One of the best experiences I have had travelling was during my time working for Neilson Active Holidays in Greece. I worked the summer seasons for them for a few years in different resorts around the beautiful country and had some amazing experiences. This allowed me to explore the country on days off and during annual leave and save money for trips between seasons. Greece is a beautiful country and I am forever greatful for this introduction to the country. It is a favourite for history buffs, beach holidays, island hopping, yoga retreats and so much more.
It also became a beneficial point on my C.V demonstrating a number of transferrable skills and a great talking point in interviews (which are nerve-wracking). I didn’t really plan to work in Greece, nor had I ever been to the country. This happened when I was in a situation where I just really was not happy with my job, relationship or being back in the U.K for a little too long after my time living in New Zealand. I had ‘A moment’ (this is a common theme for me) and applied for Neilson on a whim, then I went on holiday to France and Switzerland the next day.
Whilst I was on holiday I got an email requesting a skype interview, which I had whilst still away and next thing you know I had the job. Once I arrived home I had one day to pack and then I was off to Lesvos Island in Greece for a training week. This article aims to give you an idea of what to be prepared for should you want to be a Seasonnaire, both the best bits and some of the lesser liked parts.
Pictures above were taken by CE Photography from one of my morning yoga classes at Vounaki Beachclub, Greece
What To Expect From Working As A Resort Fitness Instructor In Greece
What Do You Need To Get The Job
- You will need to have a Level 2 Group Fitness Instructor / Exercise to Music Instructor Certificate.
- Any additional Certificates such as Yoga Teacher Certificate, Pilates Instructor or Personal Training Certificate would be beneficial and help your chances.
- You will need experience working as an instructor.
- Positive attitude and willingness to share ideas.
If you get offered a job role as an instructor I would recommend attending other instructors classes and make notes (or virtually attend sessions). How did those sessions feel; Were they tough, easy, fun? And try to write a few session plans for classes that can be adapted for those who have high or low levels of ability and experience. Conventions like the International Fitness Showcase (IFS) held in Blackpool every year or FitPro are really useful for upskilling and getting ideas.
A Typical Day As A Fitness Instructor In Greece
Classes would run from 8:00 through till approx. 11:45 then restart at 15:00 till 18:45. Classes would vary in duration from 30 minutes to 1 hour with personal training being available in the lunch break or you could fit these in before / after your day. Times of these sessions and the types would vary depending on the resort, instructor and the overall time table.
Pictures of me teaching on the beach with a small group at Messini Beach Club taken by CE Photography.
- 08:00 – Morning run or walk with guests, sometimes a morning swim or paddleboard.
- 08:30 – Breakfast
- 09:00 – Yoga – style dependant on the instructor
- 10:00 – High intensity Fitness Class – (HIIT or Spin)
- 11:00 – Pilates
- Break for Lunch/Personal Training Sessions
- 15:00 – Aqua Aerobics or Swim Fit
- 16:00 – Gym Based Resistance Training (WOD style workout / Circuits / Conditioning)
- 17:00 – Aerobic session (Zumba, Boxercise)
- 18:00 – Stretch and Relax – Typically a gentle stretch with a short meditation or Yin yoga (45 mins)
- 19:30/20:00 – Evening Entertainment – Usually once / twice a week.
Other Considerations When working As A Fitness Instructor On Resorts In Greece or Europe.
You do have targets to meet for each site based on feedback and income. The feedback is really important and Neilson (the company I worked for) do expect high standards and positive feedback across each department.
The guest feedback can be really useful as a motivator and you tend to find departments have a bit of a healthy competition of who can get the most mentions in comments or the most weeks with 100% excellent ratings from guests.
The extra income side of was very realistic at Neilson (I’m not sure about other companies, I have heard from previous staff that there is more emphasis on sales elsewhere). You could easily hit the targets without trying to sell anything. However, you do receive a commission from all programmes or personal training sessions you do (which is given to you at the end of the season, with a small weekly bonus for completing your contract). I should mention that there are onsite gyms too.
I just used to work to my strengths and offer additional workshops for things off-timetable like acro yoga or one to one in a specific style. I’d also do strength and conditioning programmes if we had athletes on-site because I was experienced working with athletes and after my second contract I started a BSc (hons) in strength and conditioning back home. I also had over a decade experience and qualifications in this area. This meant I reduced down to mainly peak season from Early June – Mid September for the following summers.
Pictures Taken During My Fitness Classes (Yoga, Ab Attack and Beach Bootcamp) by CE Photography.
The Best Parts Of Working As A Fitness Instructor In Greece
Exploring The Local Towns
Being able to live in beautiful locations, walking to work (or skating and cycling in many instances) was always that little bit nicer than being in England.
You would walk along the coast to reach resorts and through gorgeous Greek villages.
I don’t think I need to tell anyone how beautiful Greece is but I have included pictures on here to some of the resorts and villages I worked in.
They were all in small greek villages (by this I mean less built-up than typical resort towns and almost all of the other residents were locals). Many of us were able to learn the language (we didn’t have to but most people did to some extent) and get to know more about the local area and places to go.
This also meant that when we went out to eat or drink we would be in greek bars and restaurants. Eating authentic greek cuisine, rather than the tacky British or American style bars found in busy European towns. We would often get drinks or food on the house and have a local ‘staff bar’ that would enable us to escape from the guests in quieter spots (some evenings you want to socialise with your colleagues but needed a little rest bite from facing the guests).
Having Siestas or Half Days To Enjoy The European Way Of Life
This varied dependant on the area you worked in. For Fitness we had long lunch breaks as you can see above. We’d also get most evenings off (other than the last night of guests and the rotation of big charity events). I would always start the season being productive going out on a paddleboard, for a walk, a cycle or I’d read a book etc… as the season progressed this ended up as either booking massages in the onsite spa, hiding in the shade from the sun or needing a nap.
Day Off Club
Each week we would have a full day off which was a perfect opportunity for you to explore the local area. We were also very lucky that our contract included an annual leave (Holiday Club). This would equate to 0.5 a day every week which ended up with us having a few weeks off over the season to either relax, enjoy the resort or head further out.
When I worked in Palairos, Sivota or Vassiliki this would mean heading to Parga or Lefkada with a local car rental and exploring.
When I was working in Skala Erasos, we would explore the island and head to places like Molyvos, Petra or Polynictos.
In Messini we would explore local beaches, Pylos, Petalidi, enjoy the waterfalls, history of Sparta and the ruins of Ancient messini or head for the mountains.
Access To Facilities On-Site
This is my personal favourite. Guests pay to use these facilities and they should always take priority in this however if you are able to respect the site (knowing the guests all obviously know you are staff) then most resorts will allow you to use any kit that free or jump on lessons.
On my lunch break, I would often book a tow wakeboarding or go out capsizing Picos and lasers (I mean sailing them lol). The slogan hashtag of Neilson staff is #myjobisbetterthanyourholiday and you will see this posted all over Instagram and Facebook. From what I’ve heard of those working for Club Med, Mark Warner and Scott Dunn this is the same.
Learning New Skills
As mentioned above I had lots of opportunities to try out the facilities and learn or improve skills in different sports. We would also have staff jolly’s doing regattas, boat trips, races, learn tennis or at least booze and balls (Tennis and drinking games have never been so fun).
We had a training week with other instructors where we got the chance to teach sessions. We were stronger in with feedback and then those we were weaker in to help our improvement. We took notes from each other, shared our session plans, problem solved the types of guests we may have and adapting them appropriately. This became a great way to skillshare that often many instructors or coaches miss out on.
SUPfit Classes at Vounaki Beach Club taken by CE Photography
In addition to this, I was put on a SUPfit (Stand Up Paddle Board Fitness) Level 1 and 2 Instructor courses whilst in Lesvos. Part of other qualifications was funded by the company to help with development. They have development schemes in place to train or upskill staff in different areas as long as you continue to work for them. In a non-job specific way I got to learn how to sail, windsurf, wakeboard and drive a powerboat – see above. I attempted tennis and many of the advanced skills (emphasis on the attempted).
Meeting New People
You will meet so many new people over the season. You will work in a team of 60 – 100 ish depending on the size of the resort including local staff and English staff. Friendships with other staff become quite intense because of the time you spend with them at work, in the evenings and sharing staff accommodation.
Meeting Amazing Guests
They loved the staff and loved the experiences they were getting on the holiday. Some of the guests would come back each year and not only recognise you, but specifically ask to be in resorts where staff they knew were based. They would often tip, put you down for dinner with guests (this was something introduced by the company to allow guests who felt staff had gone out of their way, to show there thanks). I also ended up becoming friends with a few guests from my first season.
It was all just really fun; Meeting new people, instructing, the learning of new skills, experiencing the beauty of the local areas and people.
A Few Realities Of Working As A Fitness Instructor In Greece
It is hard work
When are you going to get a real job?
This question is all too well known by seasonaires. The worst part of this question isn’t just the patronising tone; it’s more the realisation that living in the small towns close to work, the evening entertainment/fundraising events and split shifts mean you’re always on the go. It’s tough, the season can feel long and you need to maintain the full positive energy when facing guests.
This is the bit people forget to warn you about till it happens. Then when it does, its like a snowball effect as you realise most of the staff are going through it. This is when the heat, sun and socialising have taken its toll after the first few months.
The party and drinking side of it is really fun, however it loses its’ charm seemingly quicker for fitness instructors than it does for others. This may be to do with the fact that as fitness instructors, we want to demonstrate a level of fitness to keep up with what we are teaching whilst still doing the training that we want or need on top of this, or it may also be because there is a lot of peak season staff that are young students working between academic years. That being said on my first season I did let my hair down a lot and go out a lot (I am not sure how my liver coped).
Although it is one of the most fun experiences, it is a job and needs to be treated as such. With many people are there for a break in the monotony, studying of pursuing their passion. I have worked with many people who just couldn’t hack it. They thought it was like a season in Magaluf where they could just party and do minimal work. Others just turned up late one too many times. The term Chalet Gatwick was a common phrase for those who got fired or were at risk of being fired. I’m really good at getting up early but I was late a couple of times over the years, and I did get disciplinary for those. It definitely wasn’t regular and usually 3 strikes and your sent home.
I really loved my time as a seasonaire, as I have mentioned in a few other articles before travelling I was really, really timid but this definitely helped me to develop my confidence in my job role and as a person.
I really miss season life, If I were in a financial position to be able to continue doing this each year I would. However, adulthood prevails with my career progressing rapidly over the past few years. I only ever worked for Neilson doing season contracts and they treated me really well, so I would always recommend them. However, there are other companies out there that you can work for.
All Pictures unless otherwise stated were taken by the amazing CE Photography team that is based at each of the Neilson resorts for pictures of guests taking part in activities. If you work for them they will often get pictures of the staff too over the weekend and you are able to save your images for download throughout the season.