Each week, more than 14 million people attend a Zumba Fitness class somewhere in the world, according to the Zumba Fitness website. That’s a lot of people, and it speaks volumes about the popularity and promise of the Latin dance-inspired fitness program. Whether you have experience in dance or you simply love the experience of attending a Zumba class, the next step may be to become an instructor yourself.
What does a Zumba instructor typically do?
Zumba instructors’ specific duties include:
- Leading groups of people in dance fitness
- Choreographing fitness routines and choosing music
- Helping others learn the fun and function of dance fitness
- Monitoring the group to ensure everyone’s staying safe
Zumba instructors work in fitness centers, gyms, and sometimes even schools. They may be employees or they may be independent contractors.
As a Zumba instructor, you’ll have the option of being your own boss and running your own classes at your own center, or working for a larger company in a gym or fitness center. How much you earn can depend on how many people attend your classes and, if you work for someone else, your experience level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, group fitness instructors across the board earned the following as of May 2012:
Entry level $17,630
Mid Career (or median wage) $31,720
To work as a Zumba instructor, you’ll follow a prescribed path that typically includes:
- Attending wide variety of Zumba classes. Some instructors are more focused on Latin dance steps such as cumbia or salsa; other instructors use a mix of Latin dances as well as hip hop, reggaeton, African and East Indian styles of dance. Knowing what other instructors do can help you get a feel for the styles you most enjoy and the type of music you’ll use in your own classes.
- Asking your instructors about opportunities to attend classes taught by Zumba "jammers" -- the cream of the crop when it comes to Zumba instructors -- who can push your skills to the next level and help you get in even better shape.
- Visiting the Zumba Fitness website and sign up for the Zumba Basic 1 class. In this initial training you’ll learn the ins and outs of the four basic rhythms, including cumbia, salsa, reggaeton and merengue. The training is one or two days long, and after completion, you’ll receive a one-year license to teach Zumba. If you’re already a certified fitness instructor, such as a personal trainer, for example, this training will also give you continuing education credits in many cases. You’ll then be eligible to be part of the Zumba Instructor Network, which gives you access to marketing tools and other networking opportunities.
- Talk to your favourite instructors about filling in on their classes, or jumping in to lead a song or two. This is one step toward getting the word out about your offerings as a new Zumba instructor. After that initial training, you can also start applying for openings at health and fitness centers, or start your own classes in school gyms or community centers.
Skills that come in handy as a Zumba instructor include:
- Motivational skills
- An upbeat, friendly attitude
- Knowledge of dance, music and overall rhythm
- Physical fitness
Career Growth and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job prospects for fitness instructors look about as good as they do for other professions through the year 2022. To see the best chance of success, also consider becoming a personal trainer or a certified fitness instructor, to complement your career.
Zumba training will teach you how to lead a group using Zumba songs, but it doesn’t delve much into warm-ups and cool-downs or knowing what to do should a class participant experience breathing problems or other health issues. For fitness instructor training, consider a certification from the American Council on Exercise or another program recommended by the IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
After your first training, you’ll have the opportunity to attend other trainings to give you experience in teaching Zumba Gold, Zumba Step or other specialty classes.
Your career as an instructor is just beginning at this point -- so go out and give it your all.
Image courtesy JBLM MWR, Flickr