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In my opinion, the Fitness Industry has to be one of the most saturated… ever. With studios, gyms, personal trainers and fitness instructors. So how on earth do you tell the difference between a good one, a great one and one you should avoid?!
As a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor myself, I’m pretty critical when I attend other classes. I’m looking for good music, clear instruction, good vibes and of course, a workout that does what it was supposed to.
In a previous role, I trained people to become fitness instructors and personal trainers and even started (but didn’t finish?) my Assessor and Verifier awards so I’m pretty sure I can be constructive with my criticism too.
I thought I’d share with you what I feel you should be seeing in your group fitness instructor and the classes they deliver, especially as now so much more is delivered online.
1. They're Friendly
Your Instructor should be warm, welcoming and friendly ! They should introduce themselves by name at the start of the session and give you a little overview of what to expect. You should feel comfortable asking for help when you need it.
For online classes, if you’ve booked direct, you’re more than likely going to know who they are already but I’m sure you’ll still get a warm welcome.
2. They Screen You Before Class
You should complete a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) when you join your gym / studio. This is to check for medical conditions and ensure it is safe for you to exercise. Your Instructor should always check for injuries at the start of the session too.
For my online classes, the PAR-Q is completed during registering for my online booking platform. I then have a pop up disclaimer before every class on Zoom which reminds participants to tell me if they have any new injuries.
You can private message instructors on Zoom so you don’t have to tell the whole class what’s up.
3. Alternatives Are Offered
If you have an injury or are unable to do an exercise you should ALWAYS be offered an alternative. You shouldn’t be forced or feel obliged to do any exercise you don’t feel comfortable with as it will increase your chance of injury.
It’s always ace if instructors can offer progressions as well as regressions when it comes to alternative exercises, to keep everyone challenged.
4. Keep An Eye On Your Form
In a face-to-face studio class, I’d expect your Instructor to walk around the room to ensure that everyone is executing the exercises correctly and safely. I always tell my participants that “quality is more important than quantity” .
Online, every participant has their own box on the display which I have on a TV next me ensuring I can see everyone clearly. This is definitely a benefit of using Zoom over platforms like Facebook and Instagram where you can’t see participants.
5. They Focus On You
It’s your workout , not your instructors. Having paid to be guided through your workout, you’d wanna know that the instructors main focus is on participants.
In my more recent experience with online classes though, I’ve found it can be best to do some of the workout as participants don’t have a class full of other people to follow and you don’t need to walk the room.
So personally, if I’ve got a group of regulars, I’ll usually do some or most of the session. If I have new attendees, I’ll keep an extra close eye on them to see how they get on.
6. They Always Share Teaching Points
When your Instructor gives you an exercise, they should also cover teaching points .
For example, if you are doing a plank a couple of teaching points would be to “have your shoulders over your wrists” and “keep your eyes focused above your finger tips to keep your neck in alignment”.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record saying the same things repeatedly but teaching points are important to ensure good form and prevent injury.
7. They Demonstrate Exercises
Before these fabulous teaching points though your Instructor should demonstrate the exercise for you all once or twice *with good technique*.
It’s mad the amount of times I’ve seen instructors demonstrating poor technique. I take my time when doing demonstrations to ensure participants are clear on the movement. I usually keep going till everyone seems to have gotten the hang of the exercise, along with sharing teaching points, especially if it’s a complex one.
8. The Class Has A Format
The class structure should make sense . You should start with a warm up, move onto the main workout (which could be in multiple parts) and finish with a cool down.
Your cool down shouldn’t include sprints…everything should be progressive in the right direction.
9. You Might Love ‘Em, You Might Not
You won’t like or love every Instructor. So maybe that’s one benefit of there being so many?!
You may not like their sense of humour…their style of teaching…just something about them. That’s fine! There are plenty of others out there so you keep searching till you meet ‘The One’ with the vibe you like.
I always try not to take things like people not returning to class personally, as there could be a multitude of reasons. But if I’m not the instructor for someone, then they need to find the one who is for them!
10. They Should Look…
Now this one contentious topic. What should your Instructor / PT look like?! Should they be super fit and ripped? Do they need to be able to do everything?! Should they BE a machine?!
I feel that knowledge is more important than looks when it comes to Fitness Professionals. Your Instructor should know what they are talking about. As an Instructor myself, I have always worked on technique to ensure that I can show clients perfectly how to do the exercises I set.
I’m not competitive and I love when clients become ‘fitter’ than me or can run faster than me! …None of us are the same and I feel proud when I see the progress in those I have trained! My knowledge has empowered them to reach their goals …and that’s what keep it simpElle is all about.
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