Select Page

By Angie Miller

I became an NASM Certified Personal Trainer in 2005, after more than a decade of experience teaching group fitness. My inspiration came from my participants, my trusted community of followers, who convinced me that it was time to take my career to the next level. It seemed that at least once a week a participant would approach me after class and ask if I was a personal trainer, wanting to know if I would work with them one-on-one. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t just turning away disappointed followers, I was turning away revenue. Though I wasn’t convinced that one-on-one training was for me, I loved the idea of gaining additional knowledge and expertise and ultimately building my professional brand. When I finally attended the NASM-CPT workshop, which at the time was a two-day training covering the science and application of the OPT Model, I was sold.

The OPT Model

When I look back, I’m glad my journey started with group fitness. I’m fully convinced that it was my group fitness background and experience that prepared me for the job of a personal trainer, and the skills and expertise of leading large groups was what set me apart from my peers. Group fitness leadership is a perfect place to hone skills that are transferable into personal training, not to mention it’s one of the best places to build clientele.


If group fitness brings to mind images of skin tight leotards, headbands, and high-top tennis shoes, it may be hard to consider that it could benefit your bottom line, let alone your expertise. But group fitness has evolved over the years, thanks to changing trends in the industry, better education and credentialing, and more diverse programming options. Traditional formats like step may still be around, but other formats, including barbell, kettlebell, strength training, and treadmill classes, have risen in popularity. If you’re a trainer who has no desire to teach to a beat or tackle choreography, there’s plenty of formats that will speak to your skills and spotlight your areas of expertise.


The beauty of group fitness is that it builds connection. Individuals of all ages and fitness levels come together for a common purpose. Friendships form, and instructors build trust, loyalty, and a sense of community among their participants. Those communities become an instructor’s tribe – a loyal group of fans and followers who want more of their time, expertise, and attention. If you’re a trainer looking to grow your clientele, there are few better ways to expand your reach than to teach a group fitness class. With 20, 40, or even 60 participants (potential clients), it’s not just free advertising, it’s a great return on your investment.


If building clientele isn’t enough to convince you the merits of teaching group fitness, check out these two skills that can help you grow and develop as a trainer:


Group fitness instructors are tasked to perform movements as they talk into a mic, while also cueing direction (what and where), education (why and how), and motivation. This requires timely, targeted communication (being clear and succinct), and getting a message across using fewer words with greater impact. Whether you’re coaching one-on-one or cueing large groups, communication is what matters most. Trainers, like instructors, need strong communication skills to ensure that clients hear the message, understand it, and can apply the information safely and effectively.


Group fitness instructors have to manage a lot of moving parts. Whether participants talk during class or engage in other disruptive behaviors, the mic goes out, the stereo breaks down, the fans stop working, there’s not enough equipment, or a multitude of other potential challenges arise, instructors have to address those situations in the moment and still keep command of their class. It takes a confident, capable leader to adapt on the spot and come up with positive solutions to move forward. Group fitness instruction is a great way to build strong leadership skills that are transferable to personal training.

Teaching group fitness classes is an effective way for personal trainers to expand their reach. When trainers lead large groups, they have the opportunity to develop stronger communication and leadership skills, build their clientele, and add money to their bottom line.