This is a guest blog post by Josh Douglas-Walton at HFE.
Aerobics truly is the mainstream and it's estimated that over 4 million people a week take part in some form of group of exercise. This is down to a couple of things. Firstly, the availability. You'd be hard-pressed to find a gym, health club or leisure centre (whether a chain or boutique) which didn't at least have some form of aerobics on their timetable. In fact, there more and more cases of boutique places solely focusing on group exercise.
Secondly, we have a choice like never before. While you're still likely to find remixed and revamped versions of the classic 'legs, bums and tums' (still going strong after all those decades), the options are near-limitless.
Branded programmes like Les Mills, Zumba, Bokwa and Spinning will always have a great deal of market share but you shouldn't ever discount non-branded aerobics classes and those creative instructors creating original and exciting experiences from scratch. Everyone has to start from somewhere after all.
You're hopefully here because the title of this blog has piqued your interest and you're interested in launching your aerobics career. Maybe you've been attending classes either online or in-person and you just have that feeling that you could do this for yourself, that you could be the one to get people moving, shaking, burning calories and just generally having a great time. Well, if you fit that picture then this guide is here to help you turn that dream into a reality.
Back to school
It's not the most glamorous or exciting part of your journey to becoming a leading aerobics instructor by any means, but it is the most important. Without a doubt, the most popular aerobics qualification is Level 2 Exercise to Music. There are many ways you could study this but many prefer to combine studying from home in their time, perfect if you have other commitments, and then attending a few days of practical training, usually on the weekend.
This is a great starting off point as it's a qualification that will get you up to speed with choreographing a class, discovering concepts such as body conditioning and developing knowledge about the all-important anatomy and physiology (essentially how the body moves and functions). If you are so inclined to start studying with ourselves at HFE, as an exclusive we also include some choreography inspiration from international sensation Kardy Laguda. If you're ever experienced one of his classes or seen some of his stuff online you'll know first-hand that the man is a true gentleman and a born entertainer.
Taking things further
Once you're qualified, in theory, you're free to get out there and start teaching. If you were looking to really enhance your career prospects however then gaining additional qualifications might be on the cards. In order to teach some of the industry's most popular branded programmes, the likes of Les Mills, Clubbercise, pole fitness and Fight Klub etc, further specific training is required.
Unlike your entry-level Exercise to Music course, additional training for branded programmes usually only takes a weekend. In some cases, a single day and others it can be completed exclusively online. In terms of price, you're also typically paying a lot less than the price of a full course as the content is much more specialised.
Having these additional qualifications on your CV can really put you ahead. After all, this is a rapidly growing market and your local gym will only be looking for the very best aerobics instructors. You must prove to them, at least on paper, you have what it takes.
It's not just what you know...
As covered above, having the appropriate qualifications is a must, not just for proving you can walk the walk but also for gaining insurance. Another top tip is to make sure you're always developing your personal and professional qualities. After all, are your class participants going to return week after week, if, firstly they don't have an enjoyable and memorable time and secondly if they don't particularly rate you as an instructor... the answer is most likely a resounding 'no' (or 'probably not' if people are trying to nice).
So, what kinds of things to do need to consider, what do you need to develop and keep in mind at all times?
Preparation - They say that 'by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail'. You can't just rock up to your aerobics class a few minutes before, bang on some music and assume everything will be alright... chances are it won't. Having your class planned in advance and your choreography well drilled. You're always going to get those incredibly keen participants who arrive ridiculously early, but where possible, be the first one in the studio to greet people and the last one to leave.
Creativity - Regardless of whether you plan to create your own choreography or teach a branded class like Les Mills, having that creative spark in you is key. In the words of legendary instructor, Kardy Laguda also pushes instructors to have a signature style, saying: "It has to be in the DNA of the individual instructor... You can use your signature to motivate people..."
Communication skills - Perhaps something of a no-brainer but as an aerobics instructor stood at the front of the class, people are relying on you to lead them. Even if you have regulars, it's dangerous to assume they've committed to memory how your class flows. Hone your non-verbal and verbal skills, the loudest voice (just don't shout) and the most animated. This is your class so own the room.
Confidence and quick-thinking - This ties into the last point, you have to look like you belong when you're leading a class. If a participant looks like they're struggling, make sure you have ways for them to modify a movement and be confident in your delivery. Similarly, it's just the nature of things but things don't always go to plan. If you miss a beat or forget an instruction, have the confidence to keep going and things back on track. The most unwise and unsafe thing you could ever do in an aerobics class is to bring things to a grind halting (fire alarms and other force majeure situations aside - they will happen).
So, there you have it, from getting qualified to cultivating the right skills, we've hopefully shared some invaluable tips you can lean on in order to become a leading aerobics instructor.