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Aerobics Instructor

What They Do

Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors Career Video

Insider Info

Aerobics instructors lead fitness classes. These fitness leaders lead classes of 10 to 100 fitness enthusiasts through a series of exercises.

They teach the students how to perform the moves and ask the students to follow their example. They're responsible for planning safe and effective classes to meet the needs of their clients and answering fitness-related questions from their students.

Most fitness leaders only teach part time because aerobics are so strenuous. Those who work full time in the fitness industry may spend the rest of the day doing other duties.

If they work at a health club, they may have administrative duties or work in sales at the club shop. Or they may work at sports equipment companies, or help to design and manufacture athletic equipment.

Some of the best aerobics instructors travel around the country teaching other fitness leaders how to improve their skills.

The physical requirements for this field are high -- you have to be fit. The stereotype of the beautiful, super-slim aerobics instructor is a dated one, say instructors. Even seniors or those with disabilities can lead an aerobics class.

"The only requirement a leader needs is a level of fitness appropriate to the class they are teaching," says fitness program coordinator Sharon Meredith.

The new image of the aerobics instructor has created diverse aerobics programs. Fitness leaders now specialize in many different types of classes, including:

  • - Aqua-fitness
  • - Third age -- teaching seniors
  • - Personal training
  • - Adapted fitness -- for amputees or those with physical disabilities
  • - Step choreography
  • - High or low impact
  • - Funk
  • - Stretch
  • - Kickboxing
  • - Yoga
  • - Boot camp
  • - Pilates
  • - Salsa and Zumba

Aerobics instructors usually work in community centers, facilities like the YMCA and the YWCA, or private health clubs or gyms.

Most fitness instructors work part time while holding down full-time jobs in other areas. "I would guess that 80 percent of fitness leaders do this as a hobby, on the side of another regular job," says Meredith.

"It can be tempting to teach a large number of classes per week to earn more money. But you can't forget that when you teach a class, you're working out your body, and you don't want to overexert yourself," says Gary Johnson, an aerobics instructor in Portland, Oregon.

Instructors work when there are classes to teach. This may mean somewhat irregular hours, including early morning, evening and weekend work.

There is a chance of injury in this field.

The more you know about fitness, the less likely you'll hurt yourself. Well-trained fitness leaders know when enough is enough. "If you're an educated instructor, you can monitor yourself and monitor your participants, so that you don't overtrain," says Johnson.

At a Glance

Lead aerobics classes and answer questions about fitness

  • You can specialize in one of many areas
  • Most instructors work part time
  • Certification is common, but not always mandatory


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