How to start your career as a group fitness instructor
So you've just passed your level 2 fitness qualification and are ready to start your new journey as a fitness instructor! But, where do you begin? How do you go about securing permanent classes? How do you approach a gym or get some cover? What bits of kit do I need to teach? What insurances do you need?
These are the things I wanted to know when I was first starting my journey as a fit pro. I was fresh out of uni, hadn't been studying sport, was moving back to an area where I had no connections in the fitness industry and I was so overwhelmed! A lot of qualifications don't actually equip you with the real world skills you need to work in the industry. (If you'd waited a bit of time and taken a GFT qualification then this wouldn't be a problem... all of our courses will contain a business toolkit module for this exact purpose!)
This article will walk you through the basics of how to get your fitness career started. If you want the complete instructor start up guide then I made an e-book with all the information I wanted to know when I was first starting. It also contains tips on nutrition, vocal health and career sustainability. You can purchase that here.
What bits of equipment do I need to teach classes?
I've made a full list of what I keep in my gym bag as a fitness instructor - read it here.
The best thing to do is to network. Get to know other instructors in your area, tell them you are available for cover and give them your number. You'll be amazed how many opportunities come you way through this.
If there is a specific gym you want to teach at then try and reach out to their group exercise manager. They may have vacancies or an audition day you can attend. Don't go into the club and ask to meet with them - we're generally running around like headless chickens most of the day! Instead ring the club reception and ask for their email address. You can give them your free times, send proof of your qualifications and make a super professional first impression!
What insurance do I need?
You will need to purchase public liability insurance. Some reputable companies for this are Les Mills Insurance, Insure4Sport and FitPro. In this current climate, make sure there is a clause in your insurance policy that covers you regarding COVID. You may also want to look for a policy that allows you to teach online, as this is a growing trend.
How do I get paid for all of this work?
If you work for only one company then they may put you on their payroll. In this instance you won't have to do anything except maybe fill in a time-sheet to ensure your pay is correct. Tax and NI will be sorted out for you.
In most cases you will need to register as self-employed. You can do so via the gov.uk website. You can either set up as a sole trader or a limited company (my start-up guide goes into a lot more detail between the differences). You'll have to complete a tax return each year and will probably invoice the gyms each month for the work you have completed there.
I'd suggest setting up a new bank account to collect all your teaching money in. It makes your life 10 times easier when it comes to tax return time!
How do I do a tax return?!
If you've never been self-employed before then doing a tax return can seem really intimidating. If you have one salaried job and are earning a little bit of side income from teaching classes then in all honesty, you should be able to do it yourself. I actually wrote a Finance and Accounting guide for fit pros that would be really useful if you are in this position!
If you have other income, such as a rental property, dividends, benefits or your spouse is a high income earner then I'd recommend talking to an accountant. They will often save you more off your tax bill than they will cost you.
If you've got any more burning questions about starting your fitness career then definitely go and check out my Group Fitness Instructor's Start-Up Guide. Or, get in touch with me and join the GFT community on Facebook and Instagram @gftcourses. You can always send me a DM on these platforms and I'll be more than happy to help!