Fitness studio

7 Steps To Start Teaching Yoga At Gyms | Complete Guide

To teach yoga at a gym can be challenging compared to teaching yoga at a yoga studio. For yoga teachers, teaching yoga is a form of spiritual practice. For athletes, the gym experience tends to be purely physical, and they practice yoga as a way to enhance their workouts. 

So, how to teach yoga at a gym? To teach yoga at a gym, you have to adjust your teaching style to engage athletes who seek yoga classes at the gym. You can do this by combining the physical aspects of workouts with the spiritual practice of yoga. You will need to adjust to a different style of teaching yoga, which is relevant for the gym environment.

Gym members seek physical stimulation, which is not entirely in alignment with the spiritual elements of yoga. However, there are ways to combine the two. This guide will teach you how to prepare yourself to teach yoga at a gym.

While switching up the traditional yoga teaching style might sound challenging; in reality, it’s relatively easy. If you want to learn precisely how to switch your style up and effectively meet the needs of gym members who are looking to practice yoga, read on.

Teaching Yoga At Gyms Vs. Yoga Studios

yoga at gym

As a yoga professional, you have the option of teaching yoga at a traditional yoga studio, and you can also work at a gym. Fitness centers are trendy throughout the country, and many of them hire instructors who can teach yoga to their members.

The current consumer trend is that people are moving away from yearly memberships. You will find that consumers tend to purchase class-packs and visit multiple fitness and yoga studios. 

A large number of students also use fitness aggregators like Class Pass and visit multiple studios at highly discounted prices.

Given this trend, fitness centers and gyms are beginning to offer an all-in-one experience to their members. Due to this, it is relatively common now for gyms to include yoga classes in their memberships. The result is that there is a high demand for yoga teachers who can teach in the gym environment.

Teaching Yoga At A Gym Teaching Yoga At A Yoga Studio
Yoga teacher qualifications Certification required but limited focus on work experience. Ideal for new yoga teachers Certifications and previous experience teaching yoga is required
Teaching environment High energy environment with many distractions Dedicated space, calm, meditative environment
Personal relationships Class composition changes regularly. Difficult to form personal relationships as students are not regulars to the class Students tend to be regulars and personal relationships form easily
Pay/Salary Yoga classes often offered as part of gym membership. Pay is lower as compared to yoga studios unless you are working at a big gym chain Higher pay offered at yoga studios

Yoga At Gyms

The largest gyms have exclusive studios where members go to attend yoga classes, and they employ yoga instructors on a full-time basis. Smaller boutique gyms tend to have instructors who come in for 1-2 sessions a day, and they pay them based on student attendance or a fixed fee per session.

Yoga classes at gyms vary in difficulty, from beginner to advanced classes. Compared to yoga studios, there are slight differences in the way students learn, the price models, and the teaching style. Teaching at gyms might not be suitable for you, or it could be the career opportunity you’ve been looking for depending on which teaching environment you prefer. 

Generally, if you prefer more “upbeat” forms of yoga with music and exercise, you will fare better teaching at gyms. If you also enjoy teaching to beginners, gyms can provide you with a consistent student base. 

Working at a gym can also allow you to build personal connections with students and get hired for private lessons, which will increase your income. 

The downside of teaching yoga at gyms is that traditional yoga studios have a clientele that has an understanding of the principles of yoga – principles that might be harder to convey to athletes and regular gym members. 

Here are the most significant differences in yoga at yoga studios vs. gyms:

Teacher Qualifications

Yoga studios tend to hire experienced and certified teachers. In many gyms, you’ll find yoga teachers who are at the beginning of their yoga teaching journey. 

Teachers with limited experience can get a job teaching yoga at a gym much more quickly when compared to getting a job at a yoga studio.

You can find good teachers at gyms, but most of them eventually move on to work at a yoga studio or start their own yoga practice. The only exceptions to this are large franchise gyms. 

These gyms tend to have the best equipment, the best teachers, and maintain the highest standards and can retain excellent yoga teachers consistently.

  • Premium gyms will require 500H master certificates before they hire instructors, and they exclusively hire certified teachers. It’s harder to land a job at premium gyms than smaller budget gyms. 

The quality of the gym determines the quality of the teachers. If the gym is a budget gym, they’re naturally trying to cut down on costs, and they can’t afford the best teachers. They also don’t hire teachers on a full-time basis, but instead, pay based on student attendance or pre-schedule one or two classes a week.

Premium gyms only hire instructors who are certified, and they make them plan out daily classes and events. Many of these teachers will also have their own subs (substitute teachers) who teach when they’re not available. 

Getting a job at a premium gym as a yoga teacher is akin to making it at a top yoga studio, and the salaries are equally as good. However, when you’re starting out at a gym, you might be competing with yoga teachers who are not equally qualified.

Teaching Environment

Gym

The environment at a gym is very different from that of a yoga studio.

At a yoga studio, you’ll have a perfectly calm environment where you can meditate, listen to music, and practice yoga in silence. The yoga studio will also be clean and smell nice due to many oils and plants which set the vibe of the yoga studios

Gyms are a completely different beast. The air might not be as pleasant smelling due to many people sweating and working out, and the loud hip-hop/techno music blaring in the background could make it harder to focus. 

Again, there are exceptions such as top gyms that have isolated yoga studios where teachers can teach yoga in silence to their students. Equinox in London is one such great example.

These rooms are typically soundproof or located far enough from the main workout area that they don’t interrupt the class. The teachers can also design the room interiors to make them suitable for advanced yoga practice. 

Yoga studios at gyms resemble typical yoga or dance studios with large mirrors and many yoga mats. If you’re working at such a studio, the gym owners will allow you to create your own environments such as burn the incense you need (for smell), play the music you want, and serve your students’ warm drinks like teas and coffee. 

As long as the members are satisfied with your teaching style, you will be able to create your own little yoga heaven within that gym studio. 

However, in most gyms, you will be given a space that is not ideal for practicing yoga. This space might not have soundproofing, and you might even see gym mats being used instead of yoga mats.

Personal Relationships

There are significant differences in the way people at yoga studios and gyms interact. Yoga studios are a lot more personal in the sense that members are passionate about yoga, and they engage with the teacher on a personal basis over a more extended period. 

The environment tends to be very friendly and high-minded at regular yoga studios. Some yoga studios even encourage personal interaction by making students stop and talk to each other at the end of the class. 

Yoga teachers will typically spend a few minutes after each class engaging with students, and some of these conversations tend to get deep. Personal relationships are formed fast in yoga studios.

Gym-yoga relationships tend to be less personal than those of yoga studios. Gym members might decide to pop in for a class and leave if they’re not interested. 

There is no guarantee they will return, especially if they didn’t enjoy the class. It’s normal for yoga teachers at gyms to have a different group of students every week. 

The atmosphere of the gym tends to be more physical/workout oriented than spiritual, and many students attend only to see if they like yoga or not. 

The situation at premium gyms with dedicated yoga studios is better. They usually have hundreds of members, and many of them have already practiced yoga. If a small portion of the student base has already practiced yoga, the yoga classes become a lot more enjoyable.

Economic Factors

Gyms pay instructors full wages by charging their members’ small fees for yoga classes or bundle yoga classes in the overall membership fee. 

Gyms will offer upgrades that allow members to purchase unlimited yoga classes for a month or a fixed set of classes. Many gyms will also offer private lessons with the instructors. 

Yoga studios charge more for classes than gyms. In some cases, a regular class at a yoga studio could cost 50% more than at a gym for the same class. 

The main reason is that yoga studios tend to have a dedicated yoga environment without any interruptions, and this is more immersive for students. Gyms can also afford to charge less for yoga classes because the members are already paying a monthly fee for access to the facilities.

Likewise, the prices for private lessons with yoga instructors will be higher at yoga studios. If you’re choosing between work at a gym or a yoga studio, your earning opportunities will generally be higher at yoga studios. 

The main difference in terms of pricing is that gyms require monthly commitments to allow members to take yoga classes. Typically this is a purchase of 5-10 classes or a monthly membership fee that grants them the right to unlimited classes. At yoga studios, apart from the above options, members can also pay using a “drop-in” model by the class.

Pro Tip: If you’re starting out and want to gain experience, start at a gym because you’ll be dealing with a tougher crowd, and this will make you more resilient when it’s time to teach at the yoga studio. You’ll find the crowd at yoga studios a lot easier to work with once you’ve sharpened your sword by teaching yoga at gyms.

7 Steps To Start Teaching Yoga At Gyms

Teaching yoga at gyms might be a lucrative career opportunity for beginner yoga teachers who want to gain experience and make their way to the top gyms or yoga studios. Here is a 7 step guide to prepare yourself for teaching yoga classes at gyms:

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #1) Apply For Jobs At Gyms

Start applying for yoga jobs as soon as you get certified. Gyms are not as selective about yoga teachers in terms of required experience as compared to yoga studios. 

Applying for jobs online is the first step. If you want to stand out, you need to visit these gyms personally. If the gym has a yoga center, start by getting a membership and attending the center. 

To land a yoga teaching job at a gym, you have to talk to the senior management staff or other yoga instructors. Start by asking the receptionist who the general manager is. 

If they’re available, ask to meet them right away for a brief conversation. If the gym has a yoga studio, ask to meet the instructor. This way, you can ask whether you can work as a sub (yoga substitute teacher). 

The hiring process at gyms is more straight-forward than yoga studios because gyms aren’t as picky about their instructors. One reason for this is because their income is guaranteed no matter the number of students who show up to your yoga class. 

When you get the job at a gym, you can start by establishing a class schedule and organizing the yoga activities for that gym. Many gyms only have one instructor, and if you get the job, you’ll have to prepare the classes by yourself. 

The teacher has to change the way things get done at the gym by introducing new ideas. Once you get hired, you’ll have to start working on developing a loyal following at the gym. 

NOTE: I have written a detailed guide on getting a job as a yoga instructor. The article will be relevant to you.

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #2) Prepare Beginner Classes For Gym Athletes

Gym athletes, bodybuilders, influencers, and other people who frequent the gym typically are not yoga enthusiasts. 

Yoga teachers have to develop classes for beginners that explain the fundamentals of yoga and break down the core concepts. Recognize that you might be the first yoga instructor they’ve ever experienced, and you will have to showcase the basics to people regularly. 

If you’re working a full-time job at a gym, your job might entail holding 2-3 beginner classes per day. You will rarely start with an intermediate or an advanced group unless you’ve practiced with that group of people over a longer period. In essence, you are the ambassador of yoga for the gym.

You might have to explain basic yoga etiquette, such as making sure you’re timely, not wearing shoes inside the studio, keeping consistent with postures, etc. 

Expect most people to be confused and have to explain the different modes of breathing, how long they should stick with basic postures, how to use the studio equipment [mats, blocks, straps], etc. The idea is to ease new people into the process of practicing yoga.

Your class makes or breaks their first yoga experience. Chances are, they’ll continue practicing yoga if you’ve made a great first impression.

Getting positive feedback at your job might get you a raise, or you might get more funds to expand the studio. The more satisfied students you have, the more you’ll be able to charge for private classes on your own.

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #3) Teach A Yoga Style Relevant For The Gym Environment

Woman in yoga studio

Gyms are always high-energy environments where people push themselves to the brink of their physical abilities. This mentality is infectious, and many people are attracted to this energy once they start seeing results. 

However, this energy can disrupt your yoga teaching experience because you’ll feel tempted to sacrifice the calm and spiritual philosophy of yoga in favor of a more workout/high-energy version of yoga. 

Pro Tip: The best form of yoga to teach at gyms is Ananda Yoga. Ananda Yoga relies on the principle of reaching a higher stage of consciousness with each new asana/position. This type of yoga is a favorite among gym members because they can switch off from the intense physical version of workout and tune into a more subtle form of workout, more akin to meditation.

Ananda Yoga is excellent in the sense that it combines the spiritual, mental, and physical in one. The purpose of Ananda Yoga physical exercises is to hold your postures for longer periods and mentally go deeper. This aspect is a challenge that fitness enthusiasts love, as it combines the exercise with the higher-minded consciousness principles of yoga. 

Savasana is also an excellent way to challenge people at the gym. It is especially true if you have athletes and other very fit students who don’t mind pushing their limits. 

Warning: Be careful performing Savasana, as some might leave your class because of it. Savasana is very challenging due to the number of time students have to hold the positions, especially if they’re in the midst of an energetic gym where everyone is active and loud.

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #4) Prepare For A Unique Teaching Environment

Gyms are hectic places. Students are coming in all the time, and there is a lot of foot traffic and activity. 

To teach yoga at a gym, you have to prepare yourself mentally. You need to stay inwardly focussed and not get distracted by the noise and energy enveloping the facilities. To achieve this, you should start by meditating 10-20 minutes before holding a class. 

You might have to teach your students how to meditate. Start each class by performing 5-10 minute meditation/breathing exercises that will make them focused and receptive to your teachings. They have to feel completely different when they’re taking yoga classes with you than when they’re working out. 

Student Disruptions

Student attendance at the gym will not be consistent. This aspect is entirely different from yoga studios, which all have pre-planned schedules. At the studio, teachers usually arrive 20-30 minutes before class, and all students show up at the same time. 

At the gym, you might be in the middle of a class, and then a few people who got done with their workouts could decide to pop in randomly. 

The students can also leave mid-class to attend other workouts. You have to learn not to take this personally and accept that a gym is a dynamic place. Expect students to arrive late and leave early.

Your teaching style will have to be dynamic too. The hardest part of teaching yoga at gyms is that you’ll get people from all walks of life and experience levels. You’ll deal with advanced people who can’t sit through beginner classes and beginners who don’t know the first thing about yoga. 

You’ll have to learn how to combine both levels by repeating the basics at each class and giving each student individual attention. Ask each student about their experience level and get to know them on a personal basis when they enter your yoga space at the gym.

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #5) Conduct Workshops & Customized Classes

Yoga classes at gyms are mixed and have students of all ages and backgrounds. You might get teens, middle-aged people, or even seniors. The vast majority of your students will consist of gym members who want to try out a new experience and want to take advantage of the free yoga classes that came with their gym membership. 

It’s your job to convince them that yoga is beneficial to them and to practice yoga full-time. Large gyms are distracting because they have different facilities such as playrooms/childcare, locker rooms, lounges, multi-floor exercise room, etc. 

The choices are immense, and you’ll have to put in the effort to keep people at your studio once they show up for class.

The best way to immerse people is to customize your classes to different interest groups. 

Example: You can host a class for bodybuilders/athletes who are at a high level of fitness. You could host classes for teens, teaching them the basics of yoga. You could host classes for seniors over 60+. Once you design individual sessions for them, they might consider giving yoga a try.

During your first month, if you can customize your classes to cater to the demographic of that particular gym, you’ll develop a personal connection with all the regular members, and they will attend your classes. If you get paid by the headcount, this will also increase your income because you’ll get more people coming in total each month.

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #6) Collaborate With Other Gym Professionals

Collaborate

Remember that you are not the only employee at the gym. Many conflicts can arise if you don’t get along with other professionals, such as personal trainers and gym staff. 

People come to the gym with specific goals, such as losing weight, adding muscle, alleviating pain, etc. You not only have to deal with all possible distractions in the gym environment, but you also have to make sure you’re collaborative and remain on excellent terms with employees at the gym.

Pro Tip: Make friends with personal trainers and offer to teach them yoga for free. Consider spending 1 hour with each and explain the basics of yoga in a private class. Doing so will make a good impression on personal trainers, and they will even recommend your services to their students to enhance their fitness levels. 

Consult with the gym owners and aim to create the kind of environment that allows your students to immerse themselves in the teachings of yoga. Think about the decor and lighting and consult with the gym owners to create an ideal yoga environment. 

Teach Yoga At A Gym Step #7) Help Gym Members Achieve Their Goals

Helping students achieve their goals is your ultimate target as a yoga teacher. When you enroll in yoga teacher training or gain employment, your goal should always be to make your student’s lives better. 

Students at the gym have different goals in mind than those at yoga studios. Their primary goal is to improve their physical fitness by losing weight, adding muscle, or becoming more flexible. Many of them don’t consider or align with the spiritual side of yoga.

Learn to balance out their goals with yoga by teaching them the spiritual side of yoga in a meditative environment and give them hard physical exercises such as progressive Ananda Yoga that push their abilities. 

Prepare for the repetitive nature of teaching to beginners. You’ll find yourself answering beginner’s questions over and over because most people take time to understand what yoga is all about. Eventually, you’ll be able to change many lives at the gym, and you will become an integral part of that gym’s culture.


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About the author


Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness and wellness industry.

Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.