Whether you are new to the fitness industry or are a veteran instructor, opportunity is knocking, and you don’t necessarily have to reinvent yourself. Focus on your current talents, strengths and expertise. Leverage your existing qualifications to boost earning potential and, ultimately, advance your career.

1. Consider Less Traditional Facilities

Mainstream health clubs aren’t the only players in the game. Smaller markets yearn for programs and qualified instructors. Keep an open mind and think beyond standard fitness facilities. “Boutique facilities, studios, corporations, police and fire departments, active-older-adult communities, and educational settings are all viable options for fitness instructors,” says Jennifer Buckley, EdD, director and associate professor in the School of Health and Physical Education at Aurora University, in Aurora, Illinois.

If you go this route, don’t limit yourself to one department. There may be several job options within the same facility or organization.

2. Cross Over Into Small-Group Training

Working with smaller groups allows you to focus on individuals and develop more intimate connections. “I find that my smaller-group participants are not only interested in a great workout; they are genuinely interested in learning about Pilates,” says Marirose Meimers, a group exercise and STOTT PILATES®–trained instructor in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. “They’re willing to work at a slightly slower pace to train proper form, posture, movement patterns and appropriate progression.”

Depending on space and availability, you may be able to create your own small-group program within your facility. Most facilities like to fill “dead time” with options that offer value to members while potentially producing revenue.

3. Become a Writer or Presenter

Writing is a valuable skill to add to any resumé. It’s also a great marketing tool and an excellent way to supplement income while sharing your passion. People are genuinely interested in—if not obsessed with—fitness information. Much of the published work you see is written, not by fitness professionals, but by people who research a topic and know how to turn the information into a compelling story. You already possess the knowledge. So if you enjoy writing, consider pitching an idea to your facility newsletter, the local paper or even a fitness-related magazine.

If writing isn’t for you, but you’re not shy in front of a crowd, consider presenting. Corporations, small businesses, libraries and community groups bring in presenters to speak on a variety of subjects, including fitness. Contact a few organizations, introduce yourself and inquire about their needs. Have a few topics in mind and be ready to sell an idea or two.

4. Propose Class Spinoffs

Think of your classes as building blocks. One class builds on another, creating variety until you have several options. Start with a basic class you feel comfortable teaching; let’s say strength or sculpt, for example. Then get creative with new variations: cardio-sculpt mixer, strength Tabata intervals, plyo-circuit training, sculpt for active older adults, balance, sculpt and stretch, etc. Although your facility must show a need for the proposed class, managers are always looking for new ideas.

To read the full article from the September 2013 issues of the IDEA Fitness Journal click here.