How to Teach an Aerobics Class

How to Teach an Aerobics Class
How to Teach an Aerobics Class (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/GettyImages)

To teach an aerobics class, you have to have a (near) perfect balance of skill, energy and enthusiasm to keep your students going for the length of the class -- and to keep them coming back. The proper certification can help you learn the foundational skills, but after that it's up to you to choose the right music, give the right cues and inspire and motivate your students.

Get Certified

Most employers require group fitness instructors to be certified. Even if you work independently, certification through an accredited organization such as the American Council on Exercise, or ACE, ensures that you've taken the classes, read the materials and passed the exam necessary for you to lead an aerobics class safely. You'll learn basic anatomy and kinesiology, nutrition and weight management, group exercise design and planning, exercise selection and injury prevention and business skills.

Certain types of aerobics, such as Zumba, may offer a proprietary certification. You typically attend a weekend or multi-weekend workshop to learn the skills necessary to teach that specific type of aerobics.

Find a Location

There are many places you can teach aerobics classes. You can find employment at health clubs, gyms, community centers and boutique fitness studios. You can also work independently, teaching at community centers, schools and retirement homes or renting private space. When you find a location, take note of the size of the room and the number of students you expect to have so you can plan your routines accordingly.

Plan Ahead

Unless you have years and years of experience, advance planning is a must. Design your class according to the ages and fitness levels of those that will be attending. For instance, if a gym has hired you to teach aerobics to seniors, you'll want to plan a lower-impact routine than you would for younger participants.

Plan each move or series of moves. Write down each step and rehearse it so you know exactly how the sequence goes. Think of modifications you can offer to make moves more or less challenging depending on the fitness level of your students. Write down the various moves that you want to incorporate into your routine, and plan your time accordingly. In the beginning you might want to keep your "cheat sheet" nearby for reference.

Plan your cues so that they are clear and easy to follow. Lead a friend or family member through the routine and ask for feedback on choreography, cueing and music.

Choose Your Music

Appropriate music is crucial for teaching a good aerobics class. Choose music that's too slow and your students won't be challenged; choose music that's too fast and they'll have problems keeping up.

According to the International Fitness Association, you should choose music with the appropriate number of beats per minute, or BPM, for the type of aerobics you are teaching. For example:

  • High-impact aerobics: 135 to 160 BPM

  • Low-impact aerobics: 133 to 148 BPM

  • Step aerobics: 120 to 127 BPM

Most importantly, make sure your routine is in sync with the music. Not only is an off-beat routine annoying to your students, but it can also cause injuries from trips and falls if students can't find the rhythm.

Stay in Character

You can approach each class as if you have a role to play, even if it comes naturally to you. Stay upbeat and enthusiastic through the entire class. If you forget a step or you have technical difficulties, keep the students moving and don't lose your cool. Continually offer words of encouragement if you see students who are struggling to keep up. After class, make sure everyone leaves feeling positive and accomplished.

Ask for Feedback

While it may hurt your self-esteem as an instructor to hear that you moved too quickly, didn't cue well or needed better music, student feedback is the only way that you'll know what to improve on for the next class you teach.

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