The manager at the studio I work at is great. She’s not a trainer herself, but definitely a business woman. This is great because she openly encourages the trainers to do what they know is necessary in each class and with each client, and I don’t feel like I have to “fit” any particular style of teaching other than my own. I also find this really helpful because she has all her ducks in a row paperwork wise – when I’ve worked for trainer-run studios in the past this was a problem because the owners were focused on their clients and their classes and not as much on the legal and organization side of things which lead to some chaos and confusion.
The only down side I experience is possibly over-extending the schedule with a lot of different kinds of classes and encouraging us to pick up many shifts… but again, not really a problem if you like what you do 🙂
I’ve worked with a number of GFM’s over the years and what stands out to me is their ability to run a great program where there are standards to be met in order to remain in a time-slot and they and their instructors are accountable for the quality of the classes, the way they leave a room after teaching a class, the way they enter the room as one is finishing, and their ability to deliver great class content and class numbers time after time.
I also notice that some appear to think that writing overly-chirpy, standard company emails as “communication” or “inspiration “does not unite a bunch of instructors who are unlikely to spend any time together unless in passing at the facility. Nor does it inspire growth in an instructor. The best GFM I ever had often organized meetings that weren’t just about company rules they were round table discussions of our industry, what she wanted the tone of the group fitness to be in the facility and we got to meet people who may have subbed for us for years that we’d never met before! It was the one time I’ve ever felt part of a fitness team rather than just another name of the 100 on the instructor list. We also had monthly dinner events for just the group ex team, who probably still have one of the most disconnected employee experiences of anyone working in a fitness facility.
This GFM was a true professional who individually assessed each instructor’s class, once every 3 months by her participating in our class unexpectedly, then also letting us know when she would be watching another one of ours and taking notes. We then got private feedback on what we were doing well and what we could improve upon, including mic techniques for the hand-held and head-mics. It took a bit of time to get a few regular spots on the schedule, let alone teach ANY prime-time classes, and this was seen as “paying your dues”, which simply does not exist much in the industry anymore. We also had our pay increased as our talents developed and this was very inspiring since we were being noticed as real teachers, not just another employee/sub teacher on the the payroll. Similarly, if we were late 3 times to our class, we had our class taken away or we would have a $5 deduction from our pay. She sat down the back of the room with a metronome sometimes to check that our step speed was not too fast and that our music was not too loud, and if she asked us 3x to change those two things and we hadn’t bothered, we would lose our class on the schedule. If our class numbers dropped by 10, we were given a month to build it up or lose the class. I’m so grateful for this woman from 15 years ago since I’ve become a teacher who can teach anything, improvise anything on the spot, can turn a slow time-slot into a full class and its an exciting feeling to know that even with talent, I still had to earn my place in the Group ex world, struggle and go through a lot of hours of “teaching” to become the instructor I wanted to be and have the success that i have today.
I think GFMs would see vast improvement if they took control of who teaches what on their programs and hold teachers to a standard. The thing I think is a big problem today is that instructing has now become about being easily given a class at a gym just because there may be a shortage of other teachers or because someone happens to have a certification in that style or format that is trendy…not because they are actually experienced enough to teach a class to a big group at peak hours. You can tell who’s done their time because they make it look effortless, inspired not rehearsed, the class has a noticeable progressive format that flows and makes kinesthetic sense, they explain moves and cue them rather than barking instructions, standing by the stereo and counting down time intervals. That’s not teaching. Anyone can call out pushups, go! for 5mins etc. which is what I see in a lot of group classes today.
Teaching is an acquired skill arising from an in-born sense of wanting to assist in another’s growth… and I think that a great GFM is one of the main people who can help grow a teacher and their sense of place in a club, and then everybody wins.
I would like it if they were or are group exercise leaders and really understood what it means to teach a great class.
I also think recognition is essential, since most instructors make such a small amount of money compared to the time they put in, even a gift certificate or a cup of coffee says a lot!
I always support a fitness manager who is a great communicator, great listener, knowledgeable and leading from the front. Also, the manager needs to understand the environment in which he or she operates in, so necessary adjustments should be made if needed. There are no deviations from these qualities; otherwise there is no need for them to be managers