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Become a Group Fitness Instructor

How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor

By the end of this article, you’ll never have to ask how to become a group fitness instructor again! With our comprehensive guide, you’ll know everything you need to know about this exciting career path within a booming industry.

To help get you started with this exciting career move, this article will cover:

If you’d like to launch your career as a qualified personal trainer, why not start with our Level 3 Personal Trainer course? Earning this qualification is the perfect way to begin a successful and rewarding career in the health and fitness industry!

To find out more about the range of courses we have to offer, download our FREE digital prospectus here.

What is a Group Fitness Instructor?

What is a group fitness instructor

Since you’ve found this article, it’s likely you’ve been asking ‘how do I become a group fitness instructor?’ Well, let’s answer that question for you. While a Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification is required for both roles, a group fitness instructor differs slightly from a fitness instructor.

Various jobs of a fitness instructor include carrying out gym inductions for new members, demonstrating how to use machines and perform exercises, and being present on the gym floor to provide general fitness advice. 

So, when people ask ‘what does a group fitness instructor do?’ the answer is the same as that of a fitness instructor. However, group fitness instructors also have the responsibility of leading group classes such as yoga, indoor cycling, and circuit training.

Whether you call them group fitness instructors, gym class instructors, or fitness class teachers - these terms can be used interchangeably.

Roles of a Group Fitness Instructor

Certified group fitness instructor

The role of a group fitness instructor is usually filled by individuals who are at the beginning of their fitness careers and have just started out in the industry. 

The reason for this is because fitness instructor qualifications are usually the earliest type of qualification you can receive. For example, here at OriGym our Level 2 Fitness Instructor Course can be studied by anyone over the age of sixteen.

To enrol on further courses such as a Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification or specialist Level 4 Personal Trainer courses, it all must start with the foundation of a Level 2 qualification. This essentially acts as the basis of your career so you can become more qualified and specialise in specific areas.

The most basic answer to ‘what does a gym class instructor do?’ is that they act as a fitness teacher by conducting fitness classes for both large and small groups of people. 

They are usually employed by a gym or other kind of fitness facility and are certified to give advice or assistance to gym-goers.

We hope this has provided you with a basic understanding of what exactly a group fitness instructor is. However, if you’re still not entirely certain whether this is for you, keep reading to have all your questions answered!

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Group Fitness Instructor?

Become a group fitness instructor image

You’ll be pleased to know that the journey to becoming a group fitness instructor isn’t a complicated one! As mentioned above, all it takes is one professional qualification, such as OriGym’s CIMSPA accredited Level 2 Gym Instructor certificate.

CIMSPA stands for the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. It is the professional development body for the UK's sport and physical activity sector. 

Completing a qualification that’s accredited by CIMSPA is a great way to demonstrate to any potential employer that you’re serious about a career in the fitness industry, and that you’ve sought out a qualification that brings you up to an industry-recognised level.

What does a group fitness instructor do

Ofqual is the official regulatory body for qualifications in the UK. All qualifications, whether fitness-related or otherwise, must be regulated by Ofqual. Without that formal regulation, you won’t be able to get a job or the relevant insurance to be able to work as a group fitness instructor.

Fortunately, all of our tuition has full CIMSPA accreditation and Ofqual regulation, so you can be assured you'll be receiving the most-trusted support, training, and advice. If you’re wondering how to become a certified group fitness instructor, it couldn't be simpler.

There are two requirements to gain access to OriGym’s Level 2 Fitness Instructor Course. The first is that any potential students have to be over the age of 16, and the second is they must have a passion for health and fitness! No additional qualifications or certifications are needed for you to apply.

The course is designed to equip you with the basic knowledge and necessary skills required to jump-start a rewarding and lucrative career in as little as two weeks! 

Even better, this can be completed in whatever way suits you best - full time, part time, or online. Let's examine those routes in more detail.

Full Time

Become a group fitness instructor

If you’re hoping to quickly gain your qualification, our ‘fast track’ full-time option might be the best way for you to become a qualified personal trainer. These intensive classes last for 2 weeks and are held at OriGym’s private centers, Monday to Friday from 9am - 5:30pm. 

You will be taught by our expert in classes of no more than 12 students for a more intimate learning experience. Study is both practical and theory, as you will be on the gym floor everyday as well as learning in our custom built classrooms.

With this method, and all methods of study with OriGym, you’ll also be given access to our state-of-the-art online learning platform, with a library of online resources, guides, and tips and tricks to succeed in the fitness industry.

To qualify as a Level 2 Gym Instructor, full-time students are also expected to complete three assessments:

  • Multiple choice exam on anatomy and physiology - 70% pass required.
  • Multiple choice paper on principles of exercise and health - 70% pass required.
  • Practical Assessment on delivering a gym-based induction - pass required. 

If time is tight, though, and you find working at your own pace suits you best, our option to study courses using our online learning platform may be your preferred method. 

Blended & Online Learning

become a certified fitness instructor

Using a range of online learning resources, you’ll be supported by our expert fitness instructors who are qualified personal trainers themselves. There is only one practical assessment that requires in-person attendance.

As there is practical study with the option to revise and learn at your own pace, many students prefer this method as it easily fits around their work and family commitments. The content of our course covers everything from anatomy to physiology, giving you the fundamental knowledge needed to support clients. 

Online and part time study typically takes 6-8 weeks on average to complete. 

To successfully achieve your qualification, all students are required to undertake a series of different assessments. Depending on your preferred method of study, this will consist of a practical assessment for all students, an online exam, and an online paper.

It should be mentioned here that to complete the in-person practical assessment, students must travel to one of OriGym’s twelve nationwide venues, where these assessments are run every month.

How do you become a group fitness instructor

Students who choose to study the Level 2 Fitness Instructor Course online or part-time are required to complete the following assessments:

  • Multiple choice Open book online exam on anatomy and physiology - 70% pass required.
  • Multiple choice Open book online paper on principles of exercise and health - 70% pass required.
  • Practical Assessment on delivering a gym-based induction - Pass required.

If this sounds overwhelming, there’s no need to be worried. You’ll be supported by OriGym’s tutors throughout the entirety of your studies, giving you a greater chance of succeeding in your course and passing first time!

Comparing Course Providers

However, while we are the industry leaders when it comes to fitness instructor and personal training qualifications, we’re not the only option on the market. 

Regardless of who you opt for, we’ve put together a checklist of what you should look for.

  • Pre and Post Course Support - How do they support their learners? For instance, if you have an issue joining the course, is there someone you can speak to so you can get started straight away? Post course support can also be incredibly important, especially as you'll be looking to get employed immediately.
  • Flexible Payment Plans - Double check for any interest rates or APR. These can be as high as 30%, and are added on top of your total overall bill. This is often in the terms and conditions section of any package you opt for, so ensure you read these thoroughly.
  • Any Administrative Costs - Some companies hide their additional fees, including admin fees, processing costs, and certification costs. This is often to offset the company's employment costs, and isn't always included in the price you're quoted, so make sure you check for any admin charges before you commit to a provider.
  • Examination Costs - Certain providers can charge you for exams, and some will charge you extra if you need to resit. This can be a deciding factor if you're worried about the assessments you need to complete, so we'd advise checking the reviews and course information thoroughly.
  • Online Learning Platform - Most providers will offer some form of online learning and resources, but with some these can be limited, or lack the depth that you'd get from in-person teaching. Before deciding on a provider, ask about what they offer in terms of virtual or online learning.
  • Response Times - The last thing you need when learning is to be waiting days for a response to a burning question. Here, we'd advise checking reviews on sites like Trustpilot to see what others are saying, and ensure you're getting exactly what you need. 
  • Study Methods On Offer - Make sure that the study method you've chosen is available through that provider. Some only offer full-time learning, and others don't offer this option at all, so triple check before committing to a study method. 

Finding a provider that meets your needs, and offers a package that’s both affordable and thorough, is crucial to succeeding as a group fitness instructor.

Group Fitness CPD

Certified group fitness instructor

Once you’ve successfully completed your studies and gained your Level 2 fitness instructor qualification, you can continue your journey to becoming a group fitness instructor. 

The next step is to take our CIMSPA accredited CPD Fitness Course in Group Exercise Training. This will help you gain the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct classes and teach multiple clients at the same time.

Fortunately, gaining these additional qualifications is not a lengthy process. This CPD course can be completed in a single day, providing you with the fundamental knowledge required to instruct group exercise classes.

Students studying this short course will be assessed through an observation on the day of attendance. The main purpose of this is to assess your competence and skills, which will be observed by a qualified teacher and assessor who will lead your training.

Upon successful completion of this CPD fitness course, you will be a certified group fitness instructor. This qualification allows you to teach different workout classes, letting you help more gym-goers achieve their fitness goals than you would during one-on-one sessions.

Do Group Fitness Instructors Need Insurance?

How to become a certified group fitness instructor

You may be asking ‘what does a group fitness instructor do about insurance?’ Well, one of the most important things you need to do as a group trainer is ensure your clients are safe at all times during workouts. 

With any type of exercise, injuries are likely to happen, especially during intense classes you may be teaching.

It’s a good idea to purchase insurance even if you are employed by a fitness center or gym. This means you are covered if a client injures themselves and your employer either can’t support you or chooses not to.

We strongly advise anyone in the fitness industry to invest in insurance, not just group fitness instructors. While serious injuries aren’t common, they can still happen, so it’s always best to do this. If anything, it will give you peace of mind if an unfortunate situation does arise.

Depending on the type of insurance you go for, some things it can protect you from are:

  • Claims of professional negligence.
  • Damage or loss of gym equipment.
  • Claims of harassment.
  • Injury/illness to you and against clients.

As a fitness class instructor, the main insurance policy you should take out is public liability insurance. This protects you against having to pay to replace damaged or lost equipment that you are responsible for. This is very important if you work as a freelancer and hold classes in a gym or other independent fitness facility. 

How to become a group fitness instructor

It’s also something to consider even if you’re employed by a venue, just for added protection. The reason for this is because it will help you with accusations of injury from other members and cover the costs of legal disputes if a client makes a claim that you or your advice has resulted in them getting injured.

If you’d like to find out more about insurance, take a look at OriGym’s informative article on the different types of personal trainer insurance to find the right one for you.

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s three more you’ll find beneficial: 

How Much Does a Group Fitness Instructor Earn in the UK?

Certified group fitness instructor image

Now that we’ve covered the necessary requirements, both in terms of qualifications and personal qualities, it’s time to quickly mention how much a group fitness instructor can potentially earn in the UK.

According to Glassdoor, the average yearly salary for a group fitness instructor in the UK is £23,559. While this may sound great, this average is based on working a 40 hour week which is unlikely if you solely become a group fitness instructor. 

What is a group fitness instructor

However, by successfully completing a Personal Trainer Diploma, you can become a qualified full-time personal trainer. You will find more stability doing this as the hours of a gym class instructor are more scattered than those of a normal 9 to 5.

It’s also more lucrative than working solely as a group fitness instructor. According to TotalJobs, the average salary of a personal trainer in the UK is £27,000. This is why becoming a personal trainer is the most popular career path because there is more money to be made if you’re more qualified.

Certified group fitness instructor

Gaining a Level 3 qualification means you can progress onto specialised Level 4 courses and expand your knowledge in many areas of health and fitness! You may decide to run weekly circuit classes or boot camps for some extra income, while also increasing your own skills and experience.

Who knows, maybe one day you may open your own gym? Earning extra qualifications means more doors will open and more doors, means more opportunities!

If you’re wondering how to become a group fitness class instructor but are struggling with marketing yourself, increase your employability prospects by taking a look at our ultimate guide on how to write a personal trainer CV!

Opportunities for Progression as a Group Fitness Instructor

Certified group fitness instructor

Now that we’ve covered ‘how to become a certified group fitness instructor?’, you’ll probably want to know what direction your career could take. 

One thing worth clarifying is that while the health and fitness industry is growing, positions are still very competitive. It’s important to make yourself stand out from the competition by continuing to challenge yourself and earn more qualifications.

Level 3 Personal Trainer 

How to become a group fitness instructor

Most Level 2 fitness instructors go on to become certified in personal training. 

Getting qualified up to this level allows them to work with clients on a one-to-one basis (view our personal trainer job description to learn more), but also provides them with the knowledge and expertise required to start their own group exercise business. 

Since the salary of a Level 2 fitness instructor is significantly lower than that of a Level 3 fitness professional, it’s easy to see why many make starting their own profitable group exercise business their long-term goal as opposed to running classes in a gym. 

Not only will you be able to earn more through charging clients individually as opposed to relying on gyms to pay you a set hourly wage, but you will be able to target your services at a certain client demographic.    

What is a group fitness instructor

This can significantly increase your earning potential, as you can put all your efforts into advertising your services to said clients, and become the go-to instructor in your local area for what you’re offering. 

Aside from increasing your salary tenfold, starting your own group exercise business can also be a much more rewarding career path than running classes in a gym. Choosing the clients that you want to work with will make you feel more in control of your career, and ultimately more passionate about it. 

Want to learn more? Check out our guide on starting a fitness boot camp business here

For those not yet qualified in Level 2, the most popular route is to complete a Level 3 Personal Training Diploma

This combines the Level 2 Gym Instructing Course and the Level 3 Personal Training Course, giving you the opportunity to jump straight into becoming a qualified personal trainer. It also saves you money in the long run, as you won’t have to pay separately for these qualifications. 

Nutrition Coach 

What is a group fitness instructor

If you want to take your role as a group exercise instructor further, a Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course could be the ideal choice. 

You’ll be able to advertise yourself as a qualified nutrition advisor, and subsequently appeal to a huge range of clients looking for guidance in this area. 

Clients looking to get in shape will often require help with their nutrition alongside their exercise programme, and that’s why getting qualified as a sports nutritionist is a natural route for progression. 

Since many of your competitors won’t have this under their belt, it’s a great opportunity to gain an advantage over them. After all, clients are more likely to trust and buy from instructors who have additional expertise, and are therefore able to provide them with a better service. 

OriGym’s course can be completed 100% online and has no entry requirements. It’s also regulated by Ofqual and endorsed by CIMSPA, so you can rest assured that you’re receiving a qualification that meets industry standards. 

We’d definitely recommend steering clear of free nutrition courses

Sports Massage Therapist 

Become a group fitness instructor

Another popular route is to get qualified in Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy

This teaches you everything you need to know about decreasing muscle soreness, and aiding injury management and rehabilitation.

Studied via a blended learning method of compulsory weekend workshops and online learning, in as little as 8 weeks, you’ll be a qualified sports massage therapist, able to work your own hours as a freelancer or in paid roles.

This can be used to your advantage because if you’re running a group exercise business, and one of your clients becomes injured outside of a session, you can refer them between your services. You can let them know you offer a sports massage to help get them back on their feet.

This can also be further used to your advantage as if you have sports massage clients, you can mention you are qualified in fitness instructing and will be able to train them once they’re better.

Fitness CPD Courses 

Becoming a group fitness instructor

Further development courses such as Continuous Professional Development Courses (CPD) are a great way to develop your existing skills and provide you with extra expertise. Having more knowledge in different areas of fitness will also bolster your CV, increasing employability prospects.

Examples of CPD courses are:

Finding your niche in a competitive industry is a great idea if you’re trying to stand out and make yourself more desirable to employers.

Skills Needed to be a Group Fitness Instructor

Become a group fitness instructor

The Level 2 Fitness Instructor Qualification is certainly achievable if you are serious about getting your head down and studying. 

However, the answer to ‘how do you become a group fitness instructor’ isn’t just about what qualifications you need. It’s also a career that relies heavily on character and personality.

There are certain desirable skills and attributes that are important for making you the best group fitness instructor you can be. However, while there is a certain stereotype around group trainers, it’s not true that you have to be strong and muscular to be one.

In this job, personality is more important than appearance if you want to be successful. Passion, determination, and drive are much more vital than aesthetics to become a group fitness instructor.

If you’re wanting to become a certified group fitness instructor, other skills and qualities include:

#1 - Confidence

Becoming a group fitness instructor

If you’re asking ‘what makes a good group fitness instructor?’ then the first answer to this question is confidence! This job focuses heavily on working with other people and conducting lively classes to keep groups engaged.

Whether you’re conducting a relaxing yoga session or an active indoor cycling class, confidence is key! Now, this isn’t to say you have to be an arrogant or overbearing person - in fact, this is the complete opposite of what a personal trainer should be. 

However, a level of confidence is necessary if you want to become a group fitness instructor.

The reason this is vital is because it makes attendees  have confidence in you as their fitness class teacher. This means they’re more likely to trust you and will be satisfied knowing the workout they’re receiving is from someone who knows what they’re doing.

#2 - Communication

What is a group fitness instructor 1

Excellent communication skills are a necessary quality in most jobs, but even more so for those in the health and fitness industry. Communicating with clients and colleagues alike is an important part of your daily responsibilities.

To become a group fitness instructor, you must be able to communicate clearly with clients when conducting large classes. Clarity is also vital during classes as you need to make sure everyone is performing the same exercises and understands what they’re doing. 

As clear instructions are necessary, it’s important to enunciate and project your voice. You may find a microphone is beneficial to ensure your clients can hear exactly what you’re saying. 

However, contrary to belief, communication isn’t just simply about talking to people. It’s about understanding their needs, showing compassion, solving problems, and doing all this in a way that is warm and tactful. 

This is necessary as different people respond to varying types of communication. What works for one person may not work for another so it’s important to understand this and know the correct way to approach situations.

#3 - Motivated

How to become a group fitness class instructor

To become a great group fitness instructor, you will need to be both self-motivated and an excellent motivator.

Staying positive and energetic during classes - even on days you’re feeling less than your best - is vital for success. If you want clients to achieve their fitness goals, you must lead by example! If your workout is dull and lacklustre, you’ll likely find your class won’t push themselves as hard as they could.

We all have down days and there’s nothing wrong if you do too. The key is being able to motivate yourself in front of a group by providing fitness motivation tips to energise them so they too can achieve success.

Their attitude towards exercise will become more positive if you are seen as someone passionate and energised.

As you are the leader of the class, you’ll be surprised how much your mood impacts the room. Your self-motivation, along with energy and passion, will inspire others to share your love of fitness!

#4 - Cordial

What does a group fitness class instructor do

As mentioned previously, the answer to ‘how to become a group fitness instructor’ is not about spending hours in the gym everyday to achieve the perfect physique.

In fact, people who don’t regularly attend gyms or are complete beginners may find extremely muscular gym class instructors intimidating.

Being warm and friendly isn’t just important for becoming a group fitness instructor, but in everyday life too. You need a good rapport with clients to keep them motivated and constantly pushing themselves towards their goals.

One thing you don’t want to do when conducting a class is be arrogant or condescending to people, especially those who are struggling or if they’re just starting out.

What does a group fitness instructor do

This will make them less likely to return and could damage your reputation as a group fitness instructor.

You want your classes and workouts to be enjoyable. This will increase your clientele and may bring more people to you through word of mouth if you are known for providing a positive experience. 

It’s also important clients feel they can approach you for advice or if they have any problems or questions. 

The last thing you want if you become a group fitness instructor is to have people be overwhelmed or too worried to attend classes or continue with them as they find you intimidating.

#5 - Organised

How to become a group fitness class instructor

If you want to find success by becoming a group fitness instructor then organisation is crucial. 

Preparation and punctuality are two skills you must possess if you want to make it in the fitness industry. It’s important to know when exactly you’ll be working as it’s unlikely it will be normal 9 to 5 hours.

As many people who attend gym classes usually fit workouts around their weekly work schedules, it’s likely you’ll work these hours. This includes early mornings, weekday evenings, and all day on weekends.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while work rotas differ between gyms, it’s likely shift patterns will vary from week to week. For this reason, it’s important to keep your schedule flexible and know when you are expected to work. 

Organisation is vital when working untraditional hours as a fitness class instructor as you must plan different classes and know which clients you’ll be working with on which days.

#6 - Patient

Becoming a group fitness class instructor

One thing every fitness instructor needs is patience! It’s important to understand that everybody progresses differently and not everyone is going to meet their goals at the same time, certainly not in a large group fitness class.

While encouragement and motivation are important, you must also know when to give more time and care to certain clients, especially if they’re beginners. 

Becoming noticeably frustrated or angry with members isn’t going to make them want to come back. Nobody wants to attend a class where they don’t feel comfortable. 

A good gym class instructor is one who provides equal attention to everyone and helps them progress further without being overbearing or intimidating. Something to remember is that not everyone will be able to match your energy levels and passion!

Benefits of Being a Group Fitness Instructor

There are many benefits to becoming a group fitness instructor that go beyond more than financial gain. A career in this industry is more than ‘just a job’, especially if you have a passion for health and fitness.

Other benefits of this exciting career are:

#1 - Job Satisfaction

Becoming a group fitness class instructor

What can be better than sharing your passion for health and fitness with others, both experienced colleagues and complete beginners? Becoming a group fitness instructor allows you to share your love of exercise while helping people achieve their own goals.

Helping people better themselves and seeing this improvement after each session will provide you with a satisfaction that only comes from this kind of career. You will have fulfillment from your work, knowing you are making a difference in other people’s lives.

#2 - Improves Physical and Mental Health

Certified group fitness instructor

An active career that has you on your feet all day probably doesn’t suit everybody but for those it does, the physical and mental benefits of exercise are endless! 

Naturally, you will improve physically as workouts will become part of your everyday routine. This means you won’t have to think much about fitting it into your daily life and as it’s your job, it will be easier to motivate yourself.

Furthermore, there has been research on the effects of mental health and exercise. 

According to a study by Ashish Sharma et al., aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. 

By exercising most days, you will be benefiting both your physical and mental health as the two things are linked. As mentioned above, knowing you are helping others improve their own mental and physical health will boost your mood as you are making a difference.

#3 - Flexible

What does a group fitness instructor do

While a stable work schedule is preferred by many people such as office workers, it’s unlikely that as a group fitness instructor you’ll have a set work routine. 

As mentioned above, most people attend classes at gym facilities around their usual working hours such as early in the morning or during evenings.

However, you may find flexible hours are right for you! This keeps your weeks exciting as your shifts don’t always follow the same pattern. 

Flexibility largely depends on your employer but if you choose to be a freelance fitness instructor, you can pick and choose your working hours and the days that suit you.

#4 - Growing Industry

How do you become a group fitness instructor

The world of health and fitness has seen an increase in popularity over the past decade and it is only continuing to grow. This is exciting for anyone hoping to enter the industry and have a successful career. 

An increase in popularity is beneficial as it means more people will be looking to become fit and healthy. This results in more clients which is great if you’re looking to expand your group fitness classes!

A growing industry in a competitive field increases your career prospects and opportunities for employment. This means it’s more likely you’ll find stable work as there will be a demand for it.

For more information on progression, take a look at OriGym’s guide on professional development in the health and fitness industry.

#5 - Social Element

What does a group fitness instructor do

A perk of becoming a group fitness instructor is the social aspect of your work. While you won’t be spending the day sitting down having conversations with your class, being around others is great for boosting your mood and keeping your mental health in check.

According to this article by the New York Times, a group of Texas researchers discussed how emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster ‘a sense of meaning and purpose in life’. 

Interaction is crucial for keeping you positive which is necessary for maintaining motivation and productivity for classes. Being around people and interacting with them through teaching is a great way to feel involved, especially by doing something you love and sharing this with them.

Before You Go!

Now that you know everything you need to do to become a group fitness instructor, what are you waiting for? If you have the passion and determination to make it in the fitness industry, this highly rewarding career could be yours!

If you’re ready to kickstart your exciting new career, you can do this by enquiring about our Level 2 Gym Instructor Course.

Otherwise, have a look at our FREE downloadable prospectus to see the range of courses we have on offer here at OriGym.

References:

Sharma, Ashish et al., ‘Exercise for Mental Health’ in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (2006, Vol. 8, Issue 2), 106, doi: 10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a.

Written by James Brady

Fitness Writer & Enthusiast

James graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His desire to find a place where he could combine his passion for writing and love of fitness is what brought him to OriGym. He believes his passion for daily exercise, especially running, is imperative in keeping him motivated and productive. As a result, he has a particular interest in the psychology of health and fitness and the relationship between physical and mental health. Outside of work, James enjoys reading, swimming, writing short stories, watching classic movies and has a keen interest in journalism and filmmaking.

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