Whether it is for 5, 50 or 500 people, instructors have to simultaniosly inspire energy, encourage enthusiasm and ensure their students’ safety. Although important, there’s a lot more to a good instructor than an interesting routine and a positive attitude. If you’re looking to increase bookings in your class, or you’re a studio manager wanting to hire a useful instructor, have a look at these tips on being a great instructor…
1. Know your audience
If you’re an instructor you should know by now that an exercise class for postnatal women is a completely different experience than a 45-minute high impact HIIT session. Getting to know the audience in all of your classes as an owner is essential to creating a relationship with your members. Take time to research the needs of your class before jumping into holding an open class. Ask yourself these questions:
- What style of workout will the members be expecting?
- What is the usual audience for this style of workout?
- Is this targeting a market I already have or am I going into something I haven’t tried yet
- How fast would the members need to be/how experienced/how to fit
- What type of attitude do I need to bring to the class i.e. Yoga = calm and centered; HIIT = highly energetic and motivational
2. Build a relationship
Building a relationship with your customers and students is one of the easiest ways to guarantee recurring visits and build a positive reputation. There are a few ways you can build trust as an instructor:
- Get to know your students on a first name basis. Not only does this make the student more comfortable, it makes the experience more personal for them even if you’re managing a class of 50.
- If you’re going to announce the number of sets in an exercise, avoid lying about amount left. It rarely works in the way you think and leaves members often questioning the trust between you.
- Touching base with clients who seemed to struggle or had mentioned an injury to you reiterated a sense of trust. After the class, approach the member and talk about how you can work together to reduce pain or the difficulty of the class.
- If you have a weekly newsletter (which every studio should have), one way to build a great relationship is to give props to the achievements of classes from throughout the week.
- For example, “A special congratulations our 6.30 BodyPump class! Everyone went up at least 2.5kgs this week, Keep it Up!”
3. Organise yourself
One of the most disheartening moments in a class is when the instructor is noticeably unorganised. A well-organised class is similar to any other well run system, in that it should be the least noticed component. This includes:
- having the correct music,
- keeping equipment well stocked and sorted,
- having a clean and concise routine together;
- and be well versed on the variations of each movement.
A lot of instructors take ‘motivation’ as ‘noise’, meaning the louder they are the more motivation the students will receive. This, however, is one of the worst things you can do as an instructor, especially for smaller classes. Motivating students comes from a variety of directions besides from increasing the volume on your mouthpiece.
Firstly, make sure you are watching the class (and really watching) for students who are struggling a little bit more than others. The moment when they look like they’re about to give up is when you swoop in and be their motivation.
Secondly, a great way to motivate a class is to work with them, literally! Completing the move besides students reinforces the idea that if others can do this, why can’t they?
Lastly, understand not everyone responds well do the sergeant style training, and not everyone needs a soft touch during their workout. Figuring out (very quickly) which style works for the class is one of the most important parts of a great instructor
If you’re a certified trainer you should be well versed in the modification required of different members in different positions and moves. A good instructor will explain the modifications in relevant positions, but a great one will know when and to whom they should be recommended to. This is especially the case if you’re taking a class with a specific demographic i.e. post or pre-natal, injury based classes or strength building classes. This is another case of really watching your students, and keeping a close eye on key indicators of muscle or joint issues that require modifications.
6. Add your own touch
Lastly, remember that this is your class! Yes, it may be a HIIT class or a Vinyasa yoga class, but you are holding the class because you want to share with people your love for the practice. You will never have a student complain about the class being ‘too inventive’ or ‘too expressive’. If anything, this personal touch could be just what your studio needs to bring it out of the fog of countless fitness studios and into the spotlight!