Side Jam Interview – Teaching Exercise Class


During our past few interviews, we’ve focused on ways to make money online in the digital arena. And while there are endless possibilities for online side hustles, today, I’d like to focus on another way to benefit from an existing skillset.

I had the pleasure to meet with Cheryl, who works in the corporate world by day and teaches exercise classes in her spare time.

When I originally asked her to participate in the Side Jam interview series, she was surprised I considered her exercise classes a side hustle. She just thought it was something she enjoyed doing, and it was a bonus that she could earn a few bucks by sharing her passion with others.

But That’s the Point I’d Love To Convey Through This Interview Series —

It doesn’t have to be this elaborate plan to create an online business, or pay off a massive amount of debt, or get a process in place to eventually replace your day job.

I mean, all of those things are great goals to have, and having a plan will make success all the more attainable.

But there are things you might not even think about — things you do every day — that can be a side hustle.

It doesn’t have to make you a millionaire. And you might love it so much you’d do it for free regardless.

I think it’s important for everyone to realize they have talents. And you can choose to use these talents to your advantage in any number of ways, whether it’s by volunteering, mentoring, encouraging, or teaching.

And yes, dancing to 80’s music can be a Side Jam!

The Introduction

And now, here is more about Cheryl:  

My name is Cheryl, and I’m a 40-something woman who lives in Massachusetts. Although I work in the corporate world, I’ve always loved both music and dancing.

I dreamed of someday becoming a “Solid Gold” dancer when I was a young girl. But, unfortunately, many of you are probably too young to understand that reference.

But back in the ’80s, they were the hottest dancers on TV. I loved watching the show and dancing along. Even now, I can’t stop myself from rockin’ to a good beat.

I hear you, girlfriend! I had a similar obsession with the TV show “Dance Party USA“!! Partly for the dancing, but mostly because I had major crushes on two of the show regulars — Bobby with the shades and Joe with the poufy blonde hair. 


The Interview Questions

Tell us about a fun, unique, or interesting Side Jam you’ve tried:

Two nights a week, I step away from my desk job, put on a headset microphone, turn up the music, and teach a group exercise class at my gym!


How/why did you get started with teaching exercise class? 

My favorite type of exercise (if you had to choose a favorite exercise) has always been group classes. I started taking a Yoga-Pilates Fusion class over ten years ago and fell in love with it.

It was challenging, yet also relaxing. And with exercise moves choreographed to modern music, it was also loads of fun.

So when my favorite exercise class instructor told us she would be leaving to have a baby, I thought to myself, “I can totally teach this…” And now I am!


The Details

How Much Time Do You Spend per Month Teaching Exercise Class?

While the classes are only an hour long, I spend quite a bit of time preparing for them. I teach classes two nights per week and spend an additional 1- 2 hours a week just learning the choreography I plan on teaching.

So a typical month will entail 8 hours of teaching, plus 4-8 hours learning new stuff or refreshing my memory on older material.


In general, how profitable has this activity been? (financially, or even educationally, lessons learned) 

I never got into it for the profit, although it’s been a great source of extra “play” money for me. I get paid $20 a class, plus I use the gym for free. Gym membership is typically $50 per month, so the savings right there is worth it.

But more so than the money, it’s kept me motivated (or forces me when I don’t feel quite as motivated!) to go to the gym 3-5 times a week. And I’ve done this for the past eight years.


The Learning

What type of research or learning curve is required for this Side Jam? 

Since the specific class I teach (Group Centergy) is part of a nationwide program, I was required to attend a 3-day training program. After the training, I had to submit a video of myself teaching the class to become certified.

There are also many other types of classes you can teach with a single day of training, or even just by watching videos online.

The first several months of teaching were a little shaky for me. But the more I taught, the more confident I became. And now, I honestly don’t even think about being nervous. Teaching the exercise class has just become second nature to me.


What Tips Would You Have for Someone Looking To Get Started With Teaching an Exercise Class?

Find something you enjoy because your love for the class (or type of exercise) will shine through to those you teach.

Do your research on the various types of training offered, and seek out a reputable program. Some programs provide more instruction than others.

Here are a few good resources that can help you get started:

ASFA – American Sports and Fitness Association

ISSA – International Sports Science Association

ACE – American Council on Exercise

Also, the class I teach, Group Centergy, is through the MOSSA program.

In addition, Les Mills offers similar training programs to MOSSA.


Side Jam Interview - Teaching Exercise Class - Woman doing Yoga on the Beach
Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash


The Reflection

Overall, what have you learned by doing this activity? (soft skills, limitations, introspection, character-building, or any literal skills) 

Leading an exercise class has taught me how to identify the needs of a diverse group of people. Depending on individual skill level and expertise, some may need modifications for a specific movement, while others require more encouragement.

In addition, some may want even more of a challenge. Therefore, it’s important to know how to provide different cues to 20-30 people all at once!

Teaching exercise class has also allowed me to become more comfortable speaking in front of large groups. I’m able to build a rapport with others while in a group, as well as one-on-one.

And I’ve been able to help others achieve their fitness goals while staying active and healthy myself.


Is this something you would like to continue doing? Why or why not? 

I’m still teaching and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!


The Wrap Up

So here are a few (golden) nuggets of info I’d like to highlight from this interview:

  • We are all entrepreneurs in some way.
  • Even if it’s not full-time, we all have things we are teaching (whether we realize it or not) and unique perspectives to share.
  • Trying new things may feel uncomfortable or shaky at first. But the more you do it, the more at home you’ll feel in the situation.
  • Hold on to your dreams. It may take some time, and it might not look exactly as you imagined it would — but eventually, you’ll hit Solid Gold.
  • Feathered hair and headbands are best left in the ’80s—no need to repeat that fashion nightmare.


Thank You So Much, Cheryl!

I appreciate your perspective on using your talents to make some extra cash on the side.

I also love the correlation between identifying something you love (i.e. dancing), with ways to stay healthy and spread the knowledge to others.