Nancy has some great points. Her most important point is # 2. I now teach only MELT but used to teach water aerobics. There were a few instructors who ABSOLUTELY DID NOT WANT ME IN THEIR CLASSES, and the uppercase is not an accident. And just recently, when I showed up for a stretch class, the instructor assured me that she really did not have a problem with me in her class but I sensed that she would have preferred my absence.
I’m a big proponent of mentoring. The way you become a good instructor is by teaching, and new instructors benefit by having a supportive place to teach small sections of classes at a time. While I can’t give you proprietary information from the program I designed, here are some general thoughts.
1) Pick your mentors carefully and make sure they want to do it. The best instructor does not necessarily make the best mentor. It’s more about the willingness to share knowledge and empathize with the new instructor. Some of our highest-ranked mentors had less than a year of teaching experience.
2) Consider that not all of your staff will be excited about mentoring. Some will feel like they’re training their direct competition. Others will see it as an opportunity for individual growth (you really know something when you can teach it!) and be honored that you could see and appreciate their skill level.
3) If you are going to ask mentors to spend time outside of their work hours, you will likely need to pay them or compensate them in some way.
4) Another thing to consider is whether you want to develop an in-house program for all new employees and make everyone take it unless they have a certain amount of experience. Then, you could ensure that everyone has the same base information about exercise physiology and company philosophy. I’ve attended company-required programs of 17 and 56 hours. But then, you have to design it and teach it…
5) What do you want most for your new instructors to know? Don’t fire anyone, but what is missing in your new instructors that you think they should be taught. That might be a good place to start. It also might give you some clues on how to interview and hire in the future.
I have always been an advocate of having instructors (new and old) attend each others classes, at least one a month at a fitness facility. It helps new instructors see different cueing and choreography. It helps experienced instructors get new ideas and see things from the client’s perspective. And I recommend using a “buddy” system, pairing a new instructor with an experienced instructor to work along with for a while. The new instructor attends their buddy’s classes for a few weeks. And is taught about the sound system, the class schedule, prepping new music, etc. Both of these tools will also help you when you need to get subs into classes.