Teaching group fitness classes requires proficiency in numerous skills, including counting, cueing, demonstrating movement, offering modifications and motivating participants. Whether you are just starting to teach or are an experienced instructor, taking the time to continuously develop and improve your instructional skills is essential for providing a safe, fun and effective group exercise experience for your participants. Gaining feedback from others and conducting your own self-assessments are excellent ways to identify your teaching strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities for growth and education. Here are a few ideas for obtaining feedback and assessing your skills:
Participant feedback can be obtained during class through observation of your participants and outside of class through verbal or written feedback.
During class: Throughout your class, you can gain feedback by assessing your participants’ movement and other verbal or nonverbal cues. For example, if you observe that many of your participants are a few steps behind you or they frequently stop and watch you for a few seconds before rejoining the class, this may indicate that they are struggling to hear you or that the movement needs to be cued earlier or more clearly. If you notice improper technique among numerous participants on the same exercise, consider ways you may be able to improve your own verbal or visual cues to enhance technique and safety. By paying attention to your participants’ movement, technique and other verbal or nonverbal responses to your instruction, you can assess yourself in real time to identify instructional areas or skills that may need improvement.
Outside of class: Solicit feedback from your participants by talking with them before or after class. Ask them questions regarding specific aspects of your teaching and have them provide suggestions for improvement. If you prefer written feedback, provide participants with a short survey to complete or speak with your group fitness manager to inquire about a specific survey provided by the facility.
Ask another instructor if they would be willing to attend or observe your class to evaluate your teaching skills. It may be helpful to provide the instructor with specific criteria by which to evaluate you or provide an evaluation form for them to complete. You can create your own evaluation form or find one online via several group fitness resources.
If your group fitness manager does not already conduct regular class assessments, ask them to attend your class to provide an evaluation. In addition to gaining feedback on your teaching skills, this can also demonstrate to supervisors your commitment to growth and development as an instructor.
While watching yourself on video can often be an uncomfortable experience, a video assessment provides you with the unique opportunity to observe yourself from the point of view of your participants. It also makes it possible to objectively evaluate your movements, clarity of cueing, teaching style, and overall class leadership and management skills. During the video observation, it can be helpful to complete an evaluation form for yourself; following the video, take some time to reflect on your teaching strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.
Make a Plan
Once you have determined areas for improvement from both the feedback and video assessment, create a plan to strengthen and refine your skills. This can be done through practice, additional feedback, video assessments and continuing education opportunities specific to the skills you want to improve. Once you implement your plan for improvement, continue to make feedback and self-assessment a part of your growth and development as an instructor.