One of my goals as an instructor, besides for me to have crazy amounts of fun, is to make sure fitness is fun and accessible to my students. Since it wasn’t so long ago that I was sitting on the proverbial fitness bleachers, I want to make sure people know that it really is possible to get fit. Anything is possible.
And, if you’ll allow me to pat my own back a bit, many of my students have gone on to earn their own certifications. At least 5 students are certified (some to teach multiple formats) and I have a new crop of Zumba, Turbo and PiYo instructors in the hopper waiting to pounce on the next training in their area. I think it’s because, watching me, they know literally any fool with a sense of humor and a willingness to look ridiculous can teach Zumba. Or Body Pump. Or whatever it is you’re thinking of teaching.
If you have that itch to teach, you owe it to yourself to develop that gift. Not, “do yourself a favor and develop your gift” but you owe it to yourself like you owe a debt to someone. The itch is there for a reason. It’s telling you that you have unexplored talents, unused strengths and unknown passions ahead of you. If you neglect those talents, they will wither on the vine. See also: Talents, Parable of.
Is it hard to get certified? Not if you have a pulse, room for $200-ish on your credit card and an 8 hour window of time to spend in a training class. People, follow my logic: Companies like Zumba make money off of you coming to their certification. They make money when you buy t-shirts and choreography and go to instructor conventions. Is it in their interest to make your certification (a) fun, informative, a bit challenging but ultimately inspiring or (b) a humiliating experience akin to trying out for your high school cheerleading squad?
If you said (a), great! You’re thinking like a business person! Fitness companies know that if they make the certification experience awful and impossible, no one will want to do it! If no one wants to take the certification, how are they going to find people who to perform the trainings for a commission?
Right about now you’re thinking, okay! I’ll do it when I have more stamina. When I’m thinner. A better dancer. Less shy speaking in front of a group. When I have more time. When my bad haircut grows out. When I get my braces off. Etc. etc. We somehow think that, until we are perfect or our lives are perfect, we shouldn’t bother with the certification. Not only will we never be perfect enough to escape criticsm from others, not only will our schedules always be too full to fit in another passion, but we miss the point of what teaching group fitness does for us and for our students.
First, you become more self-confident and more outgoing and a better dancer with more stamina by teaching. The best way to prepare to teach is… to teach. Teaching is not the same thing as performing. Practicing at home won’t work because you don’t have the pressure of thinking on your feet and motivating a group. That’s not to say you shouldn’t practice at home, but don’t wait until you’ve developed your A-game at home before you get your certification and get in front of a group. You get better by allowing yourself to be bad. By making mistakes. You grow as an individual by taking risks and learning what works and what doesn’t.
Second, our students don’t really want perfect people teaching them. Okay, fine, maybe if you’re teaching at the gym where the Laker Girls work out, maybe they expect perfection. Something tells me that people like that are already used to being the fittest in the room and won’t be surprised if their instructor doesn’t measure up. For everyone else — for the woman who has never stepped into a gym before in her life, let alone taken a group exercise class, what kind of instructor do you think she needs? She probably needs an instructor like you. Get to it.