A couple of years ago, Jen Walsh of Edgewood, Maryland, didn't seem like a potential yoga instructor. Back spasms were hitting her daily and she couldn't even stand up straight. Tired of getting spinal injections just to function, she decided to explore yoga. Walsh is not the kind of person to do things halfway, so she enrolled in an intensive training course. "I didn't plan to teach when I began my training, but after 200 hours of it, I wanted to put what I'd learned to use," said Walsh.
Walsh now teaches yoga six hours a week at two different studios. "I love helping other people feel good about themselves," she said. "I know it sounds kind of hokey, but yoga has helped me . . . and I like the idea of paying it forward." Helped her, indeed: Walsh says she has needed no medical attention for her back since taking up yoga, and the healthy lifestyle also helped her lose 50 pounds.
Walsh has no plans to give up her day job as owner of Last Straw Media, a strategic communications firm, but yoga has helped with that, too. "I can reduce my stress while working – instead of the other way around," she says. Plus, she teaches other professionals who want to exercise before or after work, so the hours complement her day job. For Walsh, teaching yoga is the perfect side hustle. Could being a fitness instructor be ideal for you, too? Here are 10 reasons it might.
1. You should exercise anyway. We should all exercise, and this is a way to use those same hours to make money.
2. A routine is good for you. You'll be more likely to stick with your exercise routine if people are counting on you.
3. It makes you exercise harder. You'll exercise harder because other people are watching.
4. You'll get paid. Instead of paying to take the class, you'll get paid to teach the class. The median wage for fitness instructors is about $18 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — which means half of them make more than that.
5. You'll save money on your own fitness. You'll probably get free membership to the gyms where you teach. "I can take other classes for free," said Walsh. "Gym and yoga memberships add up!" And as a professional fitness instructor, you'll be eligible for discounts of 15 percent to 40 percent at 18 different athletic apparel brands.
6. The hours can be good. As Walsh discovered, other people want to take exercise classes before or after work, so you can teach them before or after work.
7. There's potential to expand. If you love it, you could sell classes somewhere like a community recreation center and charge by the head to make even more money. Ten people at $10 bucks a class is $100 an hour.
8. It's another line for your résumé. Being a certified instructor in yoga or indoor cycling or Pilates looks cool on your "real" résumé because it shows you have diverse interests and talents.
9. You'll be a better singer. Really! The breath control required to talk to your students while you exercise develops your lung strength.
10. You get to listen to great music. Speaking of music, you'll learn of and listen to great tunes, because many exercise classes these days require a playlist.
Walsh says there are other, less tangible, benefits. In her case, yoga provides a social outlet that her career job does not. "I meet a lot of great people," she said. "I do most of the work for my 'day' job online or virtually, rather than face-to-face."
Walsh also values time away from her devices. "I get to unplug digitally for at least an hour every day," she said. "No emails, texts, phone calls, et cetera, to scramble to answer."
And her final reason: "It enhances your mood! It's hard to be angry or sad when you're teaching yoga."