As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really not difficult to get certified to teach Zumba.  I recommend taking advantage of the Zumba Jump Start program because you can get two certs (Zumba Basics 1 and Zumba Gold) done at once and for less money than doing them individually.  Saving time and money = smart.

So then what? You’ve got your Zumba cert(s) burning a hole in your hot little hand… what goes next?  First, get your CPR cert.  No exceptions.  You need it.  I’m not being your lawyer here, but many would argue it’s negligent to teach group exercise and not have it.  If someone has a medical emergency in your class and you haven’t had proper training, your booty could be in hot water.  So get your CPR cert, keep your students and your booty safe.  No one dies in my class, that’s my #1 rule.

Many gyms require you to have what’s called a primary group exercise certification.  Primary group exercise certifications come from companies like AFAA (the most popular among group ex instructors because all gyms accept it), ACE and the YMCA.  These cost around $300 (including your books) and take another day of your life.  Secondary certifications are licenses to teach a particular format like Zumba, Turbo Kick, Body Pump, Pilates etc. etc.  Primary certifications are harder to pass. While secondary cert companies want you to have fun, primary cert companies want to grill you.  Many people take the AFAA cert first and email me in terror because they can’t face their Turbo Kick certification after the trauma of AFAA.  The tone of the days are completely different, don’t worry!

As I’ve also mentioned before, a few hundred dollars here and there really starts to add up, especially if you don’t have a paying gig lined up. For my married ladies: Your husbands are going to think you have lost your damn mind when you start teaching classes anyway.  But start paying money out the wazoo for certs when you don’t have a job yet and your husband will probably have you committed. If you get Zumba certified and AFAA certified, buy some cute clothes… you could be pushing $700.  If you have $700 to throw around, well don’t be a stranger.  Throw some my way.

When I began teaching, I started in a small space that did not require an AFAA cert.  After about 4 months, I was ready to move to a slightly larger space (no AFAA cert required).  By then, I was ready to start subbing with the big boys.  I had four secondary certs under my belt, my CPR card and was decent enough I got on the sub list without my AFAA cert.  Then I landed a permanent class.

Once you’ve got a permanent class, that’s pretty much your ticket into teaching other places.  If you’ve been successful at one gym and your audition goes well at other gyms, most people just sort of assume you’re competent.  If you’re trying to get in with a super fancy gym (the ones with valet service and dry cleaners), you may have a different experience.  Those gyms probably wouldn’t even let me be a member, let alone an instructor, so I have no knowledge of their practices.

If you’ve never taught group exercise a day in your life, you really don’t need to get the AFAA cert right away.  You certainly don’t need to get it before you’ve taken your Zumba cert!  Start with the easier, more pleasant training.  Then make your way over to the grueling certification.  Many people actually fail the AFAA cert because they don’t have a lot of experience in teaching yet.

Next, get yourself a jobby job!  Find a studio or some sort of space that doesn’t require a primary certification.  Get a little income flowing before you drop another $300 on training.  It’s just smart — and in this economy, we have to be smart (unless you’re the person who is throwing money around.  Remember, my class schedule is on the right of your screen!)  You may find you’re perfectly happy teaching in a space where a primary certification isn’t required.  I was able to get by for over a year without one before I started setting goals that demanded an AFAA cert.

Instructors, how did you do it?  Do you have a primary cert? When did you get it?  Anyone ever have someone keel over in class?