The fitness industry can be one of the most competitive job markets out there. Even after you’ve gone through proper training and earned the necessary certifications, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a job immediately. Not to mention, there’s that whole conundrum of how to get experience under your belt when you haven’t worked as an instructor before, since most fitness jobs require at least a few years of experience — if not more.
What can you do to stand out among the rest of your peers and land the fitness job of your dreams? We asked a few fitness instructors to share their best tips for finding a job in the fitness industry. Read on for their advice on what to do to set yourself apart, and land the job you’re vying for.
#1: Get your foot in the door however you can
You need experience to land a job — but you can’t land a job to get that experience. When Julia Sullivan, instructor at Crank Cycle found herself in this position, she set her sights on one studio and networked her way in. “In the fitness industry, you seldom see a job posting that doesn’t require at least one year of teaching experience,” says Sullivan. “I figured my best bet to land a job was to focus my attention on a single boutique that I knew offered a train-to-teach program––and absolutely dedicate myself.”
Sullivan spent time chatting up the staff, finding out who the head instructor was and taking her class regularly, continually voicing her interest in becoming an instructor. “Eventually, the lead instructor revealed that they’d be holding auditions, and she invited me to come.”
#2: Become an active member
Along the same lines, Rick Siegrist, coach at QiFlow, mentions that “The easiest way to get into a studio is to get into the studio.” While signing up for memberships at multiple studios while you’re in need of a job is likely not in the cards financially, Siegrist suggests taking advantage of promo offers that allow you to get more face time for your buck. “I found my first role at Monkey Bar by signing up for their intro offer,” he explains. “This is a great way to get a feel for the community and to see if the studio is going to be right for your style of training. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the owners. I let them know that I wanted to become a trainer and it just so happened that they needed help. I made my intentions clear and they had a need. I auditioned the next week and was able to take over three classes a week.”
The easiest way to get into a studio is to get into the studio.
#3: Focus on finding the right fit
When you’re trying to break into the fitness industry, it can be tempting to just take the first job offered to you. But Kelly Berger, cycle instructor at REV Cycle Studio says accepting a role at a studio you don’t feel comfortable with can end up hurting you in the long run. “The number one thing I recommend is to make sure you are comfortable wherever you are looking to find a job,” she says. “You want to feel comfortable with the people you will work with and the environment that you will be teaching in. Interviews are just as much for you as they are for the person wanting to hire you.”
As far as landing a role, Berger says the more market research you can do the more of an edge you’ll have. “When searching for a job, it’s important to season yourself with other classes in your area,” she says. “Learn from other instructors. Don’t limit yourself to one kind of workout, try different workouts and see how your skills can be transferred to different types of classes.” Maintaining the latest certifications will also help your cause. “It’s always important to continue your education,” she says. “Seek out certification classes and stay up-to-date with your moves.”
#4: Nail your audition
You’ve networked your way into a studio, and they’ve invited you in for an audition as a fitness instructor. In addition to showing up on time and being prepared with a killer routine, Robin Gillespie, instructor at Allongeé and Riva Health and Fitness says she judges instructors who are looking to audition by the playlist they choose, since it can make or break a workout. “Come to the audition with a charged device and a variety of songs,” she recommends. “Most auditions are in a group (of varying formats), so be prepared to stay and participate for the entire session.”
#5: Make yourself a part of the community
When studio owners hire a new instructor, they want someone to be as invested in the success of their business as they are. Paul Michael Rahn, founder and CEO of SWEAT says the best thing you can do during the audition process and even as a new instructor is to make your commitment known. “Not only do you have to be a good trainer, but engage with the community that surrounds your studio,” Rahn says. “Get to know clients by name, know what they do, take pictures and add them on social media. As an owner, I want my studio to be your home and our community to be your family.”