Need extra cash? Teach celebrity-branded exercise classes

With unemployment still climbing and wages stagnant at best, many Americans are looking for ways to increase their incomes -- often by looking to their hobbies for a source of cash.

Elizabeth Freedman, the author of Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace without Hanging Yourself and an aerobics instructor who teachers programs including Zumba and Body Pump, said in an email that "Brands attract gym-goers. Gyms are always looking for ways to draw in new members, and offering a full schedule of branded, well-recognized classes helps in their effort. As a result, instructors who are able to teach these programs are more likely to find opportunities to teach, and those who aren't certified in one of these areas may find they have significantly fewer places to work."

"In my experience," she added, "I've seen instructors with multiple certifications in these popular, branded programs earn nearly double what other instructors make."

For exercise aficionados, personal training or teaching aerobics classes can be an intriguing option: work out, help people achieve their goals, and get paid. But how can you stand out from the pack of aerobics instructors who've been in the business a lot longer than you? One option may be drawing on the brand of a fitness celebrity -- many of them train and "certify" would-be instructors in their methods, charging a fee for the use of their name, techniques, and trademarks. WalletPop evaluated a few of the options currently on the market:

Billy Blanks' Team Tae Bo: Billy Blanks became a home exercise superstar in the 1990s with his blend of tae kwan do and kick boxing. While Tae Bo's ubiquity has ebbed somewhat, his DVDs are still popular sellers, and his Team Tae Bo program offers the opportunity to become trained and certified.

  • Cost? $498 to become certified; re-certification costs $299 per year.
  • What's involved? A three-day course in Southern California. You will need "9 months of any physical fitness training, a valid CPR card, 2 letters of recommendations, and a personal statement stating your reasons for wanting to become a certified Tae Bo® Fitness instructor."
  • What do you get? "You will receive the right to use the Tae Bo® Fitness trademarks, in stating that you are legally able to teach a basic Tae Bo® Fitness class, access to Team Tae Bo® logos, etc. for advertising, and on-going support from Team Tae Bo® Central to aid in the support of your certification.
Jazzercise: Jazzercise was founded by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969 when the dance instructor decided to ditch the mirrors and offer her students a chance to have fun and get in shape with a jazz-dance-inspired aerobics workout. Videos and classes nationwide quickly followed, and Jazzercise became a household word. Today, Jazzercise has over 6,500 franchisees in the United States alone and is still growing: Entrepreneur ranked the company as the 18th best franchise in America, and the 6th best low-cost franchise.

  • Cost? It's a bit more complicated: There's an initial franchise fee of $1,000 to become an instructor, and then you have to pay 20% of gross revenues back to the company monthly. Music will cost you between $200 and $800 per year, plus another $60 or so in royalties. According to the company, "As a newly franchised instructor, you will teach your first class for an investment as low as $2,980 using public facilities rented by the hour."
  • What's involved? According to the Web site, "A Jazzercise Instructor applicant is trained and must be certified before becoming a franchisee. (Every certified instructor holds a franchise.) The certification program, conducted worldwide through many regularly scheduled two to three-day workshops, is comprehensive and requires substantial advance preparation."
  • What do you get? Similar to the Tae Bo program, you can use the Jazzercise brand in your marketing, which offers a substantial competitive advantage over going it alone.
Zumba: Zumba was founded by celebrity fitness trainer "Beto" Perez in the mid 1990s. Combining Latin dance moves with aerobic exercise, the program has become an international sensation. According to the company, "the Zumba® program is being taught at over 40,000 locations in 75 countries, has sold millions of DVDs, and has changed the lives of Zumba® Fanatics worldwide with an astonishing five million participants taking Zumba classes every week."

  • Cost? The Zumba Basic training class (there are six levels of certification) costs $270, with a discount available for early registration. It's a one-day workshop, and the training is offered all over the country.
  • What's involved? According to the company, "Once you have taken a Zumba Basic or Zumba Gold Instructor Training Workshop, you are allowed to teach Zumba classes, use the "Zumba" name in your class title, and advertise yourself as a Zumba Instructor."
  • What do you get? The $270 certification comes with a bunch of DVDs, a CD, and some other cool stuff. Given the program's runaway popularity and the low cost of entry, it looks like the best deal.

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