Becoming a Licensed Zumba Instructor

I recently was asked by one of my Zumba participants if we could meet and discuss Zumba!  She recently became a licensed instructor and wanted to ask some questions and just talk about teaching in general before she starts looking for a teaching job.  I figured I could share some of the same things with you!

Why and how I become a Licensed Zumba Instructor.

I had been taking Zumba classes and participating in different Zumba events on campus throughout undergrad and LOVED it!  It combined two of my favorite things: fun fitness and dance, into one cardio-blasting, smile-producing workout!  I wanted to help others find joy in fitness, so one of my sorority sisters and I decided to get our licenses.  We signed up for the closest Zumba Basic 1 Instructor’s Training in June 2012.

Zumba Basic

Basic 1 Training: It was an all-day event, including master classes with some amazing instructors, breakdowns of the core four Zumba styles and moves, and discussions on good instructor styles and skills.  The master instructors were terrific and did a really good job at helping us master some of the steps and answering our many questions!  If I remember correctly, the training went from about 9am-5 or 6pm with a few breaks for changing, lunch, and snacks!  We worked up quite the sweat and took away a lot of new ideas, skills, and things to try.  You walked away with an amazing instructor’s guide, the Basic 1 core DVD for practicing those core movements, and a CD/DVD with choreography and songs you could use in a class!

I went home and practiced and practiced!  I practiced teaching on anyone I could; my mom, my sisters, and my friends were all excellent judges and gave me feedback on how I could improve my teaching and Zumba skills!


After a month of what seemed like non-stop Zumba practicing, I reached out to a local fitness facility and was hired as an instructor.  I was incredibly nervous before my first class, but it went incredibly smoothly!  I continued to reach out and apply to teach at more facilities in the area.  I’ve taught at gyms, nutrition clubs, and the local senior center.  I currently teach 4 Zumba classes a week and am still LOVING it!  I always take some time to talk to my participants about how the classes are going and use that feedback to tailor each class to the participant’s needs.  And I still love feedback from participants and supervisors, it helps me become an even better, more effective, energetic instructor!

Things I would recommend doing before teaching your first class that I found helpful.

  • Having music back-up.  I felt much more comfortable knowing that a CD with my playlist was at the ready should something with my iPhone or the iPod hookup went wrong.
  • Practice your exact playlist – in order, thoroughly, for someone else.  Essentially, I gave a practice class to one of my sisters.  It helped me make sure that my playlist was varied in music style, intensity, and made the transition between songs more comfortable.
  • Arrive early!  I was calmer knowing my music was set-up and working, I knew the room I would be in, and I had waivers at the ready when I went to greet participants!
  • Breathe.  Remember you are well prepared and that you want your participants to have a safe, fun fitness party!

We also spent some time talking about cueing and what works/doesn’t work.  Essentially, Zumba asks you to steer away from verbal cueing and prefers physical cues – I often hold both hands up, clap, or use my hand to direct participants to a particular side.  It depends on the choreography and what works best for your participants!

Other things that happened today:

I taught Zumba for an hour, conducted a running circuit workout, and completed Day 3 of the CHAARG fitplan!  The fitplan today was called Thrasher II and was a crazy intense cardio circuit.  Some of the moves included:

  • Side burpees
  • Walking push-ups
  • X-jumps
  • Plank-ups
  • Mule kicks

It was a heart-pumping, sweaty good time!  The perfect way to get my jitters out before sitting in 5 hours of class 🙂

Let’s chat 🙂

What qualities do YOU appreciate about group fitness instructors?


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