Week 1 of group fitness instructor training

I’m paying a lot more attention in fitness classes these days especially to the instructor – focusing on their encouragement, cues, music. Why? I’m finally pulled the trigger and I’m now training to become a group fitness instructor! 

Why do this?
I toyed with this idea for a while. I was a coxswain from high school up until grad school in Boston which means I led a ton of practices and had to encourage and correct form during workouts (mostly rowing workouts). Becoming a group fitness instructor doesn’t fulfill any career goals of mine.  I’d love to eventually teach at a studio one day after getting some experience. 
I heard about Shape UP NYC almost a year and half ago. I’ve done my research and I do realize that all I need to do to become a group fitness instructor is study for and take a $300 test (plus pay $99 for my CPR certification). Personally, I would have no idea what works for the practical and the last time I took any science or anatomy related class was high school (anatomy seems to be a huge part of this). 
Part of the commitment of the 10 week training is a 6 month internship where I would be leading a fitness class once a week in the borough I trained in. If I want my actual AFAA certification (SU follows their curriculum), I can sign up on my own. As someone mentioned, it makes sense to do an internship prior to getting the certification to solidify your decision in paying and passing the certification.

What is Shape UP NYC?

Shape Up NYC is a free program that hosts fitness classes out of community centers and NYC recreation centers around the City. From what I’ve seen and researched, the classes taught are a mix of SU fitness It’s part of the NYC Parks Department and was launched in 2011. instructor “interns” and seasoned professionals.  There are programs running in each borough (spring and fall) and one of it’s largest sponsors is Equinox.


My first day of class was last Saturday at McCarren Play Center in Williamsburg (for the record, it’s really nice!). Prior to starting, they had emailed us some materials we needed for class with some guidelines: bring a lock (eventually I found out we needed the space to get up and practice moves and couldn’t bring bags, etc. into the room), notebook, pens and must be changed in workout clothes.


Class opened with an icebreaker (fitness bingo), then finally sat down to go over guidelines (do homework, attend class, must pass the final exam, etc.),  before breaking up into groups to demo and explain workout moves like high knees to the rest of the class. Class really felt a lot like high school, giving a group presentation and the teacher, Amanda throwing out questions to the group “what are the modifications?” “how would you combine movements?” We ended class with a sweaty 20 minute workout led by Amanda.

Amanda Young, a group fitness instructor and full-time social worker, led us through class with assistance from the Shape Up director and the volunteer coordinator (my contact person). I had a membership to Equinox for over a year and had seen her name on the schedule. You can find her bio on their website. (Source)

My fellow classmates

There was around 60 of us though I’ve been told, the number dwindles down a bit by the end of training. My classmates are diverse in every way possible: age range of 20something to at least 60 something with all different careers (there was a cop and an engineer in my group though both were personal trainers on the side) and workout backgrounds. 


We’re required to get NYC recreation center memberships. Since I don’t turn 25 for another few days, I got the young adult membership for $25 – good for a year. In a few weeks, we’ll have to under go the background check to teach and that’s $60. 
Since I’m away for a week, I won’t be able to make week 2’s class in Brooklyn.  So I’ll be making up week 2 next Thursday with the Manhattan class before jumping into week 3’s class two day’s later.

We were told to start thinking about what we want to teach. I would love to teach spin but since that isn’t an option, I’d love to teach a bootcamp class.

2 thoughts on “Week 1 of group fitness instructor training

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