Being a group fitness instructor requires dynamic energy to get participants excited and eager to sweat. Do you possess the traits and skills needed to make you the ideal leader of the pack? Keep in mind, many of these skills can be learned or even refined to make you an even better instructor!
As group fitness instructors, we should take what we do seriously, but not at the expense of creating an environment where people cannot have fun. Laughing can help alleviate the physical discomfort of an intense exercise or create the camaraderie needed to find success in an exercise. When we mess up as instructors, we should be able to laugh at ourselves and own the mistake.
Your physical appearance should convey that you’re neat and professional. Wear modest clothing that keeps you appropriately covered during all movement. Make sure your hair is away from your face and you are able to focus on your teaching skills rather than your outfit. Each facility and modality may have its own unique culture and attire, but professional and conservative is always a safe bet.
Nothing is more off-putting than an instructor with a diva attitude. We have the opportunity to impact people who take the time out of their busy schedules to follow us and learn from us. Be nice. Be kind. That saying you get more bees with honey is true!
It's contagious. Share yours; your class needs it. We can have great choreography and be very knowledgeable but without a little charisma, our classes might fall short. We don't all need an over-the-top personality but we DO need some stage presence. After all, we are in front of a group. We need to be engaging. Great music is a huge part of creating an energetic class. Spend time finding music that represents you and your personal style. If the music rocks your world chances are that energy will shine through to your class.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. We are in the business of relationships. Smile at your class. Smile before class. Smile after class. Let your students know that you like being there. Your smile may be the only smile they get all day. It's like a ray of sunshine. Spread it. It makes you feel good and it feels good to those who see it.
Go take other classes. Go to seminars. Never assume that you don't need refreshing. Even if you have many years of experience in the industry, we should always desire to change, learn and tweak our craft. We should expect from ourselves what we expect from our own children and others—to keep learning and growing.
Admit that you are not perfect. Hear constructive words. Swallow your pride and ego. When you screw up, own it. It allows your students to screw up, too, and to feel human. We need more of this in our industry and in life! Know that you do not have all the answers. It will create a space for your classes to thrive and grow.
We become so focused on health, fitness, diet and new moves that we lose sight of the rest of our lives, and on quality time with family and friends. Take time to turn off electronics and sit in silence. This downtime is an important part of well-being and health. I once heard a group exercise manager say to an instructor who was stressed out and trying to get a class covered because she had a sick baby at home, “Honey, it's just aerobics." Pursuing excellence should be celebrated and could be an appropriate goal for some people. But realizing when our pendulum has swayed too far to one side is a sign that we have lost a sense of balance around our work. Striving to keep the pendulum centered is a great objective.
Create a fun environment. If our members are not having fun, they will not come back! We need them in our classes and in our clubs. They pay our salaries. Let your creative juices flow—celebrate someone in class, dress up for Halloween or center a class around a theme. There are so few places in life where it’s safe and acceptable to yell and get crazy. Take advantage of that.
Sub for your fellow instructors and answer their messages! Get your classes covered. Your group exercise manager is not your babysitter. The success of the program and club depends on everyone helping one another and pulling their weight. Remember the saying, “Scratch my back and I will scratch yours.” This action goes a long way.