Should You Specialize?

Posted by Amanda Vogel, MA
Constructive Criticism vs. Destructive Criticism

Many fitness instructors are able to teach a wide range of classes on a group exercise schedule, but there’s also something to be said for specializing in just a select few—or even just one—fitness format. For example, you might be all about Zumba® or have a reputation at your facility as the instructor for indoor cycling. These are specialties.

Specializing in a handful of group fitness formats can be great for your career in the fitness industry. Here are a few major benefits.

Stand Out From the Crowd

If you can position yourself as the go-to instructor in a particular teaching category, you’ll be able to create a more identifiable brand for yourself as an instructor. Standing out with a teaching niche is one effective way to grow your career as a recognizable fitness leader at your gym, in your community and perhaps even in the industry.

Increase Class Attendance

Consider that specializing could actually help you build up class numbers. For example, let’s say you didn’t specialize and you taught Zumba, HIIT, cycling, step and stretch classes all at one gym. Participants might perceive you as being always accessible. To them, there’s no pressure to pick one class over another—there are many choices for working out with you every week.

However, when you specialize, your availability becomes more exclusive and limited. With less opportunity to attend your class, many participants might feel more motivated to show up at the select classes you do teach.

Lessen the Chance of Burnout

There’s nothing more exhausting than trying to be everything to everyone, which can sometimes happen when you teach multiple formats. It takes time and energy to learn and update various teaching skills, plan appropriate playlists and constantly renew different sequences and choreography. The more types of classes you teach, the more responsibilities you have in these areas.

When you specialize, you’re able to focus your attention on specific formats while really getting to know the participants who enjoy those classes. In a nutshell, specializing simplifies and concentrates your efforts so you avoid feeling “all over the place” (a common culprit of burnout).

Improve Your Teaching Skills Faster

Like with anything, when you spread yourself too thin, you lessen your ability to excel at your biggest priorities. The more energy and time you have available to learn the specifics related to a fitness format—for example, Zumba or barre workouts—the better you’ll get at teaching that format.

Specializing is especially good for streamlining and sharpening your skills, both of which will make you a better overall instructor.

Bolster Enjoyment as a Fitness Instructor

Even for fitness instructors who lead a lot of different classes, it’s still common to discover a few favorites that stand out. You might notice that teaching some classes feels like an especially comfortable fit.

Fortunately, the classes that you are most passionate about also tend to be the best candidates for specializations. It’s not unusual to find that as you narrow your focus in group fitness, your love of teaching increases!

Interested in earning a specialty and valuable CEUs? Check out AFAA's lineup - from indoor cycle and Yoga to pilates and so much more. Click HERE.

Amanda Vogel, MA, human kinetics, is a self-employed fitness instructor, presenter and writer in Vancouver, B.C. In addition to being a social media consultant, Amanda tests fitness gadgets, gear and clothes and writes about them on her blog Find Amanda at @amandavogel on Twitter, @amandavogelfitness on Instagram and @FitnessWriter on Facebook.

Topics: Being a Fitness Professional

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