How to Get Certified to Teach Exercise/Dance Classes in Gyms

Written by pamela ann ludwig
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How to Get Certified to Teach Exercise/Dance Classes in Gyms
Cardio Belly Dance (dance image by from

Although dancing is considered an optimum form of exercise, many innovators in the fitness field have incorporated the most central concepts from fitness and weight loss into dance teaching, creating unique workouts set to energising music. Teaching this can be rewarding and fun, and as society becomes more health conscious, so does the demand grow for qualified, creative fitness teachers. Gyms look for instructors with the proper knowledge, experience and education to teach such courses, which includes valid certification.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Decide which type of exercise class you would like to teach. There is no shortage of dance-exercise fusion methods that safely and effectively combine to create a challenging and enjoyable workout. Many exercise methods take choreographic inspiration from belly dance, hip hop, ballet, Tahitian dance, striptease or Latin fusion forms. Some focus more on dance, such as some cardio belly dance forms that use choreography from Middle Eastern dance forms to create a cardiovascular workout; while others rely more heavily on exercise movements from non-dance forms such as yoga, light weightlifting and abdominal work.

  2. 2

    Take classes in the specific style you want to teach. Make sure you are able to physically execute all the moves required by the class; being able to demonstrate and effectively execute the moves of the exercise/dance form is required of the teacher.

  3. 3

    Prepare to take a certification course. Ask your instructor where she was certified, or see if it is possible to become certified online. When you have found the certification program you want, research prerequisites such as reading materials or a minimum level of expertise or other certification (CPR, ACE, etc.), and check prices. Certain certifications require more preparation and experience than others. Some forms, such as Pilates, will require you to take a specific number of classes before enrolling in the certification course; depending on the program, this could range from 20 to 100 hours. Some dance/fitness certifications require a certain level of mastery before becoming certified as well; the New York City Ballet Workout requires an advanced level of ballet to become a teacher of the method.

  4. 4

    Keep your certification current. Research the particular continuing education requirements for your program and how to fulfil them. Some require a re-certification or update every year. You will also need to keep your CPR training current.

  5. 5

    Continue your own study of dance and fitness. Take classes with other instructors, watch fitness DVDs, get inspired by different teaching methods and new moves; see if you can take classes for free at the gym you work for. Avoid boredom by infusing new moves and music into your classes; hip hop teachers can use some foreign hip hop songs; belly dance teachers can bring in props such as veils and finger cymbals; teachers of all styles can experiment with various versions of warm-ups and cool-downs.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider certifications in other complementary exercise forms. Getting certified in another dance or exercise form will help you understand the human body and movements better, as well as make you a more desirable candidate for a position as a fitness instructor in a gym.

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