Im a group fitness instructor about to embark on my first job. The gym I will be working for wants a functional strength class but Im having a hard time deciding on what exercises to do and how to make the whole class flow. I was wondering if anyone has any pointers on making a nice cohesive class? What are your top 5 tips for designing classes?
First, congratulations. I see you did ACE, which is a great certification. I am sure you found quite a lot to absorb in the study materials. Being in front of a group for the first time can be nerve-racking, but like any new skill with practice it gets more and more natural.
I would suggest to go basic when you first start. Better to do simple moves well with clear instruction, and later add the more creative or complex stuff. One thing a teacher said that I really like, (and use myself) is it is better to do 2 with really good form and range of motion than 8 and not really get what you wanted out of it, or worse, hurt yourself.
Also try to connect to the people in front of you. I always ask whether anyone has any injuries or conditions that they need to modify for, and would like you to offer suggestions as you teach. It is helpful to build a sense of community and trust, which will be a good base as you find your feet as a teacher.
I think if you get bogged down in wanting to be perfect, or be loved by everyone it can be distracting for the work at hand. You will forget words, you will forget your iPod, you will forget names. But if you listen, look people in their eyes, offer the best workout you can, and thank them for their presence it will make up for a lot.
In a core style class (similar to the functional class) I like to build blocks. I will have a base exercise, and then a set of variations. Each variation adds some new element: weight, complexity, multi joint, and so on. I will teach a set of each variation with a stretch between each set. Then I will do a second set, with no stretches until the end. I invite the advanced people to follow me up the ladder, and the beginners, or those with need for modification to repeat the base, or to climb the highest rung they can do without creating compensatory movement (in other words, where they loose form). I also invite them in the second set to put stretch breaks in where they need them.
Have fun. And best of luck.