Side Hustle Spotlight: The Actor Who Supplements Teaching Spin Class

Photo Source: Courtesy Jess Nurse

A few weeks ago, we talked about how a side hustle should fuel your acting, not suck your energy. To help illustrate what I mean about there being more options out there than slinging drinks and waiting tables, I’ll interview five actors who have fulfilling side hustles that don’t interfere with them kicking ass in the acting world. Their IMDB pages are stacked, they’re producing their own projects, and their side hustles have actually helped them achieve acting success, so be sure to check back for much-needed inspiration. This week, we chat with Jess Nurse.

Side hustle: Spin instructor at Rev Cycle in Eagle Rock

General working hours: 1 hour and 40-minute shifts, 4-7 times per week

Years acting: 5

Favorite acting credits/opportunities: “Grace and Frankie,” “Scandal,” and MFA

What do you do when an audition or shoot comes up?
Similarly to a restaurant, I just ask if anyone can cover my shift. Most instructors are able to help each other out. It’s only ever an issue if the audition is last minute and even then you can usually find a way to make it happen. And often getting a “sub” means the studio has the opportunity to introduce clients to a new instructor.

Have you ever felt like your side hustle was in jeopardy because of acting? How long did it take you to feel like you had security at this side hustle, even if you took time off for an acting project?
I’ve fortunately never felt like my side hustle was in jeopardy, mostly because the owners and managers are super understanding about acting opportunities. I’ve taken at least two months off for filming and the whole staff has jumped on board to help. I’m so thankful for that.

The thing that can be difficult when taking time off is that your class numbers can sometimes drop when you return. Clients will explore other class times and teachers and it might take a bit to build back your client base.

What skills or talents did you need for this side hustle? How long did it take you to qualify or complete training for your side hustle?
My certification took 12 hours but it also was required that those applying have at least six months of intensive indoor cycling experience. (I had been a “student” for six years prior to getting trained.) I applied for my current studio and began teaching two classes a week and built my schedule from there. Some studios don’t need you to be certified prior to auditioning—they’ll train you themselves!

How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
It really is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Working in health and fitness you get to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves; to feel strong and happy. I’m definitely not a teacher whose focus is on calorie burning or bikini bodies. I want my riders to just feel incredibly motivated about their lives, to feel like they have a space to be in their bodies and to challenge their athleticism.

Has your side hustle made you better at acting or achieving your acting goals?
This side hustle has taught me so much about acting. It’s been a big lesson in owning a room and owning your power. My speaking voice has dropped probably a full octave since I started and I feel a lot stronger overall. I also get so much from my clients. I see them fighting for their goals on a daily basis and it inspires me to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting side hustles like serving?
I used to work in restaurants (and I honestly think everyone should at one point in their lives.) But I found it really zapped my energy at the end of the day. I would also just feel small. There is an internalized apology with restaurant work—the customer is always right—and that apology can filter into your real life, making you shrink when you walk into a room, especially an audition room. I saw my spin teachers back then and how confident and full of life they were and how much agency they seemed to have and I thought, I want that!

If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
It definitely allows me the time to make acting my focus. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of work that goes into teaching. You have to constantly re-educate yourself: on fitness, on technique, on marketing, on music, and on your studio. But once you have your routine down of hours and how you promote yourself and make your playlists, it frees up a lot of time during the week for all your creative pursuits.

Do you have any advice for actors that aren’t sure what path to take while they are waiting for acting to pay all the bills?
Find something that you love doing but that doesn’t become your full-time side hustle!

Linnea Sage is an actor, voice-over artist, writer, and producer in NYC. She currently stars in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network, as well as voicing superheroes in the Marvel video game, Avengers Academy. Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter and @Linnayeahhh on Instagram.

Get all of your side hustle questions answered by peers and experts on the Backstage Community forums!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Linnea Sage
Linnea Sage is an actor, voice-over artist, writer, and producer in NYC. She currently stars in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network, as well as voicing superheroes in the Marvel video game, Avengers Academy. Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter and @Linnayeahhh on Instagram.