A day, a Week, and a Month – Life of the Fitness Instructor

Going on a year in the fitness industry I definitely have mixed reviews from other instructors and my previous impressions of what working in the industry would entail. I guess this is my way of giving the – so you’re certified in group fitness, now what? explanation by providing you with a day, week, and month in the life.

I find it is always best to start at the beginning and my journey started with finishing my 200 hr YTT in August of 2018 and trying to apply for a part time job to supplement my teaching schedule. I applied to numbers of jobs and there were some jobs where I applied knowing I wouldn’t get the position because they wanted 1-2 years of experience. This is when I realized fitness, like some industries has that, chicken or the egg, type experience where you may need to start working there as a desk attendant or just a sub with not set hours before you can build into having a more set schedule. Before giving up I received my first job from a boutique studio that was just starting a yoga program. And I lucked out that they would take a chance on me.

Before going into fitness as a career the week was like – teach 8 hours M-F, volunteer teaching yoga to the fellow teachers two times after school, go home, complete IEPs and grades, then on Saturdays teach 2 yoga classes to try and make some extra money. And for those who are looking for fitness as a supplement this may just be your week! Most people choose to keep their full time and teach maybe an evening class or two, maybe classes on the weekends to force themselves to get a workout in because who can do that with a busy schedule, AND you get paid to do so.

Now, I have transitioned in working in fitness and I can dissect a little more just what the day/ week/ month is like.

Day – Week Day (BTW this is a somewhat template. Other days there are more subbing than showed, or less classes and more free time. The schedule changes depending on what hours the gyms you work at have available. And yes, gyms, because unless you find the unicorn of gyms you will have to travel between 2/3 if you are making this more of your job)

Alarm goes off – 7:00 am (4:00 am for those that choose the 5 am/6 am classes, not me, YET!)

Sometimes you’re up even earlier! This is the time to work on your personal practice or work on some moves for the days classes!

7:15 – out of bed, form my to do list. I use the app – Daily To-do List because it crosses thing out for me so I can make sure I get stuff done. I have 3 lists made M/W/F, T/Th, Weekend, and Daily because I try my best to not make EVERYTHING a daily task.

7:30 – in the car – driving and playing my mindfulness practice using the meditation app – Happy Not Perfect. Once that is done its on to Spotify (by the way a Premium purchase, ~$10 a month, will be the best bet for making playlists) to try and find good new songs that I throw into a playlist labeled either: yoga, mat pilates, yin, or cycle, to later review for the following week’s classes.

8:00 – 30 min before my first class get a strength or cardio workout in so you have a moment to get yourself worked in. I know I had mentioned about getting paid to workout. This is not entirely the truth. In class you should be focused on your class. So giving these 15 min to get that sweat in for you either before or after is always good. Depending on how much time I have between classes I may even try to swim to bring back the old feeling of the pool. I swam competitively for 10 years.

8:15 – Set up the class. You should arrive 15-20 min early to every class because it gives you time to say hi, get to know your clients and make the connections you need. It also allows you to have any props or equipment set for your clients so there isn’t time used getting everything.

8:30 – class start

9:45 – subbing second class or personal workout time along with coffee or protein shake to keep going

11:00 – subbing third class – if not subbing it’s a one hour break to either workout or get lunch.

Starbucks studying chemistry, personal training, and trying to get some mindfulness reading during a free hour

12-4 walking dogs, class prepping, positing on social media about your schedule and future classes, applying for other fitness instructor jobs (because the schedule is never full), instacart work, or part time retail. This is where I explain that in fitness there is for the most part this huge gap between classes. You will work opposite the 9-5 because everyone is at work during the middle of the day. You may an the off chance get a noon class for those who try to get their fitness in during their lunch break, but it’s seldom. This being said this time block is where odd jobs come in. I personally do the shopping, dog walking, and tutor to fill the time. Right now this is filled with my summer class.

4:15 – prep for class

4:30 – class

5:30 – prep for class, chat with clients on some soreness that they have and what poses can be used to stretch the muscles, and foam rolling techniques to allow for

5:45 – class

6:45 – class

7:15 – class

8:00 – driving home ~30-40 min depending on the day

9:00 – dinner if hungry, and studying, class prep, chores, and setting up for the next day.

Rinse, lather, repeat

Day – Weekend (again somewhat of a template based on real life)

8:00 – alarm (I don’t have super early Saturday or Sunday classes…YET)

9:15 – prep for class.

9:30 – class

10:35 – class

11:35 – reach out to friends about brunch, if not go home. Study, class prep, post to social media about the upcoming week, provide some fitness information to clients to aid with frequent issues that you saw arise during the week.

Rinse, lather, repeat

I choose not to work 7 days a week. No one should, and this is where before I give a week and a month info explain this. In fitness part of the job has really taught me how to have the strength to say no. Often times you will get texts, hourly, if not daily about needing subs for fitness classes. Also people will ask if you work on weekends and if you’re will to work one or both days. It is important for you to take care of yourself, not just for you, but now in fitness you are a model of what people see for good health. You want to set the best example.

A week in the life – with the dissection of the weekday and the weekend day I feel this covers it with the rinse, lather, repeat, because this is how it will get to feel once you are more accustomed with having the ability to make your own schedule and set your routine. I will let you know that there is an adjustment period to this. You get so used to school and more traditional jobs which are 9-5 and your done. This is not the case with fitness. You will find yourself with super early or late dinners, asking people if they can meet for lunch or on weekends (if that day is free for you) and napping. My week is usually filled with trying to make sure I have my schedule set and written down in 3 different places because there’s 3/4/5 different places I am going to in one day. I live a bit out of my car with a change of non-fitness clothes, protein bars, yoga props, 3 different pairs of shoes, and shower stuff. Be prepared – girl and boy scouts are right about this one!

A month – by the end of the month, I will honestly say you have felt accomplished looking back at your schedule. I try to take either the end of a month or the beginning of the month to look back and really finalize what I could have done better, what I need to fix, what classes are and are not working for my schedule and trying to see if I am working at the right places as I get more and more in tune with the drive time (and there will be a lot!) and distance between places.

Going on to a year in fitness – wrapping up.

Ok, this was a lot to digest and process. I will say going on a year of doing this, your first year will be rocky, and bumpy. You may ask yourself why you are doing this type of schedule and why you are working mini part time jobs to make ends meet. But looking back, I am so much happier from when I was teaching. I have the ability to make my own schedule and do things I never thought I would have time to do!

Take away tips:

  • Give yourself ample time to drive between gyms. You think 20 min may be enough for a 15 min drive. 99.99% of the time it won’t be. Double it!
  • Take a day off – I mean it! A full day!
  • Don’t underestimate contract work – this could be dog walking, grocery shopping, blog post writing, aiding with social media at the yoga studio you work at. This will help pad the hours and pad your wallet as well.
  • Don’t stop learning – find your modality and stick to it, but if you notice there is an area you’re interested in or another class you would like to teach, learn how to teach it! Gyms love people with multiple certs, because you become their go to person when they need help, and if they decide to add classes you then become the person they ask to add to the schedule
  • Say no when you want to – this is important. The first 2 months of my fitness journey was Yes, Yes, and YES! This led to a really quick and very painful burnout that I needed an immediate vacation to recover. Don’t do this. Know your limits and set them a little before that boundary so you’re kept in a healthy safe position for work.


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