The Top 5 Mistakes You’re Making as a New Fitness Instructor

Becoming a fitness instructor looks easy. Those instructors at your club are always having fun. How hard could it be? As you’re studying for your certification, you realize how much more there is to it.

It’s at this point that some people will abandon the idea of becoming a certified fitness professional. But not you! As you continue, there’s now some fear and a bit of self-doubt. You write your exams, practice your skills….then what? It’s time to put yourself out there and get a job. What do you need to know?

Here are the top 5 mistakes new fitness instructors make. There are practical solutions for each that will help you feel more in control, banish that doubt, and have you thinking about things in a new way.

Mistake #1. You stop looking once you get a job

You’ve just spent a significant amount of time, effort, and money to get certified as a new fitness instructor. After weeks of looking around, applying, going to auditions and interviews, you land your first job as a fitness instructor. Great! Now, keep looking.

It’s not that you shouldn’t take that first job. If it seems to be a good fit, go for it. Refining your skills, building a client base, getting to know the ropes, and becoming an integral part of your new club is very important. It’s just not everything.

Once you settle into a role, you risk forgetting about the abundance of opportunities out there. If you stop looking at the vast fitness world around you, you could stop growing.

Keep your eye on what else is happening in your surrounding area. Check out other facilities to see unique programming. Expand your skills by attending different classes to pick up new moves and cues from other instructors. Become familiar with trends or opportunities you see that you could pursue in the future.

Always be aware, so you’re never left behind.

Mistake #2. You take things personally

Starting out as a new instructor is hard. Chances are you’re coming into an existing facility alongside seasoned instructors. You might even have to earn your place by subbing lots of different classes before you get your own.

Members are used to specific instructors doing things in certain ways. When they see a new name on the schedule, they’re usually more skeptical than excited about it. Both members AND existing instructors can be hard on new instructors. Subbing doesn’t always FEEL great. I have a lot more to say about that, but I’ll leave that for another post.

As a new instructor or sub, it’s difficult not to take the way you’re treated personally. You’re putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, and trying to please an entire room of people while you’re still learning.

It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. Some people just won’t like you. And that’s ok! You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the entire world, and there are still going to be people that don’t like peaches.

In time, you’ll create a room full of front-row raving fans. You’ll have to work hard to improve. And you will – just know it’ll take time. Be confident even when you make mistakes. If you don’t do the best job or others are trying to pull you down, focus on what you can control. That is the only thing that matters. You’re allowed to make mistakes and grow because you are still learning.

Keep going.

You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the entire world,

and there are still going to be people that don’t like peaches.

Mistake #3. You believe it will always be this hard

You’re learning so much; new moves, equipment, where everything is, how the sound system works, the unwritten rules that EVERY club has, likes and dislikes of the members, and all the personalities. Change is hard. And, you now work IN the ‘change industry’.

Challenging yourself each time you put on that microphone or creating a new class profile can be uncomfortable. This is how your members feel every time they try something new. Change is hard for everyone.

Doing something new has a learning curve. It’s like fitness; lifting weights or any type of conditioning exercise gets easier over time. Some things become more automatic. Some parts move easier or faster. Some of it is even mental. But, you have to put in the work now, for the benefits later.

Change becomes easier with consistency and practice. Take the time to look back and see how much you’ve accomplished in the last 6 months, or the last year. The same goes for what’s about to come. One day, you’ll be telling this to someone else. It’s hard in the beginning, but it gets easier with time and effort.

Going outside of your comfort zone is worth it.

Hi! Just wanted to say thank you for such a fantastic course this weekend! There was so much content and loved the way you broke some of the difficult content down into easy concepts to learn with the tricks and tips! I was engaged in the material the whole weekend.

It was an intimidating and humbling experience at times, but with such a great group of women, it really did feel like a safe environment to make mistakes and learn and not feel silly about how you did. It really was an encouraging environment.” 

DS – Fitness Instructor Specialist

Mistake #4. You’re focused on the quick game

It’s great to earn money while working out. You finally get to choose the music you love. You’ll have a room full of people that will do exactly what you tell them to do when you tell them to do it. Members will love you and want to be just like you. Teaching fitness classes is fun! Those are the primary reasons that most people initially enter the industry.

Over time, you’ll realize the role you play in people’s lives. The energy you spend on stage or the time it takes agonizing over the perfect playlist will shift. You’ll start thinking about how to make your time with the people in front of you more meaningful. These people will become a part of your life. And you absolutely will be a part of theirs.

You have an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives; that comes with responsibility. Continuing education, a growth mindset, and a positive attitude are crucial.

To have as much impact as possible, you’ll want to focus on the long game and do everything that you can, to be better than you were the day before.

Become a change leader.

Mistake #5. You’re trying to do it all on your own

We’re in this industry to help others, yet as fitness leaders, we’re reluctant to ask others for help. You can’t do this all on your own, and you shouldn’t want to either. Struggling through all of this alone is going to take longer, and stir up more emotion, than if you have others that can guide you.

Did you have a great experience with an instructor or studio? Did another fitpro encourage you to become an instructor? Seek them out. You want to have people like that on your side. Supporters, champions, believers – whatever you call them – will help you grow.

Find a mentor, connect with other instructors, or join a social group to allow you to learn directly from others. There are veteran instructors out there that want to see you be successful because they believe in the power of growth.

If you’ve received help from others, make sure you pay it forward. Help others that are entering the industry. No one has to do this alone.

Together, we make this industry stronger.

Karyn Silenzi is a Master Trainer for LIV North in Canada, Master Trainer for Life Fitness and ICG in North America, and a PRO TRAINER for canfitpro. See her testimonials here.

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