Hi Everyone, I’m a 41yr old female who has a love for fitness. I’ve spent the last 20yrs of my life as a Visual Designer (running my own business for 10yrs now). I’m burnt out on my career. I’ve been looking into fitness as a new career, but not sure where to start. I was a dancer for much of my life, so know that I want to teach barre, dance fitness, and pilates. However, I’d also love to do personal training and wellness coaching with women. So where do I start? A personal trainer certification or a group fitness instructor certification? Or, do I only need one of those certifications? Thanks for any insight!
Hello Calie Durant,
Personal trainers get burnt out, also. You could do everything you wish with the personal trainer cert. The group fitness cert would add to your personal trainer knowledge. I am personal trainer, health coach and group fitness instructor. I use all three at every session I teach; the overlap is very useful.
I personally became personal trainer first, then added health coach and group fitness later. The personal trainer course is more involved and the other two certs add more in the way of working with people with obesity and in a group setting. If I were to do this again, I would start with personal trainer, first.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
I’m biased towards as much education as possible, and I’ve had several primary group-ex certifications (3 levels through YMCA, AFAA, NDEITA) as well as personal training, but I’ll try to give you a practical answer.
Are you already trained in dance fitness, barre, and pilates? Some of those formats have their own certifications, and as long as you follow their requirements, you don’t have to have a primary group-ex certification in order to teach their format. BUT, some gyms will require a group-ex certification in order to work there. My suggestion would be to ask a couple of the places where you think you might want to work what their requirements are for employees.
As far as personal training, it’s a more comprehensive exam, but the skills are different. Personal trainer certifications do not cover how to lead a group, how to progress / regress according to the group’s needs, how to teach to music, find the beat, choreograph, etc.
Personally, I got all my group-ex certifications first, then got my personal training certification from ACE. After getting my ACE PT, I’ve allowed the group-ex certifications to drop and have never had a problem getting a job. That was 9 years ago, and I’ve taken on 4 additional jobs.
I would suggest, starting with your ACE GFI. This will give you a solid cert to start pursuing employment opportunities as a Group Fitness Trainer. It will also give you a solid foundation to build your fitness education and learning. You could then get your ACE CPT and ACE Health Coach. Keeping your certification with ACE will keep your education familiar as you progress through the different certs. They offer excellent trainer support and have a ton of learning resources.
It sounds like you’re leaning toward a particular modality: Pilates, Barre and the like. These are specialized group classes. I’d think about this: perhaps get certification from a well recognized organization that you can build on later. For instance: Pilates Basic, then barre, then reformer (which can be private)…and so on.
The educator side of me says: get a good PT certification because you CAN teach group with a PT certification, but a group instructor can NOT teach privately. Lots more involved: Anatomy, physiology, biology, etc.
Just depends on how serious you are about making this your career.