As fitness directors, one of the hardest parts of our jobs is finding and recruiting new instructors. The problem is that we want great instructors. Instructors that are highly motivated, certified, creative, invested in the success of our facility, and care about their students. When I started out as a group fitness coordinator, I never could have imagined how hard it would be to find great instructors! I would either come across an instructor who was highly certified but a little bit of a diva with limited availability or someone who was newly certified, extremely enthusiastic, but with no real teaching experience.
The solution that I settled on, which is not necessarily new or innovative, was hiring new instructors who were freshly certified and coaching them through their first few months with team teaching. Now, don’t get me wrong, if a highly certified instructor with lots of experience walked through my door, I would still 100% hire him/her, but I switched my focus from only searching for veterans to mentoring motivated new instructors.
Benefits of Team Teaching
To The Students…
Team teaching is extremely beneficial to the studio and to new instructors. Let’s begin by discussing how team teaching can take your staff to the next level.
First and foremost, being able to hire newly certified instructors allows you to keep a large pool of instructors and maintain a robust schedule. It also creates consistency throughout classes. When we take instructors with all different backgrounds, teaching styles, and certifications, and have them teach the same class, the inconsistency can cause confusion with participants. I’m all for variety, but team teaching allows you to teach new instructors the core concepts and format of specific classes. It helps the instructor grow as a teacher and helps the students know that no matter which instructor they have, they are going to get the amazing workout they are expecting.
Team teaching can also help decrease liability issues because you know your new instructors are following a proper class structure and teaching good form.
To the Trainee…
The benefits to the trainee are numerous as well. I can’t even begin to count how many people have approached me about becoming an instructor over the years but simply don’t know where to start. Many will attend a one day certification and feel nowhere near ready to teach.
As group fitness managers, we have the opportunity to help bridge that gap between certification and being ready to teach an entire class on their own. Team teaching allows instructors to improve their teaching skills such as cueing, developing a safe and effective class format, putting together music, and engaging the class. It also helps them feel more confident in front of a large group and build report with the students over the time that they are team teaching.
How to Create a Team Teaching Environment
So what does team teaching look like? There really are no hard and fast rules, but there are a few key points I cover with each new instructor I train.
- EDUCATION: First of all, when any individual comes to me wanting to teach, I point them to the correct certification to meet their needs. Proper education is still number one in my book and should never be skipped.
- PARTNER: Pair them with an experienced instructor at the gym who I think would be a great mentor.
- GAME PLAN: Next, we lay out a plan for their team teaching program, addressing:
- How many classes will the new instructor be training in at once?
- What is the goal date for teaching the entire class by themselves?
- What areas are they most nervous about/need the most help on?
- PARTICIPATE: I also believe it is important to encourage new instructors to attend as many classes as possible to observe other instructors teaching styles in the class format they are going to be teaching.
- GET IN FRONT OF THE CLASS: Once they are ready to begin team teaching, I usually have them start with the warm-up. The next class, they will teach the warm-up and one segment of class or about 15 minutes, and then 30 minutes the next class, and so on until they feel confident teaching the whole class themselves.
Although this may sound like a tedious process that takes up valuable time, you will be amazed with the results. Instructors that team teach, often improve faster, grow a larger following with students, and are more invested in your facility. We wouldn’t make it without our instructors, so why not put a little more time into starting them out on the right foot?
P.S. from Summer
Hey guys, I wanted to pop my head into this article for a brief moment because I feel team teaching is on of the most valuable assets a group exercise coordinator can create within their facility. I 100% attribute the instructor I am today to the fact that I started in campus recreation and had an amazing mentor who allowed me to team teach for 5-months.
In today’s “its all about me” group exercise setting, it seems people are ‘fearful’ of team teaching, but if done correctly there are many benefits. Plus, EVERYONE sucks when they get started (sorry, deal with it), but team teaching provides the support of another instructor to be there when mistakes happen, to help in understanding the ropes, and to provide feedback is one of the best things a new instructor can have.
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MS: Recreation and Leisure Studies
BS: Sport Management
AFAA: Certified Group Fitness Instructor
ACE: Certified Personal Trainer
Balanced Body Pilates Apparatus & Reformer Level 1, 2 & 3
YogaFit Level 1 & 3