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How to Get Certified as a Group Fitness Instructor

So you want to teach group fitness?! Want to motivate a class of people and help them reach their health and fitness goals. That’s great. The world needs more motivators!

Perhaps you were inspired by an instructor or you’ve seen someone else teach a class and thought to yourself, I could do that! Whatever the reason, let’s get you teaching.

Decide on the Format

Before we begin a search through certifications, let’s figure out what format you want to teach.

Start with desire and motivation.

What classes do you enjoy taking? What class do you take enough that you could fill in for the teacher if you had to, in an emergency? The clue to the format you should learn to teach lies in the answers to that question.

The options for group fitness certification are growing rapidly. Knowing what format you want to teach, helps narrow down options and organizations. There are so many formats to choose from; mat pilates, barre, yoga, step, strength training, water aerobics, kickboxing, cycling and HIIT to name a few.

Look Up the Organization

Now that we’ve figured out the format, let’s look up organizations. Enter a Google search for the format you want to teach and go for there if you like.

Another option is to ask an in instructor currently teaching the format you’re interested in. They will gladly tell you the organization that certified them.

If you have the name of the name of the class you want to teach, that offers a glimpse into the organization you need to get certified by. Some classes are branded and thus only offered by a certain organization.

For example, Les Mills is known for BodyPump, and a few other specialized formats. An instructor teaching BodyPump was certified by Les Mills. If they aren’t and teaching a “BodyPump” class, there could be trademark trouble. Same goes for Zumba(TM)

The reason organizations create branded classes is to ensure continuity. Organizations want to make sure that whether you take class at a club in Oregon, or a class in Georgia, the teachers offer class in the same way.

In other instances, let’s say you want to teach cycling. You could pursue whatever organization your heart desires. I recommend taking the certification in the format you like though. If you already take a Johnny G spin class, and switch to SCHWINN, things may look different to you. Again, ask the instructor.


The number of group fitness certifications, and organizations grow daily. Check any group fitness schedule and there are at least ten different classes on the schedule.

A few of the top organizations that certify group fitness instructors are as follows:

Les Mills*

AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America)

SCW Fitness Education **


ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)


*Les Mills certifications are only sponsored by a particular health club. What that means is, your employer has to send you to get Les Mills certification. You can’t just get it on your own like the other listed organizations.

**Sign up for SCW using my ambassador code and get $40 off any Mania certification event. Send me an email, and I’ll send my code.

Select a Certification

You know the format you want to teach. You picked out what organization to get certified through, now it’s time to select a certification. The major certifying bodies often travel from state to state certifying fitness professionals.

When looking up the website, look for your state and see when and where a certification is held. If there are none in your state, or city, pick the city closest to you.

Save money by signing up early. Early bird specials can save you $50 or more, so don’t delay.

Pick a date and pay the money for certification. Look at the fine print. Check for late cancellation or no refund policies. Things happen, stay prepared.

Be sure to order books or prepare in whatever way recommended before the certification date. Having CPR/AED certification is required by some organizations and all fitness clubs to teach. Get CPR/AED certified ahead of time to be prepared for certification and to teach when ready.

Get Certified

You’re ready now. Read all the emails they send before certification. Bring whatever clothes and shoes recommended. Come prepared to exercise, not just wait in the wings.

Bring a notebook, pen and textbooks to certification. It’s always a good idea to have snacks and water as well.

Ask questions. Get up and get moving. Make friends in class and talk to people. Be ready to demonstrate what you learn to the proctor of the exam. Now is not the time to be shy.

I mean, you’re about to teach fitness to a group of people! 🙂 Let your personality shine and have fun.

Complete the paper exam with confidence. If there’s a move to demonstrate, do that with confidence as well.

The Certificate

Some organizations print certificates while you wait. Others mail them out a few weeks after certification.

Laminate the certificate, or keep it someplace safe. Fitness clubs need to have proof of instructor certification, so be prepared to take it with you to an interview or scan and send.

Congratulations! You’re a certified group fitness instructor! Let’s go get you a job. 🙂

How to Get a Job as Group Fitness Instructor

1 Comment

  1. How to Get a Job as a Group Fitness Instructor - GYMNISTA

    March 7, 2020 at 2:42 am

    […] So by now, you’ve read my other post about getting certified to teach group fitness. If not, you can find it here. […]

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