I’m so excited to announce that I’m finally teaching fitness classes again! And it makes me so happy! My official classes are Wednesday nights: bootcamp at 6:30 and kickboxing at 7:30. The gym is called Pura Vida Fitness; it’s a small studio with tons of fitness classes ranging from yoga to TRX. I’d almost forgotten how much I love teaching!
It’s been about 3 years now since I last taught in St. Louis, and I’ve had a lot of perspective between then and now. While I’ve always put a ton of thought and planning into all of my classes, there are certain things I wished I’d been better at or done differently. I’m not sure how much others noticed these things, but I definitely reflected a lot in order to better myself as an instructor now. Also, I’ve honed in on the aspects of fitness instructors I really like so that I can better emulate them. Here’s what I came up with:
What I did well
1) My classes have always been hard. Like, probably really hard. This is a reflection of all the work and effort I put into planning them. I figure that if I am winded at the time and sore the next day that most other people are as well. I also think this is what attracts a lot of people to my classes.
2) I like a lot of variety. My classes were always different each week- I never did the same exact class more than once. Sure, similar moves would appear here and there and my warmups were all pretty similar, but aside from those aspects my classes were constantly changing and providing new challenges. This is what keeps people coming back.
3) Once I got used to teaching, I’d perfected my ability to give clear verbal cues about form. I don’t think I’ve met a single instructor who reminds students to “stop holding their breath” and “squeeze the abdominals” more than I do. Maybe it’s annoying to some but I think this is SO important that it warrants constant reminders even when students have been working out for years. It’s amazing how easily we can forget to breath and squeeze when we’re focused!
What I could have done better
1) I want to incorporate more of my personality into classes. I think I was always very focused, which gave off the impression of being almost business-like. I was matter-of-fact and straight to the point. Most people thought I was shy! While I do think that sometimes I get into a personal zone, I’d like to try my best this time around to pull back from that a bit. I want to inject a little more conversation into my classes- more of myself. I definitely don’t want to be annoying and overly chatty about topics no one cares about while others are slaving away and sweating profusely. But I think even smiling once and a while or commenting on what a great job individuals are doing will help.
2) Be friendlier. I want to make it a point to learn everyone’s names! I used to be nervous that if I asked someone multiple times that they would think I was an idiot (I know, this is both ridiculous and untrue). So the result was that I was terrible at names. I also hated singling out people who were new because I didn’t want to embarrass them- but I now realize I don’t think anyone is embarrassed by this and if anything it’s important information for me to have as the instructor.
3) Be more hands on. This is going to sound strange, but for a long while I was kind of afraid to put my hands on other people- especially those I didn’t know. Well, three years of osteopathic schooling later I can now say I’m VERY comfortable with it! And I do think it’s important to incorporate in my classes; primarily because sometimes correcting form and having someone shift positions with physical contact can make more sense than just telling everyone to do it. Have you ever been in a yoga class and felt like you were taking instruction perfectly- but then the instructor comes over and lightly places her hands somewhere and you suddenly feel lighter? Like you just get it? I want to provide helpful moments like that! And I think I can.
So there you have it! I’ve come clean about my weakness as an instructor and feel I can continue to use my strengths well. I’m looking forward to teaching as much as I can this year!
Is there anything in particular you look for in an instructor? Likes and dislikes?