Hi! I instruct a group exercise leadership course at a technical college. The course curriculum does include book/lecture components but I am looking to amp up the class this semester and incorporate more practical hands on assignments/activities. Thinking back to when you first started teaching, what do you feel would be a helpful activity to help better prepare you to instruct a class? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Sounds like a great course! The practical side of instruction is very much needed (makes the book component seem easy!). I’ve been teaching over 25 years, and looking back I did have a practical portion of my testing for group fitness. A few things that come to mind are the following:
–Personal Activities: Simple things like introducing yourself and describing the format or theme to the class. Smiling and greeting members by name give a more personal feel. Making eye contact with members and letting them experience your energy may help motivate them more and make them want to come back. Build an instructor’s confidence, because they may be scared to teach and make mistakes at first. Also, one last thing here–proper tone of voice. Practice energetic and motivating voices, but no screaming/yelling at the class.
–Technical Activities: Practice cueing and monitoring the class. Cueing the class for the next move while watching for proper form. Sounds easy, but an instructor always has to think ahead about what they will do next while constantly checking that the class participants are performing an exercises correctly. An instructor must be able to cue and walk around the room to monitor and correct form if necessary.
Also, if applicable to the class, help instructors teach on the phrase of the music or to the beat. This is not necessary in every class, but for some it is necessary–and sometimes you either have it or you don’t!
Last, being prepared and on time go a long way! Hope these suggestions help.
To piggy-back off Christine, I would again emphasize anything to help add in safety. Other points I would focus on if I were in your shoes:
-How to keep all levels comfortable? Being able to talk and explain AND do the exercises all at once is a challenging combo, but the more practice people can get in their course, the easier it will become!
-Keeping class interesting? How music affects the mood. (I have some classes who only want hard rock, others who only want pop!) How the instructor being ‘on’ for every moment is so crucial. If we don’t give a vibe of loving our job, how will they love the class? (This doesn’t mean we need to be all smiles the whole time, but a passion for what we are doing is important!)
-And again, safety. When I take other instructors’ classes, I am scared how often the instructor is not talking about form nor fixing an individual who is incorrectly doing an exercise.
Best of luck!!
I don’t carry AFAA certifications any more, but I always liked their way of analyzing exercises. Their 5 questions are:
The AFAA 5 Questions™ 1. What is the purpose of this exercise? 2. Are you doing that effectively? 3. Does the exercise create any safety concerns? 4. Can you maintain proper alignment and form for the duration of the exercise? 5. For whom is the exercise appropriate or inappropriate?
The way I analyze (similar but not exact) is,
1) What’s my client’s goal (either an individual exercise or a program)
2) How well does the exercise / program support that goal?
3) How can I regress the exercise or progress it to make it accessible to my client?
4) Would another exercise be more effective or more fun?
5) Do the benefits of this exercise / program outweigh the risks (considering safety, effectiveness, client compliance, other exercise choices).
Teaching a process of analysis is so much more important than teaching any single exercise. Too many of our instructors today are copying pre-fabricated programs without knowing how to analyze them.
Hello Becky Ingebrigtsen,
What best helps me prepare to teach group sessions is my training to be prepared with the knowledge and confidence to work with people of all ages and fitness levels. ACE personal trainer, health coach and group fitness courses all go hand in hand to keep me on my toes and able to think quickly while demonstrating moves. Learning how to speak properly, so as not to offend anyone, is huge.
I go in with a class in mind, notes on my wrist; but, I am floating on cloud nine when the participants take me off the designed scheduled course and are fully engaged with questions for the complete experience of large group personal training. I attend to each and every one.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
Experience. Of all the things I did to prepare for a class, none of them taught me as much or gave me more tools for teaching than what I learned when actually teaching classes. It would have been nice to get to do that in a supportive educational environment. But the added pressure of doing it “for real” made me pay more attention to what was happening. Mistakes were more apparent, what did and didn’t work was obvious. But I also had a healthy strong sense of self. I am not afraid to fail or admit when I do. Learn and adapt, then move on.
I teach and have taught instructors. I think one of my best methods is to assign them to design a class by a certain date and then randomly pick a student to teach their class every few days. They all know they will have to teach their class, but not exactly when. And I tell them that the students who teach the first few get a few bonus points because going first is harder than having the benefit of seeing the common rookie mistakes to avoid later. That helps them relax a little I think.