It’s time to build your group exercise bench. Where do you start? Here are some tips from Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and senior vice president of learning and product development for FIT4MOM®. Fable recommends that program directors focus on the following three areas:

  • Warm up to rookies. Don’t be afraid to hire a brand-new instructor. During the interview, home in on attitude and availability, then on aptitude. If the attitude is right and availability is there, and if the candidate can teach multiple formats and time slots, then you can teach the required skills.
  • Look within. Cross-train current employees inside and outside your department; this is one of the easiest ways to build your roster. Start with your current team and focus on instructors who are eager for more work, but keep in mind that no one should monopolize a category, format or time slot. And don’t forget about personal trainers!
  • Scout classrooms for potential superstars. Diamonds in the rough aren’t always in the front row! Watch the entire class—and also look for potential on the main workout floor. Notice people who move well, are consistent and have a positive attitude. If you don’t already have an internal mentoring program, create one to help members transition from participant to instructor.

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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