A growing number of personal trainers are expanding there scope and teaching group fitness classes to supplement income and help keep group fitness programs running while instructors are out. I recently witness a nail biting tragedy where a personal trainer was covering a sculpting class a argument broke out in the middle of the class, there were people in the back of the room doing there own thing, no cueing, modifications, or class instruction for that matter. We all know that personal trainers are not group fitness instructors… But, would you let a personal trainer teach classes if you did not have an instructor?
I think personal trainers CAN be equipped to teach group fitness. We all know how unregulated the fitness profession is with certifications etc. In addition, when privately owned clubs/studios are focused on income, its difficult to focus on quality instruction and safety. It’s a shame, but money rules.
As both a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I believe that all fitness professionals have a responsibility to know their own skill set and to care enough about clients to say “no” when we aren’t prepared for a specific task.
We all have different talents. It sounds like in this particular situation it wasn’t a good fit.
I train one on one, small group, and teach large group-ex (I went the other way around – started in group-ex, found a passion for small group, then moved into personal training). They’re very different skills and energies, but it’s possible for one person to be skilled at both. Someone already suggested Todd Durkin as an example of this ability.
The broader issue i see is club subbing policy. I have worked for clubs whose mentality is that it’s better to have an unqualified warm body teaching a class than cancel a class for one day or find an appropriate sub.
Depending on the personality of the trainer it could work, but usually not because of the different skill sets. I was certified as a personal trainer first and then moved to group fitness. I worked at a gym where there was a group exercise studio and then a small group personal training studio where the personal trainers taught small classes like Kickboxing, core, TRX, etc.
By and large, I noticed that the trainers were not that effective as group instructors. On of the hardest things for me was when I was in the kickboxing class and couldn’t hear the trainer because his back was toward me and the music was so loud. I understand they didn’t have a mic, but these are small things that trainers don’t learn until they have to or care to.
Ultimately, if it’s my space, I would require the certification and/or relevant experience. And, of course, an audition. We have to audition for our jobs and a PT shouldn’t be covering a group class without the director really knowing if they have the skills to make that happen.
I instruct yoga and circuit training courses so a local gym thought I would be great at teaching an aerobics class. My first day was a learning experience for sure. I will admitt, I was not a very good instructor for about two weeks. I finally turned the job over to a certified group instructor who enjoys teaching aerobics, and took the class under them for about two months. I learned so much in that time about conducting group exercise outside of the military. That was about 8 years ago but the experience resinates with me even today. Like Michael said “imagine if a spinning instructor, yoga or aerobic instructor filled in while a Personal Trainer was out?”; its easy, just imagine feeling overwhelmed and a little out of place, then go get additional training before you try it again.
Not sure I have anything new to offer here, but wanted to chime in here. The situation descibed brings me to some assumptions about the situation that may or may not be true, so leaving that aside, I teach a bootcamp and some days I have 20 ladies and others I have 2. So my class changes from a group setting to almost a one-on-one situation. There are times I may have very experienced campers in a class with a person who has never attended a group fitness class before and needs additional instruction. I am comfortable wth leaving the more experienced to work independently for a time while I closer instruct the new member; which is not uncommon. So not knowing the personalities of the class, it is difficult to give a specific response but to agree with the consesus. Personal Training is a Professional Service. As such, it is the personal trainer who should decide whether they can safely and effectively take on a training class.