Do you love working out? Are you interested in helping others? Why not make a career out of it by becoming a certified group fitness instructor? It’s easier than you’d think! Maybe you’re looking to teach group fitness part-time to earn extra money (vacation fund anyone?) Or maybe you’re looking to start your very own fitness business! Or maybe you just want to pursue an exciting new career in the health industry. No matter what your goals are, here are the 3 easy steps you need to make your dreams come true!
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After my struggle with chronic pain and illness, I was looking for an exciting new career that would align with my goal of living my healthiest life. I wanted a career that would be flexible, fulfilling, exciting, and, most importantly, give me the opportunity to help others.
Flaxseeds & Fairytales is all about helping you achieve your health and fitness dreams! If being a fitness leader and enhancing your fitness goals sounds like happily ever after to you then keep reading. This post is your fairy godmother offering all the tools you need to be successful in the fitness industry!
Step 1: Sign up for an ACE Study Program
If you’re interested in building a successful career as a Group Fitness Instructor, the first thing you need to do is get certified. While certification is not necessary in the fitness industry, it certainly helps because it shows employers and clients that you have the knowledge and skills to perform the job. Many gyms and health clubs require certification for all their instructors.
It’s important to make sure that your certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCAA) which is considered the gold standard in the health and fitness industry. I always recommend the American Council on Exercise (ACE) for those seeking certifications for group fitness or personal training. ACE is a non-profit organization accredited by the NCAA and they’ve been around a long time. I am personally proud to be an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. They have tons of resources, tools, and free goodies to help you make the best of your new career (more on that in Step 3!) ACE is super recognizable and well-respected in the fitness industry and, in my experience, employers are always excited to hear that my certification is from ACE.
You can sign up for an ACE Group Fitness Instructor Study Program right here and receive $150 off for a limited time! ACE also offers a payment plan to make the program as affordable as possible. If you have no experience in the fitness field, I recommend the GFI Pro Advantage Program (click the orange link and get $100 off with the code GOACEGFI) which comes with unlimited practice tests, personalized study help, and both the e-book and paper copy of the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook (having two copies of the book was super useful for studying on the go). All of the Group Fitness Instructor packages include the certification exam, which is awesome because the exam alone is $250.
Overall, ACE has all the best resources, pricing, and reputation to guarantee a successful career as a Group Fitness Instructor. However, there are other certifying organizations accredited by the NCAA, including the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and NETA. I don’t know much about either of those organizations, but feel free to browse and compare before choosing!
Get $150 off an ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification program here. If you’re interested in becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, you can get $300 off an ACE Personal Trainer Certification program here. These are both limited time offers so act fast!
Step 2: Pass your ACE Certification Exam
After you’ve signed up for your ACE Group Fitness Instructor Study Program, it’s time to start studying for your exam! Your exam voucher expires 6 months after the date of purchase, which is a generous amount of time to learn all the materials. I took the exam about 4 months after signing up.
The ACE Group Fitness Instructor Study Program is a self-paced, 12-chapter course. The way the program is set up is that you read through a chapter, watch the corresponding videos, complete any relevant exercises, and then take a short quiz. If you pass the quiz, you’re free to move onto the next chapter!
The program covers everything from how to design a class to understanding human movement to legal guidelines. I actually really enjoyed the program and looked forward to learning new material (that’s how you know, you’re in the right field!) The chapters were interesting to read with tons of helpful pictures and diagrams. Plus, the videos/webinars were fun and informative. They also have ACE study coaches standing by to help you, as well as a Facebook group, blog posts, and other resources. The best thing about the program is that it gets you EXCITED to pursue a career in group fitness! The knowledge you pick up is super practical and I actually use a lot of what I learned to write my Fitness posts for F&F!
You also need to make sure you get your CPR/AED certification (with a live skills check—so not an online class) or you won’t be able to sing up for the exam. I got mine through the American Red Cross, along with First Aid (not required but recommended for group fitness instructors). It took about 6 hours and I got both adult and pediatric.
I studied at a pace of about 1-2 chapters per week with about 3 weeks left at the end to review and take practice tests. I studied for about 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week. And guess what! I passed the exam on my first try! YAY! The exam is computerized and you take it at an exam center that’s convenient for you. Don’t be feel bad if you don’t pass on your first try—a lot of people don’t! You can always purchase a re-take voucher and try again.
Step 3: Pursue your dreams!
Congratulations on passing the exam! You’ve worked hard and now you have a brand-new, shiny certification to show for it. I’m so proud of you!
Now comes the fun part where you get to take advantage of all the awesome resources that ACE has available for their certified group fitness instructors. What I love about ACE is that their support of your group fitness career doesn’t end once you pass the exam—they’re there for you every step of the way. They want you to succeed! The professional resources ACE offers is a huge part of the reason why I chose to get my certification with them.
Here are some of the awesome perks and professional resources you get when you become ACE Certified:
- ACE has an interview guarantee with several of the top gyms and health clubs around the country. Identifying yourself as an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor at 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Town Sports International, Koko FitClub, Crunch, Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club and Active Wellness will get you in the door for an interview for any qualifying position at those facilities. This is a huge advantage that you don’t want to miss out on!
- ACE keeps a listing of your professional group fitness instructor profile on ACE Pro, so employers and clients can find you. This gives you additional credibility in the industry. Plus, you get a cool badge, you can put on your website. 🙂 See mine at the bottom of my About Me page here.
- Once you become ACE certified, you will also be listed on the U.S. Registry of Exercise Professionals (USreps). Again, this adds to your credibility as fitness professional.
- ACE has a fantastic online magazine called Certified that will keep you up-to-date on all you need to know in the fitness industry. You can sign up to have it delivered straight to your inbox AND you can take magazine quizzes to earn Continuing Education Credits (more of that later).
- ACE has tons of other classes, workshops, and certifications available, so you can continue to grow your career with them.
- ACE offers professional benefits and discounts for various services and products. Who doesn’t love discounts??
- ACE offers free group fitness resources, such as class planning worksheets and exercise evaluation forms.
I’m sure I’m missing some, but those are some of the main perks you get as an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. Everything you need to start an amazing career in the health and fitness industry!
Just a few additional things to keep in mind:
- You want to make sure you maintain your certification by completing 2.0 Continuing Education Credits (CECs) every 2 years. Completing your CECs is a super important part of being a group fitness instructor. You want to grow in your career by learning new modalities and skills. That’s what I personally find so exciting about a career in group fitness is that the field is constantly evolving and there’s always news things to learn! With all the different populations, equipment, and modalities that are out there, you’ll never get bored as a group fitness instructor as long as you commit yourself to learning!
- Make sure you complete CPR and AED training every two years. This is crucial for both the safety of your participants and for maintain your hard-earned certification.
- ACE recommends that all group fitness instructors maintain professional liability insurance. Do not skip out on this! This is an extremely important form of protection and you never know when it may come in handy!
Thanks for reading! I’m so happy that you’re considering a career in group fitness. You’ll love it—I promise! If you have any questions, I’m happy to help! Feel free to comment below. I also recommend that you visit the ACE website and chat with an ACE professional there. They can give you the best, most up-to-date information!
Any other certified group fitness instructors out there? Do you have any tips for those considering a career in group fitness? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below and share your wisdom. 🙂