10 In General/ Health + Wellness

How to Become a Zumba Instructor

How to Become a Zumba Instructor - Edmonton Reiki

This is for YOU my sassy Zumba lovers! You know who you are.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of confusion + mystery around becoming a Zumba instructor, even among fitness professionals. I get asked how to become a Zumba instructor as if it’s this really difficult thing:

“How many courses do you have to take?” (Just one.)

“What are the prerequisites?” (About $300 and 8 hours of your time.)

“Do you have to audition? Take a test?” (NOPE. Nada.)

“Do you have to wear the clothes when you teach?” (HECK NO, we do it PURELY out of CRAZY LOVE!)

If you’ve felt the pull to become a Zumba instructor, I say, GO FOR IT! Zumba certification is easy + accessible to everyone, and I am here to break down the process once and for all.


How to become a Zumba Instructor

Step 1: Register for a Zumba Basic 1 Training online at zumba.com

Step 2: Attend training. Costs about $300 (give or take depending on how early you register) and takes one, full, 8-hour day. Bring a change of clothes.

Step 3: Update your Facebook status to say, “I am now a Zumba instructor! Woohoo!”


…So, that’s it? Well, no. Here’s the thing: once you get your Zumba Basic 1 certificate, you are licensed to teach Zumba for one year. If you want to teach Zumba indefinitely, and take advantage of a plethora of exclusive instructor tools and marketing materials, I highly recommend you join the ZIN: Zumba Instructor Network.

What is the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN)?

The ZIN Program lies at the core of our Zumba classes and is Zumba’s support system for its instructors.

Zumba is a very specialized dance fitness program, and we have very specific rules regarding our music, and our own “Zumba formula” for designing and choreographing classes. While the ZIN program is not required, I believe that it is essential to your success as a Zumba Instructor.

Most importantly, the ZIN Program gives you a license to teach Zumba, meaning that we as instructors are entrepreneurs in our own right, whether we rent a space, are independently contracted out of a gym, or are actually employed by the gym.

The monthly licensing fee is $30 USD/month, and it is 100% WORTH IT. By the way, I am not an affiliate of Zumba! I honestly, from the bottom of my heart, believe in the ZIN Program.

What you get from your licensing fee:

  • Every other month, you get a DVD + matching CD with 2 sets of choreography. Why reinvent the wheel? The quality of the DVDs, the workout, and the dance moves you get are bar none.
  • Every other month between that, you get a CD with Latin/Top 40/World music that’s perfect for your classes. All of the music Zumba sends you is fitness music meaning that the SOCAN fees have been paid, and you can play it at any gym
  • A subscription to Z-Life Magazine
  • A full set of customizable marketing materials, including digital graphics, posters, postcards, punch passes, flyers, and business cards
  • A professional, customizable, website (http://YOURNAME.zumba.com)
  • Instructor discount on Zumbawear and other Zumba merchandise
  • Ability to sell Zumbawear wholesale, adding more potential income
  • Access to specialty Zumba Trainings, such as Zumba Gold, Zumba Kids, Zumba Toning, etc. Specialty trainings are only open to ZIN Members. If you are not a ZIN Member, the only other training you are eligible to take is Zumba Basic 2.

All this, and so much more. For all of the details about the ZIN Program, please click here.

But, it’s expensive!

I know how you feel, and trust me, I know how your husband is making you feel too. It took years for my hubby to get over the fact that I have to pay Zumba licensing fees, and he still brings it up at tax time (they are, of course, totally tax deductible).

However, all you have to do is watch one of those DVDs they send you and you’ll realize that the value of the DVD alone – never mind the matching CD – is worth at least $30. You would most likely spend that much anyway trying to find choreography and music to inspire your classes (and anything you find won’t come close). And you get way, way, more than just choreo + music.

Bottom line: if you’re serious about being a Zumba Instructor, even if you’re just doing it part-time, you have to join the ZIN Program.

How do I get a job as a Zumba Instructor?

Here’s where it gets tricky. 

If you are already a certified group fitness instructor, then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation because you know that all you’d have to do is approach your boss at the gym/facility you teach at and ask them (nicely) if they’ll give you a class. Boom.

Or, you could go the entrepreneurial route and rent a facility, and teach “your own” classes. Bada-boom.

If you are NOT a certified group fitness instructor, you will need to become one because you will be hard pressed to find a gym that will hire you otherwise (or at least one that will let you do more than sub). If you choose to go out on your own, you’ll need insurance, and most companies will not insure you without a group fitness certification anyway.

Plus, if you’re serious about being a fitness instructor, YOU NEED TO GET YOUR GROUP FITNESS CERTIFICATION. A Zumba certification, in the grand scheme of the fitness education world, is a specialty training – a continuing education course.

Kind of like a post-grad course, and we all know you can’t do post-grad without a degree first. Except in the fitness world, you’re allowed to do your “post-grad” before your “degree”, and so a lot of people slip through the cracks.

Myself, I always knew I wanted to be a Zumba Instructor, but I chose to get my group fitness certification first. I was initially certified as a Group Fitness Leader with a specialization in Choreography by the YMCA, and then later got my certification accredited through canfitpro, and they translated my YMCA certification into their Fitness Instructor Specialist (FIS) certification.

However you want to do it, just do it. If you’re an Alberta resident, you have 3 choices:

One is not better than the other; they each have varying prices and time commitments. Do the one that works for you.


CPR + AED Certification

Oh, and you are going to need your CPR + AED Certification. No exceptions at any time, anywhere.

Level A (adults only) works if you’re only teaching adults; if you plan on teaching Zumba Kids, you’ll need Level C (adults + children). The Health Care Providers (HCP) Level is nice if you’re also health care pro. Otherwise, HCP might be a waste of your time, because you’re going to practicing scenarios based on medical environments with medical tools that you as an instructor will never see (and aren’t qualified to use anyway).

First Aid is good to have, but not required.

What is my entire investment?

This is a ROUGH estimate, but between your Zumba Basic 1, group fitness certification, and CPR/AED, you’re looking at about $1000 give or take. Bearing in mind that this is an expense that’s broken up into chunks and can be paid over time, depending on how long you plan to take to go through the process.

Do I need to complete an apprenticeship?

No. But, it’s not a bad idea, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience teaching classes/dancing/performing. There are many instructors out there who are happy to mentor new trainees, including myself! Mentoring new Zumba instructors has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I am always happy to support newbies.

If you’re a World Health, Spa Lady, or YMCA member/instructor and would like to apprentice with me, drop me a line and we’ll talk!

Personally, I never did a Zumba apprenticeship because: 1) I already had a lot of experience teaching fitness classes (and I completed an apprenticeship as part of my group fitness certification), 2) I have a strong dance background, and 3) I’m comfortable on stage 🙂

Do I need to wear the clothes? And cut them up?

No. You can wear absolutely anything you want.

If you think you’re too cool for the crazy Zumba clothes – you’re not. Just wait. I used to think that Zumbawear was ridiculous and I would never go to the grocery store in them. Now I proudly pick my son up from school with my brightly coloured, tasselled pants.

And, that’s it!

As I write this, I realize that becoming a Zumba Instructor isn’t as un-complicated as I thought. Or rather, becoming certified to teach Zumba is easy, but getting a gig requires a lot more work.

If you’re thinking that it seems awfully easy for just anyone off the street to become certified to teach Zumba – you’re absolutely right! The trainings are always packed, and you may find yourself wondering how on earth you’ll succeed with so much competition in the room, especially since the city (nay, the planet) is already bursting with Zumba instructors and Zumba classes.

Don’t worry about the others – if you know in your heart of hearts that this is what you’re meant to be doing, then just do it.

You just never know until you try! Remember, not everyone who takes a training does it with the intention to teach, and even those that intend to teach do not always continue. In all of my years taking numerous instructor trainings, I’d say that in any given course, only 10% end up teaching that particular stream, and even fewer continue to do so long-term.

For example, I’m certified to teach many different classes, but I currently only teach Zumba and Yoga. Did I plan on teaching the other fitness streams? Yes! Was I proficient in them? Absolutely! But at the end of the day, I only have so many hours (and money allocated for licensing fees!) and I chose to concentrate on Zumba and Yoga.

If you have any questions or anything that you wish to add to this post, please share in the comments below! You’re also welcome to write me anytime at timmie [at] sassywellness [dot] ca.

I hope this was helpful + that I’ve inspired you to go for it!

Zumba Love,

Timmie Wanechko

P. S. To view my Zumba website, click here! (mwanechko.zumba.com)

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  • Reply
    March 10, 2016 at 3:44 PM

    Hi Timmie,
    I found your blog a long time ago when I first decided to become a zombi instructor and now I’m reading through your very informative post again because I am looking to further my zumba career 🙂
    I’m close to getting canfitpro FIS certified (just need to finish my practical :)). My question pertains to fining jobs at the big gyms. I presently teach at a community centre and would like to add classes to my schedule and am hoping to get into World Health, Goodlife or Spa etc. Do you have any advice on how to find zumba instructor positions there?

    • Reply
      March 10, 2016 at 3:50 PM

      Hi Kavita, I’m just sending you an email 🙂

  • Reply
    March 10, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    ** Zumba instructor.. Silly auto-correct changed it to zombi.. sorry!

  • Reply
    August 20, 2016 at 4:44 PM

    Thank you! I have been thinking about becoming a zumba instructor for a while now and I was unsure about needing the group fitness instructor certification as well. Every where I looked I always got an iffy answer “depending on state or gym requirements”. It’s good to know more about what it will actually take to get an actual job as an instructor. I was feeling a bit lost an now I feel like I have a better direction and some new goals! Thanks a bunch!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2016 at 8:20 AM

    Hello, I was wondering do I have to play the music and do the routines that’s sent to me? I like different types of upbeat music, I also like twerking and hip moving. So can I do my own thing or its what they require you to do?

  • Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    Hey Timmie,
    Very informative info. However, I believe when you get finished your Zumba training you are licensed, NOT certified. Only once you train and take exams (and pass with AFLCA, YMCA, other Provinicial or National associations) can you say that you are a Certified. Of course, Certified Group Fit Instructor and a licensed Zumba instructor. I have my AFLCA cert, but hold my BellyFit license. I think that is the correct terms! LOL

  • Reply
    March 3, 2017 at 4:35 PM

    I want to get the instructor license and and training. How can I start?

  • Reply
    Irene Sophie
    December 4, 2017 at 12:55 AM

    you are an amazing blogger and would love to keep in contact you for further question. I am from Cleveland Ohio and I’m super excited about my Zumba career!!!

  • Reply
    Gabriela Pizzaia
    December 22, 2017 at 1:50 PM

    Do you know if I get Zumba basic 1 in Brazil, I can use this in Canada?

    • Reply
      January 1, 2018 at 11:27 PM

      Hi Gabriela, I believe that the certifications are international, so yes you shouldn’t have a problem using it here in Canada.

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