I started training individuals in the Spring of 2010, and I took on my first group fitness class shortly after that. For about a year now, I've been managing the group fitness program at my club. And before I even joined this industry, I attended group fitness classes. So I've got some perspective that might be of use if you're looking for tips for group fitness instructors.
Behold, the following.
People take group fitness classes for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is often the fact that they simply don't know how to build their own workouts. This means you play a big role in the advancement of their health and fitness goals. Sure, you have those days where standing in front of a class and leading a workout is the very last thing you feel like doing, but you have to do it. It's your job. And people are paying for your expertise. So you have to invest. Every single time. And whatever you do, don't give your students the slightest hint that you're not ready and able to lead them.
2) Keep your lesson plans.
This is a good idea for a number of different reasons. If someone gets hurt and it comes back to haunt you, you'll know exactly what you did that day. If you're not feeling it, or if you don't have time to plan, you can look back and pick a class plan that you know has worked in the past and then all you have to do is show up and teach your heart out. And, finally, if you keep track from class to class, you can advance those that come regularly.
3) Plan your music.
Nothing kills the mood in a fitness class quite like bad music and down time. If you have to stop in the middle of your class to pick a new playlist, then you're not coming to class prepared. Your students don't need to see you fiddle with the sound system when they're ready for their next set of squats. They are there to move, so keep them moving! Furthermore, make sure whatever you're relying on for music is ad-free. Because no one needs to hear an ad for another fitness club when they're in your club. It's not worth the risk.
4) Learn how to balance your personal and professional workouts.
Remember, you are getting paid to lead a class. And while you're not leading the class for your own benefit...you will benefit from the physical activity done in the class. This can impact your personal workouts, and your personal workouts can impact your professional workouts. If you're not balancing the two, you're not showing up to work in top-notch form. Prioritize your schedule. Take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.
5) Be prepared to offer modifications.
When you lead a class, you are responsible for the people that take it. Depending on your numbers, it can be hard to watch everyone at once, but you absolutely have to try—not everyone that walks through your studio door is on the same fitness level. And you, as the instructor, need to be able to instruct all fitness levels. So as you plan your class, think ahead to potential modifications, just in case you spot the need. And if you don't know what modifications can be offered for a particular exercise, ask your coworkers or simply choose another exercise.
6) If your numbers are low, look within.
There are a variety of reasons that class attendance is low. A lot of which you, as the instructor, cannot control. Like the weather. Or holidays. Maybe even other classes. But you can't point fingers. While it's the easiest solution, the first thing you have to do is look within. Find out what YOU can do better. Ask a coworker or friend to attend one of your classes and welcome their feedback. And then, if things still don't change, talk to your supervisor and come up with a solution.
7) Take other classes.
Find out what your peers are doing. It's called research and, quite simply, it works. Plus, you never know when you'll be called upon to sub. And subbing is most likely part of your job description.
8) Be current.
There is a reason we fitness professionals have to rack up continuing education credits: This industry is always changing! If you've been teaching in the same time slot under the same class name for years, that doesn't mean you don't have room to grow the format. Nowhere is change more important than within the fitness industry, because we all know that plateaus and ruts are a real (often hard to overcome) thing. And we fitness professionals are the go-to sources for overcoming them.
Question: Are you a group fitness instructor? What do you teach, and what tips can you add to the above?