August Budget Challenge – Break Even on Side Hustle

group exercise class
Ok, usually with these posts I try to set a goal for the specific month.  But this post is here because I happened to break even in August with my teaching barre side hustle. I finally broke even with my group x (aka group exercise teaching) side hustle!  Here’s how I did it:

What I spent on my side hustle

In high school, I was briefly certified to teach Pilates. I loved it but never found the time to teach, so I let the certification lapse.  I had been thinking about an enjoyable side hustle around the end of last year.  So as a New Year’s Resolution, I signed up for certification as a Group X instructor with AFAA.  I picked them because they seemed to be widely recognized as authoritative and they also had a sale.  But shortly after NYD, my local barre studio offered a barre certification.  It came with free classes at the studio, and potential employment afterwards, so I went for that as well.  So my costs were as follows:
  • AFAA certification: $299
  • Local studio certification: $699
  • CPR Certification (required for AFAA): $93
  • Liability insurance: $144
  • Total: $1235
Not cheap but also not exorbitant

How I broke even

For a while, I was only teaching one class a week. That would have been a long slog to break even and start making money with this side hustle.  But then my studio opened a second location, and I average about three classes a week.  Sometimes I sub and sometimes I need subs so we’ll say it all evens out .  I also saved $52 a month by quitting my Y membership.  I sometimes miss the equipment there. But I get free barre and yoga classes and both locations of my studio, have adjustable weights and a structure for pull ups/dips/etc in my basement. Plus, running is always free :). With these savings, I broke even in August and (besides taxes) am just making money for each class I teach.

Going forward

The key here is to minimize your recurring expenses with these side hustles.  I will need to renew my insurance each year, and AFAA has continuing education requirements.  Since I was trained by my studio, I do not need to keep up the AFAA certification. I do, though, because it allows me to remain flexible if something changes with the studio. It is also cheaper than starting fresh with them if I let it lapse.  PLUS, my studio gives us $100 in continuing education reimbursements so find yourself a studio that gives you value like that


Be realistic and do your research. First, be realistic about how much you can teach.  When I was only teaching once a week, it felt like torture every time I looked at my spreadsheet of my expenditures versus my income.  Second, be realistic about your starting costs.  You’ll need to factor in things like CPR training and liability insurance, which you might not think about.  

Then do your research.  I love my studio and part of the reason is that they 1) they let us encourage (!) to take unlimited classes for free and 2) they give us the $100 in continuing education.  Before you do a training program with a studio, check to see if they have open spots for teachers or if you’re expected to find your own job post-training.  See if there’s a limit on classes you can take.  Check their insurance requirements.  See if they offer CE reimbursement.  If you do an online certification program, check to make sure they’re respected by the fitness community and/or accepted by the kind of place you want to work.  Check what kind of certification you need, whether it’s general group x or a specific type of exercise. Things like Pilates and Zumba are regulated and sometimes you can only be certified by the official organization.  Then look for deals. See if you can find the certification on sale or pick the lowest of the similarly-respected certifications, if possible.

With a little research and a lot of hard work, teaching fitness classes can be a fun, healthy, and profitable side hustle!

See my past budget challenges here: January February March April May June July

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