Starting out in the fitness industry? How to make the jump from fitness enthusiast to professional instructor
Starting out in the fitness industry? How to make the jump from fitness enthusiast to professional instructor.
There are very few, if any, professionals in the fitness, exercise and wellness sector who didn’t start their journey as a participant.
The transition from the back of the class to the front of the class is a well established journey. But that’s not to say it is always a straightforward leap.
There is no replicating the energy, enthusiasm and dedication that comes from turning a passion into a side-hustle or even a profession. But you’ve also got to make sure you make that step in a way that is optimum for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach but here are a few things to help you make the exciting step in a way that is right for you.
1. Be clear on what you’re doing and why – keep this under review
There is no right reason for wanting to become an instructor and there is no wrong reason. If you’re in it to build your own confidence and skill set that’s great, but so is doing it for the money. Doing because you get a buzz from performing is just as valid as doing it because you want to help make people’s lives better.
But what is important is being honest with yourself about why you’re doing it. Because that will inform so many decisions about what your business will look like and how it operates. How many classes you do, where you do it, your instructor style and the amount of time you can dedicate to the business will all depend on why you’re becoming an instructor.
2. Don’t get daunted – break down what you need to do one step at a time
Your business on day 1 doesn’t need to look exactly like what you dream about. It’s great to have an idea of where you want to go but don’t feel like you have to get there immediately. You’re allowed to take baby steps: do the instructor training, find a suitable venue, get your equipment, schedule your first class, market your classes, deliver your first class.
It might look at a long list and overwhelming at first, so just break these steps down into baby steps. Before you know it you will have ticked them off. A big task is just a series of smaller tasks. So don’t look at starting up as an instructor as 1 big job, break it down into lots of manageable little jobs.
3. Confidence – believe in yourself and your service
The psychology of transitioning from participant to instructor can cause people problems. You know the discipline, the routines, you’ve done your training, you know exactly how to deliver a session. But the majority of new instructors have a nagging doubt about their own abilities and feel like an imposter at the front of the class.
This is where forcing yourself to be brave and confident comes in. Are you well trained? Yes. Are you well prepared? Yes. Do you want to be here and do this? Yes.
If you know your stuff, get organised, and love the content, you will deliver a great session.
4. Be disciplined – you’re running a business now
Whether this is a full-time business or a part-time side-hustle, you’ve got to add a bit of discipline to the way you operate. If you do everything ad hoc, the more reactive you are the more work you’ll end up doing. The fewer questions you have to answer, calls you need to return, last minute changes you have to react to, the more time you have to build the business or get on with other parts of your life.
When many participants are already friends or people you may have participated with there’s a particular temptation to provide everyone with an overly personal service that might be ok for a while but which will be a drag. I’ll pay you next time, what time is the class this evening, sorry I forgot to come, how much does it cost again, can you lend me a…
From the get go make sure you are providing clients with all the info they need so they don’t need to ask you, set your rules for bookings, payments and cancellations and ask people to stick to them.
5. Be patient – you might be lucky and take off straight away but most don’t
It is easy to lose heart when things aren’t turning out exactly how you want them. But most businesses are not a roaring success on day one and most take time to build.
When something isn’t working out it becomes easy to blame it on things outside of your control and pack it in. There isn’t enough demand in my patch. It’s the wrong venue. It’s the wrong time for a class.
But in reality if you get off to a slow start it’s because not enough people know you’re there. Your word of mouth marketing hasn’t taken off, you’ve not built up a social media following yet, you don’t have happy customers recommending you to a friend.
So expect a slow start and work hard on building. Your first 50 clients will be the hardest to find. From then on, things will get easier.
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