(Guest article by your average 30-year-old with a full-time job, teaching yoga for the peace of mind and extra dough :) As part of our Side Hustle Series.)
I started practicing yoga three years ago after injuring myself training for a marathon. I was going to classes 5-7 times a week and it wasn’t long before I started imagining my life getting paid to practice yoga and getting certified to teach my own classes. For me, yoga was the avenue I chose because I was good at it, but for you, this might mean Pilates, spin, Zumba, and the choices go on and on.
How To Get Started
Getting certified to teach a fitness class can be time consuming, and will most likely require an initial investment on your part, but there are quite a few programs out there that will get you certified and ready to teach.
My particular yoga program was 9 weeks long (mostly weekends) and required about a $2,500 investment – but this was also a top notch program and Yoga Alliance accredited. This basically translates to being able to teach just about anywhere (studios, health clubs, gyms, YMCAs, private companies, hospitals, churches, you name it). To be certified to teach a basic gym yoga class may only require a day of your time. There are quite a few other certifications that might only require a weekend and cost in the hundreds. The initial time and money can be a tough pill to swallow, but the money isn’t hard to recoup.
How Much You Can Make
As a yoga teacher, you can expect to be paid anywhere from $15-$40+ per hour. This depends on the market you live in (Chicago and NYC will pay more than say Denver or Dallas) and where you’re teaching. An upscale studio, spa or health club will pay higher than the local YMCA or community rec center. The “hour” might also include being at the studio to open up 20-30 minutes before class and can include staying afterward to clean up and lock the doors.
As for private lessons, most teachers charge from $60 and up per hour. Some of the studios I teach at will allow me to use the space for that as long as there isn’t another class scheduled. There are also studios that will pay you per student in the class so it’s mostly about finding a space and money situation that works best for you. I’ve found I prefer the gym setting because I walk in to the classroom, teach the class (usually less than an hour) and then leave without any other duties.
The best benefits? I no longer pay for gym memberships or studio classes, since everywhere I teach gives me access as part of my employment. One of the places where I teach has also offered me the chance to get certified in other disciplines (Pilates, personal training, etc.) and they would pay for it. My husband can also often practice yoga in my classes for free and he has a very reduced price spouse membership at one of my gyms.
How I Got Started
I had an interesting situation when I started as we moved from Chicago to Dallas about 3 weeks after I finished my certification classes. If I had stayed, teaching jobs would have been slightly easier to find as I could have applied to stay on where I took my cert classes and I already had contacts at several studios and gyms. Starting from scratch in Dallas, however, was easier than I thought it would be.
First, I contacted quite a few group fitness coordinators and studio owners. I found my own class to teach within a week and broke into some other places by offering to be on their sub list (teachers or managers will contact you when a class is available to be subbed and this happens ALL THE TIME). I’ve actually found that substitute teaching is more convenient for me (since I also work full-time) so that I can teach when I want to and as my schedule allows.
I started teaching in September and have already recouped all of my training fees.
The money I’m making now via teaching goes directly into a new travel bank account I set up. Doing it this way has made me more motivated to pick up classes as each one makes that vacation fund grow! I’ve also had some regularly schedule classes fall into my lap as time has gone on, and I’m at the point where I’m turning things down from time to time because I’ve gotten so busy.
My original thought behind getting certified was that I might do it as more of a full-time hustle if we ever have kids and I want to quit my current gig. For now, my goal is to get on every sub list in town and continue to get my name out there so that when I do want to take this as more than just a side hustle, I’ll be ready. I’m currently turning down 1-2 classes a week that I’m offered, and in fact I was just offered another permanent class opportunity via email while writing this up for J$!
Other Things to Keep In Mind
As a fitness instructor, you are typically paid as an independent contractor so you will have to be aware of the taxes that need to be paid at the end of the year. However, you can also write off quite a few of your expenses related to teaching:
- workout clothing
- mats and other props/gear
- pedicures (because who wants a yoga teacher with gross feet!)
- cell phone usage/internet
- music purchases for class playlists, etc.
Some places will also require you to have your own yoga liability insurance (less than $200/year) and to get CPR certified, but again, one of my employers pays for me to do this and pays me for the time in training. Next year, I will most likely not carry insurance for myself since my current employers don’t require it (unless I have an influx of private lessons coming in).
You also have to be comfortable in front of people as your students will watch your every move. I was nervous before I started the certification program, but my teachers did a great job of preparing us for that.
Yoga in The Future
The yoga and fitness community is exploding right now and there are constantly opportunities for growth. In the six months we’ve been in Texas, several new studios have opened, existing studios have remodeled and expanded, and most gyms are trying to offer more classes to their members.
I had to hustle for a couple of months when we got here, but now that I’ve become more established the opportunities to make money have been falling into my lap. It’s especially great as a side hustle since most of the classes are held in the early morning, lunch hours or evenings.
If you love yoga or fitness, give it a shot!
Got a side hustle YOU’D like to share with us? Let us know!