Marietta Mehanni

3 Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Teaching Group Fitness Classes

Group Fitness Workouts Instructors overcoming fear of teaching blog marietta mehanni

Written by Marietta

March 14, 2022

I have been in the industry for a long time, and I know how scary it is to start teaching group fitness classes!

The fear comes from so many places and takes many forms. Some people are afraid they will be uncomfortable, some are afraid that they don’t have the confidence needed, and some are afraid of what their friends would think. Whatever your fears and reasons for holding yourself back might be – I want you to know that you’re not alone. We all experience fear and apprehension at times when we consider an out of our comfort zone career move.

Now, my hope is that the ideas presented here today will help ease some of your concerns about teaching group exercise classes.

1. Fear that comes from not being qualified enough 

Are you considering a career in group fitness? Or are you a professional instructor who wants to continue growing in the industry? Either way, it’s important to understand how the fear of not being qualified enough can affect you if you don’t change your mindset. 

So often, our independent judgement as to what is good enough gets clouded by someone else’s judgements and opinions. That’s where the real problem lies. We begin to doubt our own sense of self-worth, especially when we are new to something. All of us have self-doubt. We think we’re not good enough, smart enough or strong enough. And when we think about our dream jobs and how far away, they seem, we can get overwhelmed by the fear of what we need to do to get there.

When I was first starting out, I had no idea what it meant to be qualified to teach group fitness. All I knew was that I had been exercising on my own for years and decided that I wanted to share my passion with others. So, I did what any other newbie would do: I searched the web for information on how I could become a group fitness instructor. Each time I came across a site that talked about qualifications, job descriptions, and licensures, I was left feeling more confused than before. It seemed like there was a different list of prerequisites for every certification out there. 

What I discovered was that I needed to speak to a group fitness instructor, someone who had been in the trenches before me and knew the landscape as well as what ‘you really needed to know’ to teach a class. Often courses are full of information that is ‘good to know’ but not crucial for teaching a class. Once I knew that actual necessary skills that I would need to learn, it became easier to overcome the challenge of feeling that I didn’t know enough.

2. Fear that comes from the responsibilities of teaching a class 

As a beginner, feeling scared and intimidated by the responsibilities of teaching can be overwhelming. After all, you’re talking about people’s bodies and health in a class environment. The fact is that every new instructor experiences a level of fear. That’s why experienced group fitness instructors have been so helpful in providing advice for new instructors.

Whether you’re starting out with indoor group exercise classes or outdoor bootcamp-style classes, My Group Move can help you prepare for your first class, including:

  • Knowing the fundamentals of group fitness.
  • Understanding the basics of how to teach an effective workout.
  • Having the confidence to follow through with what you’ve planned.
  • How to organise and plan your workouts so that don’t have to keep coming up with new class plans.

3. Fear of the unknown

Teaching a class for the first time is nerve-racking and stressful.

There are so many things you must remember, you probably can’t sleep the night before, and there’s bound to be someone in the crowd who will be unsure of your ability to deliver. The good news is that the more classes you teach, the easier it gets!

Here are some tips to make your first few classes a success: 

  1. Warm up the room with movements that will be like the workout that you are planning to do, but with a little less intensity. It’s important to get the heart rate up before starting any kind of group exercise class. If you are going to do a standard floor-based workout, then perform some of the exercises that you will be doing in the main body of the class so that the participants become familiar with the movement patterns. This also saves you having to come up with a separate set of exercises. 
  2. Cover your material thoroughly and make sure it’s appropriate for the level of your class participants. For example, if you’re teaching a high-level boot camp class, you’ll need to be much more specific about the exercises you’re demonstrating to ensure everyone understands what you’re doing. Make sure you know what form and function each exercise is supposed to be achieving so that everyone can get the most out of their workout.
  3. Plan your stretch and class ending as this is often the part of the class that most instructors neglect but the part that participants remember the most. Even if your class did not go exactly to plan, a well-planned stretch sequence can salvage your confidence with how you delivered the workout. 

I’m not sure if the fears described above is endured by all new group fitness instructors, but it is something that I have witnessed first hand.

As someone who has a love for group fitness and happens to be an My Group Move group instructor trainer, I often hear stories of self-doubt from people interested in pursuing this career path. The fear of teaching group fitness is real, but to minimise those fears and the mental anguish they cause, prospective group fitness instructors need to think about why they love working out and what inspires them to help others do the same.

If they can figure out their true motivation and passion—and share that with potential students—they will create the career of their dreams.

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