How to balance a 9-5 job and teaching group fitness
Although teaching group fitness classes is an amazing and rewarding career, it can often be tough to make a good living purely teaching classes, especially if you only teach high intensity programs. The beauty of a career in group fitness is that you can do as much or as little of it as you like, and this provides you with the freedom to pursue another career alongside teaching fitness classes. As I work in the City of London, a lot of my freelance team have a "normal" office job and teach group fitness for passion and a bit of extra money. Some are full time in fitness but do not teach full time, they range from personal trainers to physiotherapists to leisure centre managers.
If you are looking to take the first steps into a fitness career, you may not be ready or willing to give up the day job just yet. Alternatively, you might have another vocation you adore but want to teach group fitness part time. So, how can you build a balanced schedule and have a 9-5 job alongside teaching fitness classes? Here are some tips:
Stick to one or two programmes
My first tip is to keep things simple. If you have a full time job, teaching 6 different class disciplines may not work for you. That's 6 lots of choreography to remember and prep, 6 lots of music to find, 6 lots of scripting to do. Plus, you may only have the time to teach 6 classes per week! You'll end up with one in each discipline and by the time next week rolls around, you've forgotten your choreo and have to re-learn it. It can very quickly become too much and you won't deliver your best in each discipline. Find 1-2 class types you are passionate about and stick to those.
Schedule time to learn choreography
Learning and creating choreography is the most time consuming task for a group fitness instructor. A lot of time will already be taken up by your day job and other commitments with family and friends so block out a time each day or week to refresh and create your class playlists. Put it in your diary and make this time non negotiable. You don't want to rock up to your class feeling unprepared. You may also want to change your playlists every couple of weeks instead of every class. If you don't have as much time to learn new material, deliver the same thing a few times before changing it up. Most of the class won't remember what you did last week and they often need a few go's through a workout to get the best out of it anyway.
Don't accept classes that you can't commit to
This is a bugbear of mine as a group exercise manager. I find some instructors take on a permanent class but end up finding cover every other week because they had to stay late at work. This isn't fair to the class or the club. It will also end up causing you more stress and could lead to overwhelm or burnout. Only accept slots that you know you will be able to commit to week in, week out. Perhaps aim for early morning or weekend slots, times you are guaranteed not to be needed in the office.
Keep up the CPD
Now, even though you may be teaching as a passion, you still have to maintain the same professional standards as a full timer. As well keeping valid insurance, you must ensure you engage in continued professional development, just like you would do for your full time role. The class don't care whether you teach 1 class a week or 18, they want the best instructor in front of them. It is your duty to your class members to continue to up-skill and keep up to date with what's going on in the industry.
Make sure you are organised!
If you regularly teach before or after your day job then you have to be extra prepared with all of your teaching supplies. Ensure your devices are charged, you have your gym bag ready to go with your trainers, instructor essentials and gym kit. As you are packing for two jobs, it can be easy to forget something. Nobody wants to be that instructor who has to teach barefoot because all they have with them is heels! Set reminders in your phone or put post-it notes on the back of your front door to remind you to double check these things before you leave the house.