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The Art of Instructor


Last week I wrote about my experience filming a Les Mills class for all the instructors in the world who teach these formats. Here is part two.

On day one I found myself in a room with the film crew, coaches, all the presenters and my team for this round of filming. The meeting discussed the upcoming week and the importance of  “trusting the process.” I found myself with two presenters, Corry and Peg. Wow — now Corry and Peg are not human, but rather come from the planet of Perfect Body and Musculature — this planet lies just above our universe. In comparison, I am but a 52-year-old hag from the planet Earth. This should be interesting standing next to these two, I thought. Once I got over that (which I never did) we went on to learn our choreography for the filming and within three hours we were given the task to teach the entire class live to a packed class at the Auckland club.

Now those instructors out there who know Les Mills are perfectly aware that it is not easy to learn an entire release and then teach it in a mere few hours. Yikes! So for the first class I rushed to do my basic scripting of what I wanted to say and prayed that I could wrap my brain around connecting my movements with some decent articulation of speech. I will refer to this as baseline. Epiphany #1: Set your baseline with anything you do in this business, whether it is selling memberships, training a client, greeting a member at the front desk or teaching a class. What is your vision of what it is supposed to be like; or rather, what should the experience be like for the recipient? What does your outline look like? Scripting is the key to our success, especially for our staff in training.

The first class didn’t go so bad. Matter in fact, it was fairly seamless. Good for us. Now the work begins — time to get back to the hotel room to hunker down and really start feeling this class, identify what it’s all about and begin to layer. Epiphany #2: Once you set your baseline with your business initiative, then start to layer. Layering is about taking your outline and adding purpose to it. It is about saying the right things in the right way at the right time. How much more effective would we be in our business if we took the approach of layering the contents of our purpose to make the recipient’s (our members and potential members) experience memorable and comfortable. When we layer we turn fear into confidence for our recipient’s, whether it be a potential member or a client/participant. Isn’t that what our business is all about to begin with?

The next morning we jumped right into a rehearsal followed by our second go at teaching the class. A very full class indeed, and this is when I should begin to feel comfortable but for some reason I began to start second guessing my verbiage. This is where I must tell myself to “trust the friggin process.” Our fourth teammate was an adorable and delicious Kiwi named Jenni with an accent of perfection and a calm and cool swag. I remained the old 52-year-old hag. Ugggh! A quick lunch and back to work to unboggle my mind, which is swimming with thoughts of “what am I really going to say,” and “what is the message I want to send.”

Time to start mapping. Epiphany #3: After layering it’s time to begin mapping.  Mapping is about letting what you say “land” and have meaning. It’s about creating cadence in your cues and creating a journey of contrasts so your participants want to go with you and trust you. I must create an amazing journey because I am here to be exemplary in the art of Pedagogy. Pedagogy is teaching an instructor how to teach, and that within itself is a true art. In our industry we lack talent. It’s not like people are busting down our doors with degrees in Fitness Facility Management.  Matter of fact, that curriculum does not exist in any university setting. How scary is that? How do we truly teach our co-workers and employees? Our business is about being instructors. We have to take a client through our process and show them how to be successful. If we do our homework and set our baseline, our layers and our mapping, we are well on our way to delivering a successful and meaningful experience to our members and potential members.

Stay tuned for next week as the journey unfolds and valuable lessons are learned.

Lori Lowell is the President of Group Fitness Solutions, LLC, and owns 8 Fitness Facilities in Virginia and Wisconsin. Contact her at lori@groupfitnesssolutions.com.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Kristina October 30, 2012

    to understand the “process” as deeply as you are describing it here, is to know without question you deliver world class group fitness experiences. i appreciate taking the journey with you as you tell it and CONGRATULATIONS!
    P.S. i think all of us forget sometimes that its not always about us. to shed the burden of one’s self could take a lifetime. at 52, you are beautiful and wise.


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