Since college I knew I wanted to teach fitness in some capacity. Before graduating college with my BFA in theater I completed Zumba instructor training in hopes of getting a gig as a zumba instructor. That dream was short lived when I realized basically no one was hiring Zumba instructors in NYC in 2012.
My journey to becoming a yoga teacher
My first year out of college I went on to become a NASM certified personal trainer and AFAA certified group fitness instructor. I also auditioned at basically every major fitness studio in NYC. Plus some obscure ones that no longer exist.
I received A LOT of no’s. But I did end up working a few personal training gigs and also taught children’s fitness classes.
Ultimately I gave up. Got recruited to work in marketing by a now major fitness start-up and decided to stick to marketing for a few years. But I still had this massive desire to teach fitness. After losing my job in 2016 I decided to do my yoga teacher training. I’d always really liked yoga even though I found it hard. I also craved a hands-on training experience in a community environment.
After finishing my 200-hour yoga teacher training I started grad school and launched my wellness event company Holistic Happening with my good friend Leslie. Within a month of finishing teacher training I taught my first yoga class to a group of paying customers. We continued to host events — over 50 in all in the course of 2 years — and I continued to hone my voice and confidence as a yoga teacher.
One year after finishing YTT I found out CorePower was hiring for their new Williamsburg studio. I had taken a class in LA once [read the review here!] and thought this is my kind of yoga to teach.
I ended up getting hired as a Yoga Sculpt instructor at CorePower Yoga. At this point I start to teach 4 or so classes a week while I finish grad school. I freaking love teaching. The energy. Being a performer. Getting to change the trajectory of someone’s day.
I decide after finishing up my masters degree in marketing what I actually wanted to do with my life is focus on teaching yoga as my full-time gig. Not exactly the most traditional path post-business school. But then again I’ve never been a traditional kind of gal.
And that’s where I’m at now. It took until the beginning of 2019 though for me to get serious about what this new life needs to look like if I’m going to make this career path a sustainable thing. Both financially and physically. I’m certainly learning as I go!
So, today I wanted to give you a peak into what it *really* looks like to work full-time as a yoga teacher. The good, the bad, and the sometimes really sweaty.
[Side note:] As always I want to be *super* transparent that I’m not consistently making the same salary per week as I did at my previous full-time job. Since I started tracking my income, though, I’ve realized that I’m actually pretty close to hitting that goal thanks to a mixture of teaching and blogging. With some upcoming partnerships that are in the works I’ll be on track to make more in 2019 than at my old job. Hopefully.
Just wanted to be super honest as always 🙂 Teaching only 8-10 classes a week would not be able to pay my bills, especially not living in NYC.
What teaching yoga full-time looks like:
Right now I’m teaching 8 permanent classes at Y7. Every week I aim to pick up at least 2 additional classes. In addition to my 8-10 classes at Y7 I’m teaching 4 or so community classes for my Bar Method instructor training every week.
Prior to leaving CorePower I had 12 permanent classes between Y7 and CPY. This meant I was teaching roughly 16 classes a week when you count my Bar Method commitments. This felt like way too much — especially because the CPY and Y7 classes are heated and I don’t use a microphone.
I’m still figuring out my sweet spot and what that will look like when I’m receiving my full salary as a certified Bar Method instructor. At the very least I know I’ll be teaching 6 Bar Method classes a week.
I know many yoga teachers teach privates. I personally haven’t explored that avenue. I’m not 100% it would be my jam. When I worked as a personal trainer I found 1-on-1 training to be really draining for me. As an introvert it feels like ALL small talk ALL the time. I’m far more dynamic [and ridiculous] in a group setting.
My goal right now is to have teaching be my steady source of income but I also of course still want to focus on blogging, instagram partnerships and freelance writing. At the moment these side hustles are not consistent enough financially for me to rely on them and only a few yoga / barre classes.
What it’s like to teach yoga full-time:
There is SO much I love about what I do. As a yoga teacher I get to:
- share something I love with people.
- encourage people that are intimidated by yoga to try yoga
- change peoples minds about yoga
- do what I love as my job.
- blast Beyonce.
- wear yoga pants all day, every day.
- go make-up free most days
- go on vacation without having to ask someone for permission. Super helpful because I’m traveling a lot in the upcoming months.
- create my own schedule. Sort of. I get a say in what classes I do and don’t want to teach.
Of course it’s not all essential oils and Lululemon. I don’t want y’all to take the following as super negative or me complaining about my current work situation. But it’s also the realities of teaching yoga as your full time gig:
It’s a lot of late nights + early mornings
Most yoga and fitness classes happen during the before and after 9-5 hours. So that’s when I do most of my teaching. Sometimes that means I’m teaching until 9:15PM. And sometimes that means my day starts at 5:00AM so I can make it to the studio to teach at 6:00AM.
All instructors have their own personal preference for whether they prefer to teach in the morning or night. For me even though I’m such a night owl, overall I do prefer to teach in the morning. Otherwise I feel like I’m trying to conserve all my energy throughout the day so I don’t burnout before my evening classes. But maybe that’s just a problem I have…
It’s teaching weekends + holidays
Chances are you won’t have off when other people do. I’m fairly lucky that I only have one weekend class but most of my instructor friends teach a ton of classes over the weekend.
Holidays can be super tricky, especially. I’ve worked at yoga studios for two holiday seasons now and it’s always a total shitshow to get holiday classes covered. I had holiday plans with Jeremy’s family for Christmas eve and had to do some begging get one of my December 24th classes covered. Two years ago I really over did it Christmas week and said yes to subbing way too many classes.
It’s not always having a day off
My ultimate goal with my schedule is to have two days off every week. Right now I only have one, and I do everything in my power to protect my day off every week.
It’s a lot of laundry
So. Much. Laundry. Right now I only teach hot yoga classes which means I’m hanging around in a 90 degree room for up to 3 hours a day. I am such a sweaty human, in a hot room or not. In general I try to be as hygienic as possible. If I have a long break in between classes I’ll change into new clothes.
The laundry situation is UNREAL though. And honestly really really gross. People wonder why I’m so dead set on having a washer/dryer in my next apartment. It’s because I produce so much sweaty laundry every week.
It’s a lot of sitting on my couch
People are always surprised to hear how much TV I watch. It’s A LOT. On days I taught an early morning classes I tend to hit a wall of exhaustion around 2PM. At that point I’ll curl up on the couch and watch the latest episode of my favorite reality TV show. I don’t know how to nap [for realz] but watching mindless TV feels relaxing to me.
It’s a lot of prep work
Right now I’m lucky because I’m only teaching at one studio. All but 1 of my 8 permanent classes are the same style of class. Every week I sit down and make my playlist for the week and my sequence. Sometimes I have to make up to 4 playlists per week though because I teach a lot of theme classes. It’s one of my favorite parts of teaching, but it does take time to sit down and do.
It’s an inconsistent pay check
Some studios pay you a flat rate for each class you teach whereas others pay you per head. Right now most of the classes I teach are pay-per-head. It means I have the potential to make a good chunk of change for every class I teach. But it also really really sucks if you’re teaching a less than stellar time slot. Or when people no-show and you lose out on that money.
It’s freaking out about health insurance
I’m still on my parent’s health insurance. Yup, feel free to judge away. I’m super lucky that I can stay on their plan until I turn 30 [which won’t be until 2020]. At that point I don’t know WTF I’m going to do. I joke with Jeremy that I’m going to force him into a health insurance marriage. Are those a thing?
What a typical day-in-the-life looks like:
Of course there is no such thing as a typical day for me. Every day is a little bit different depending on my teaching schedule. A few weeks ago I started posting my schedules to instagram to give people a peak at what my day looks like. This is when I was still teaching at CorePower as well.
Like I said, every day is a bit different. Some days I feel like I’m working from when I wake up at 5AM until I crash and burn at 10PM. Other days are pretty chill and I get to hang out at home for most of the day after teaching some classes in the morning.
Is this my forever path? If I’m going to be honest probably not. If you know me you know that I like to work on a lot of projects at once. I could never imagine giving up blogging to go full full force in teaching. But I’m also grateful that I don’t need to. What I do know is I love teaching. As a former performer and theater major it gives me that same high that acting once did. I plan to continue to teach in some capacity but would also love to continue to build my brand and this blog I love so freaking much.
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Photo Credit: Andrea Kay Images