learning to teach choreographed Step, not just athletic drills using the bench, “freestyle” Step, or pre-choreographed Step (Les Mills), but find an instructor who teaches tapless choreographed Step, weaves combos, and teaches on the 32- that’ll be a great mentor!! It is worth waiting to start teaching Step until you’ve mastered these skills, because it will make you a fabulous teacher of this format and should help you establish a quick following!
For learning how to layer choreography (build up from simple to complicated without losing folks), no one is better than Petra Kolber. Try to take Petra’s sessions at conventions, such as IDEA World, and in the meantime, buy her DVDs! www.petrakolber.com.
I know this is a lot of information, but I hope down the road when you start teaching, you find it invaluable!