Every fitness establishment represents an opportunity to instruct, but every opportunity won’t necessarily work for every instructor. Finding the right gym is as important as finding the right certification to pursue. I learned from the “mistakes” I made, but I also collected a couple of suggestions and “I wish I had…” stories from fellow instructors. So, of course I had to compile a few pointers for finding, and remaining at, the right gyms.

My excitement after getting my certification hoodwinked me into contracting for a location that was a bit too far from my home. The particular location I’m talking about wasn’t an absolutely absurd distance away from home mileage-wise. I didn’t have to cross state lines or anything, but it did require an interstate, an expressway, and a jaunt down a typically-congested, super-long, 4-lane road. I don’t cherish the memories of me sprinting from my house knowing that a single red traffic light too many, or one motorist with a flat tire meant a class sitting in the cycle room glaring at the clock. And all for a one-hour class after which I would retrace my drive all the way home. Even financially it was a bad move.

My reason for accepting the opening was simple; it was available. I’d accepted a class at another of their locations, but I still needed a second class in order to start at this gym chain. Still, I should have waited. I was frazzled when I arrived for class, and even when I managed to arrive very early, I wasn’t comfortable. I never did get quite accustomed to the place. Which brings me to my next point.

I think it’s best to choose only places where you can see yourself staying for a while. Jumping from place to place won’t allow certain things…like building a following and creating relationships with participants. Getting to know participants is an incredible opportunity to network and market yourself, and that’s something we all need.

A friend ran into a couple of situations that would have sliced her weekly schedule, and thus her income, in half had she not been thorough. She said this, “When you interview at a fitness center, be sure to find out all the details of your contract.”

Some gyms require exclusivity, meaning that an instructor can instruct only for them and the other locations in their chain. This can severely limit income opportunities and opportunities to simply expand and increase your network! That being said, the exclusivity clause may work for some, and that’s great. Just be aware of it.

Also, getting to know other instructors at your gym is recommended. They could be the people you call on to sub your classes when something suddenly comes up and you simply cannot make it. And they will call on you. So go introduce yourself, sit in on a few of their classes, exchange cell and email info, and reach out to them every once in a while.

A friend’s experience says it’s a bad feeling to be coming down with the flu, have a class in a couple hours, and absolutely no one to call!

Now we want to know about your experiences. What is your best tip for finding the right gym? Let us know in the comments!

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at www.ruleboutiquewritingservices.com. If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.