The Right Course, The Right Time, The Right Place

Whether you are a full-time fitness professional or it’s a part-time interest for you, there’s a course out there to add another instructing string to your bow.

I’ve been practicing yoga for over 14 years now. It began by following a few dreadlocked and patchouli-scented participants into the crèche at my local YMCA as a teenager for Iyengar yoga. Many years later, I discovered the elation of mastering an elusive pose in Power Yoga.

My passion was really ignited upon travelling to Bali, Barcelona and Paris and discovering more about the history and the philosophy of yoga. There is an incredible depth and spirituality to the practice, both on and off the mat. It is also a universal language: I did several yoga classes in Paris and Barcelona and couldn’t understand more than two words, yet I stayed in rhythm with the class.

Why now, 14 years after swearing I’d never go back to a sweaty, smelly room for stretching (my first impressions of my initial experience!), am I choosing to become a certified yoga instructor?

I have the experience of instructing and training in other disciplines and the experience of having been a yoga student for so long that I know the power of yoga to heal, restore and rejuvenate holistically. Wherever I have travelled, or worked, I have sought it out. Bringing that passion and experience to people who are curious and willing to take my cues truly excites and inspires me. I’m choosing now because I have considered what I want my future to look like, what I’m passionate about, and what I really want to share with people. I have also done my research and found an instructor, a studio and a course that ticks all the boxes for me.

Fitness is always evolving. You can’t teach the same thing forever. Even if fitness industry registration didn’t require us to prove ongoing education, any fitness professional worth their salt would want to learn new skills, formats and disciplines to keep their career fresh and their participants interested. So, with a multitude of courses out there, how do you decide which feather to add to your cap next?

Deciding what to learn next

We should all do what excites and inspires us in our careers. Whether you are a full-time fitness professional or it’s a part-time interest for you, there’s a course out there for you. Naturally, the factors of location, duration, timing and price will come into play. My advice is not to sacrifice one of these advantages for another. Don’t choose the cheaper course if doing a more expensive one will give you additional certificates and the benefit of official registration. Don’t pick a shorter course in one topic if you are more passionate about another discipline that requires more learning hours. Don’t enrol in kettlebell training if your heart leaps at the idea of teaching dance.

Start by asking yourself what your goal of upskilling is and what you hope to achieve once qualified. If you choose to study Pilates, do you want to work in clinical practice or are you happy to work in gyms? If you become a yoga instructor, do you want to practice Iyengar or Bikram? Do you want this qualification to add to your existing resume or are you new to fitness with no group fitness certificates? Is there demand for instructors with these skills? These are all questions you need to both ask yourself, and discuss with a course provider.

As a qualified Pilates instructor and fitness professional I have studied anatomy and the principles of alignment, using breath to assist in movement, sequencing exercises and tailoring exercise to individuals. This study, combined with practical instructing experience, has helped me be a ‘good’ yoga student, but has also given me the grounding to, hopefully, become a great yoga instructor.

If your budget, your schedule and existing commitments only allow you to do a shorter course, think strategically. Which course can provide you with the essential elements and certification to move on to the qualifications you really want to do?

Perhaps you do a short course in a dance discipline with the aim of enrolling full time in a year or so. This is a great option for those who have a vast interest in fitness generally and want to test out their ability and desire to teach specialist classes.

I have chosen to study my 200 hour yoga teacher training under the tutelage of instructors I have previously worked for and taken yoga classes with. I know my instructor has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and also has qualifications and professional experience in dance and performance. She has studied yoga in India and America and now runs her own studio. I am familiar with the venue, how to get there and the time it takes. I know her teaching style.

Take all these things into consideration when choosing a course that feels right for you. Have you met the instructor? If not, can your colleagues, friends or family attest to their credibility and instructing ability? Even then, consider that what works for one might not work for another. Do you prefer hands-on style training or do you like a lot of theory and written material to assist in learning?

It may seem counterintuitive to how we all search for information thesedays, but your best bet is not to do a random Google search for a course, but rather seek advice from trusted colleagues and fellow fitness professionals who have undertaken the type of qualification you’re seeking. Ask as many questions as you can to determine whether it sounds right for you. This is about more than money: it’s your time and it can shape your career now and into the long term.

Seek courses through trusted providers. Major fitness bodies and organisations, including Fitness Australia, Physical Activity Australia and Australian Fitness Network, list providers and upcoming courses in your state. Pay attention to the number of CEC or PDP points you will accrue through undertaking any course, as these will go towards your ongoing registration as a fitness professional in Australia.

Finally, follow your heart. As much as one course might give you a stable, steady income, if you truly want to qualify as a trapeze instructor, there is a course out there for you and you’ll find opportunities.

Cat Woods founded her Melbourne-based Ballet Sculpt as a barre class that doesn’t require a barre. She is also a writer and blogger with a passion for arts, health, beauty and design. Cat is available to deliver presentations on positive body image and cultivating a healthy and happy culture. and  @catty_tweeter