We’ve been in their classes, but do you know how your favorite trainers got to teach the classes you’ve come to love? Maybe you’re looking to become an instructor but don’t know what it takes. We sat down with Matt Nolan of Barry’s Bootcamp to get a peek inside the training process for instructors and how he knew that becoming an instructor was the right choice for him.

Q: What did you do before working for Barry’s Bootcamp (BB)?

Matt: Before Barry’s, I was in musical theater performing in a traveling tour of Rock of Ages. I also played Danny Zuko in the Touring production of Grease. I loved the stage, and still love theater, but I was an athlete growing up and thought I could love group fitness as much as I loved the stage – so I ultimately made the switch.

Q: What certifications did you need before becoming an instructor?

Matt: I got my NASM-CPT (National Association of Sports Medicine – Certified Personal Trainer) certification before I even looked to teach at a studio. I knew the right credentials would make me the best candidate for becoming an instructor. I also knew that as I developed a rapport with clients I would want to do some personal training and I was set up for both.

Q: Did you find Barry’s Bootcamp or did they find you?

Matt: I found Barry’s. I was a client first. I think that’s an essentials piece to teaching at a studio. I knew I loved it because it brought me back to feeling like the elite athlete I used to be. I ran track and always played sports and the feeling of being in a class was exactly what I missed. I think starting as a client has made my classes that much better.

Q: What was the training process like?

Matt: After hiring interviews with Joey (Gonzalez) and Robbie, Barry’s trains small groups of instructors together. We had 5 people in my training group. We would have full treadmill days where each of us would get a chance to teach, or floor day where we would run through our own routines, teaching everyone else in our training group. It’s great to learn how to use the clock and get a chance to pick your own music style – but it’s nothing like the real thing. You’re practicing with only 4 people in the room and they are instructors that work out a lot. When you’re with clients of all abilities it’s much different.

Q: How long was training?

Matt: I trained in the Hamptons studios and it took about 6 weeks. However I feel it takes about 5 months to really be good at what you do. You have to earn your stripes and that takes time. Be patient.

Q: What was essential to your training?

Matt: Take class. Take class a lot. You learn a ton from differently types of instructors. It gave me a sense of what it felt like to be a client and what clients were looking for. It helped me create workouts and I always like to give a shout out to instructors that I learn from.

Q: How did you learn to plan routines?

Matt: I learned that I do my best planning 1-2 days at a time. I have to always remember that we have clients that take class once a week and some who take it daily. You have to keep it interesting, but also make sure it hits the basics that everyone is looking for.

Q: What’s in your gym bag?

Matt: My essentials are my laptop and my weekly planner.  I also have an extra pair of socks, shorts and a tank in case I decide to take class (which I like to do 5 days/week). I also have a pack of gum, toothbrush, toothpaste, travel cologne, (I like to smell nice!) headphones, windscreens (mic covers), business cards, seltzer water (I’m a seltzer water fanatic!), and protein bars. Oh and my scooter – I go everywhere on my scooter.

Q: What’s a piece of advice you would give to a new BB Instructor?

Matt: Keep it simple. The class itself is challenging, and the moves don’t have to be overly complicated to be effective. Sometimes a concentration curl for the bicep can be the one move that makes you sore tomorrow.

Q: What are the perks of being a fitness industry insider?

Matt: Taking class is nice – we have some great deals with other studios that allow us to cross train. I also get to be active daily. I don’t have to worry about missing a workout because I’m stuck behind a desk. I also get to travel to places like California or Florida and I can work there too – in fact I just came back from 2 weeks in California where I got to teach at the first Barry’s studio.  Oh, and the occasional freebie like workout gear (thanks Lululemon) or protein bars and fuel doesn’t hurt either!

Want to meet Matt and take one of his killer classes? Catch him at Barry’s Bootcamp here.  Stay tuned for more inside scoop on what it’s like to train at some of your favorite studios!


BurnThis Ambassador Julie Zuckerman Interviews Matt Nolan