Being a professional fitness instructor may not always pay exceptionally well, but there are perks that come with the territory such as gym memberships. There is one perk, however, that far exceeds any others. The most amazing perk I have come across is the chance to teach fitness classes abroad in exchange for an all-inclusive stay at a resort with a guest.
In 1999 I was reading job postings in the back of an industry journal, and I saw an ad for teaching vacations in Jamaica. I followed up on it and found out that for a few hundred dollars and an airplane ticket, I could stay on a resort with my spouse and all I had to do was teach two or three classes per day. I was ecstatic to find such an opportunity, especially when I looked into how much it could actually cost as regular paying guests.
All-inclusive resorts can run anywhere from $200 to $500 per person per day depending on the resort, time of year and the room that is booked. All inclusive means room/board, alcohol, entertainment, fitness classes and often sports like water skiing. What this results in is a vacation that’s worth $2,800 to $7,000 per week for two people. Spa services, scuba diving, golf and activities away from the resort will cost extra, but since there is so much to do that is included, you can literally spend very little money once you’re at the resort and you don’t have to think about keeping cash with you.
I booked my first trip for January 1, 2000. Yes, my husband and I flew in an airplane on Y2K and it didn’t drop out of the sky as was predicted, but it did drop us onto the island of Jamaica to have an incredible two-week adventure. That was the first of many trips in the last 11 years and I recently returned from trip number eight. I wanted to tell you about this great opportunity so that some of you in the Spinning® community might take advantage of this service, too.
There are two agencies that send fitness instructors and personal trainers to resorts. Fitness Pros, owned by Suzelle Snowden, has placement both in the Caribbean as well as Mexico. They categorize instructors by their specialties: step, kickboxing, Zumba®, Spinning, yoga/Pilates, aquatic, personal trainer, or tennis pro. They have an extensive Web site which explains their programs and one must create an account prior to being able to search on their website. Though the basic account is free, one may upgrade to receive more features and benefits. If you are interested in teaching Spinning classes, there are four resorts in Jamaica that offer indoor cycling, so you can do a search for those and see when they are available. If you can teach other modalities, then it is really wide open for you. Once you book a trip, you will be assigned a go-to person and there are webinars to watch that answer all the possible questions that can arise when traveling out of the country and bartering for a vacation. For more information about traveling with this company, visit http://fitnessprotravel.com/.
The other option for traveling specifically to Jamaica is a smaller company called Creative Fitness Consulting owned by Rosa Young, a Jamaican business woman. She has a fewer number of resorts, and none with Spinning classes, but she does have signature programs like Yardi Fitness where classes are held outdoors. She offers special rates for your clients who might travel to a resort to take your classes. Instructors who are also continuing education providers are needed for CEC weeks to offer workshops. Instructors can even schedule retreats for people who are looking for a fitness vacation. There are a wide variety of options through Ms. Young, and you can find more information at www.cfcjamaica.com.
The experiences I have had traveling abroad to teach fitness have been far and wide. For the most part, I have enjoyed it immensely; otherwise I would not have repeated it so many times. I can say that it always pays to be as prepared as possible. There have been times when I thought I was going to be teaching yoga and I was asked upon arrival if I would instead teach aqua and power walking because the regular instructor was on vacation that week. I have never taught classes that I was not trained to teach, but sometimes change occurs at the last minute and it is best just to smile and say “no problem, mon!” Some universal rules that work anywhere are to be polite, be friendly and show appreciation when others help you. If anyone has questions about traveling abroad to teach, please don’t hesitate to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy travels!