Being a stand out fitness instructor goes beyond just teaching class. It means consistently delivering a class that not only packs a punch and provides a solid work out, but one that’s also fun to do and filled with encouragement. It means keeping things fresh, finding inspiration for new routines, and cheering class members on so that they stick with it and come back week after week.

Sometimes, the best motivation to do so comes from watching other top fitness instructors and learning from their experiences. We asked a few such instructors to share their best tips and advice for standing out in the competitive fitness world, and got their take on what other instructors can do to take things up a notch. Here are the rising stars in fitness to keep your eye on, and their best advice for crushing the game.

Astrid Swan, Master Trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp West Hollywood

What do your class attendees get from you that you feel they can’t get anywhere else?
My reputation is to be a hard instructor. I do not let you get away with “cheating,” but I also have a witty personality to deliver the extra push you need!  My clients know that I want the best from them and I care about each one.  I have nicknames, inside jokes, looks that speak a thousand words and we know how to laugh through the sweat and the burn!

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out?
Take as many classes as you can! The best teacher is always a student.

Laci Chisholm, Instructor and Founder of Fit4Dance

What do your class attendees get from you that they can’t get anywhere else?
Authentic love, and a sense of community and family. I am blessed that I’m able to provide a space where my students can feel comfortable and free from the stresses of the day and the judgements of the world.

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out?
Be authentic. Be confident. Bring your whole self to class. Know that someone needs exactly what you are offering. Don’t get stuck in your head. Be prepared and professional, but don’t feel the need to to be perfect. 

Michelle Gobea, Owner and Instructor at SOHO CYCLING

What’s your favorite part about teaching class?

My favorite part about teaching is being a bright spot in someone’s day. Clients coming in in between chemo treatments, those going through a divorce or break up, a stress reliever for someone being a caregiver for a sick parent or spouse. Currently I am seeing all of the above, and it means so much to be able to give someone an hour break from their situation. 

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out?

Taking time and putting effort into your playlists and choreography. It shows when you are not prepared, or appears that you don’t care if you don’t know your music.  

Krista Martins, Instructor and Founder of Wukkout!

What do your class attendees get from you that they can’t get anywhere else? 

I believe my attendees get a sense of community and camaraderie with me. It’s not “every man or woman for themselves” in my class. I encourage you to engage with one another and support one another through various stages of movement. You’ll be dancing with one another and laughing with one another. I want you to come to class to be the best YOU that you can be. I want to celebrate you, as you are, and help you get healthier in the process.

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out? 

Learn from other instructors — but don’t try to be them. Find your own way to reach your clients — it’s what makes you special. Also, take care of your body! Now that you’re teaching more, you will need to be even more diligent about your own self-care routine. Overuse injuries are so common in this industry, so it is essential to take the time needed for yourself to rest and recover.

Lisa Eskenazi, Instructor and Founder of Simply Fit

What do your class attendees get from you that they can’t get anywhere else? 

I treat all my classes as a form of artistic expression — so each client can expect to get lost in the music. Music is the ultimate driver. A great playlist allows us to transport and forget our worries and stressors. All class members will be physically challenged and will be given the opportunity to release their burdens — if even just for one hour!

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out? 

Be prepared to motivate, inspire and cultivate a community. Teaching group fitness is more than just exercising!

Coss Marte, Fitness Instructor and Founder of ConBody

When you say F'it I'm going on stage looking hood @conbody @dybrkr @saks

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What do your class attendees get from you that you feel they can’t get anywhere else?

We teach people how to achieve a full body workout with very little equipment and very little space. The only added tools are the pull up bar and the BodyworksBall, which is used for mobility and muscle recovery for the entire body. We are the first fitness program in NYC to offer full body mobility / muscle recovery classes using the BodyworksBall. ConBody is lean and mean, which means no bulky foam rollers or massage chairs.

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out?

Once you get your training, get out there and start training anybody, anywhere. Before we opened ConBody on the LES, I would approach people and train them in the park. Don’t be afraid to approach people, every day.

Tomás Rodgers, Fitness Instructor and Creator of Reps On Rhythm™

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness class?
My favorite part is the freedom to express myself through music, and helping to create a space that feels inclusive and not exclusive. Creating a safe place for people to let go of their insecurities, and forget about their current life-stresses is very important to me. Being able to see people come back week after week (even day after day) to a space where they know everyone will feel welcome, and leave feeling powerful, uplifted and accomplished – that is true “goals!”

What advice would you give to new instructors that are just starting out?
If it does not speak to you, do not teach it! Be patient in figuring out your own niche. If you can’t be enthusiastic about teaching a row or HIIT class, don’t teach it! And if your niche isn’t already out there, be unique and create it!