Teaching group exercise class can be extremely time consuming. In addition to the hour you are leading your participants through their workout, you are likely spending hours preparing. In order to teach dynamic group fitness classes that keep your students engaged you have to create class plans, come up with new choreography, learn new music and so on.
Are you spending 5, 10 maybe even 20 hours preparing for a single one hour fitness class? Are you feeling burnt out and exhausted before you even start teaching?Preparing for classes doesn’t have to wear you out and take up all your free time. Here are 5 strategies I developed over my 25 years of leading group fitness classes that have helped me work smarter, not harder.
- Keep a Library
Back in the day I used to keep a binder of all my choreography notes and class plans. You can easily jot down your notes and keep adding to your notebook. This can even be done digitally by using your notes on your tablet or phone. But I know from personal experience how confusing it can be looking at old choreography notes.What I have found to be extremely useful is creating a video library. This is especially helpful for dance based workouts with a lot of choreography. You can use your phone to record and refer back to videos at a later date as a refresher. Save them on your computer or store on an external hard drive. Storing them online makes it simple to refer to them using another device like your phone or tablet at a later date and Dropbox and Google Drive are great free resources for storage.You can also upload to YouTube or Vimeo. I love the capture app to record and easily upload right to YoutTube. You can make your videos unlisted or private so only you have access to them. Whether you create a written or video library, either makes it easy to reuse old class ideas at a later date.
- Add a Prop
This works great for classes like Pilates, Barre and strength training classes. Simply add or change the piece of equipment you are using and perform the same exercise.For example perform a series of 10 exercises on the floor then do the same 10 exercises while utilizing the Bosu. For barre classes I have used that technique and it has become a really effective way of changing up my classes without coming up with a brand new series of exercises. I’ve also performed a series of exercises at the barre followed by the same series without the use of the barre. You can do the same thing with weights, a ball or gliding discs. Props can provide you with dozens of ways to do the same exercises.
- Play With Your Playlists
If your class is music driven your playlists need to always be fresh and current. If you keep using the same playlists week after week your students will get bored and your classes will feel stale. What I have found helpful for my dance based classes is to always have one new song on my playlist. Even if it’s a simple as a new warm-up or cooldown. My students know there will always be something new to look forward to. You can even use the same choreography from a previous song. This is works very well for warm ups with limited choreography.Changing the order of your playlist can help keep things fresh and exciting. This works really well in indoor cycling classes. Do you always play songs in a particular order? Shake it up, move it around. Play with your playlists and always be adding new songs in.Yes Music has been extremely helpful for keeping my barre classes fresh.Using the Yes Go app and subscribing allows me to quickly create a new mix for every single class I teach. The exercises may be the same but the music is always new and fresh.
- Timing is Everything
You can create new class plans using the same exercises and playlist by simply changing your timing. When teaching a body weight workout and performing squats you can add variety to your class by changing the counts. Let the music set the cadence (singles, 2:2, 3:1, 1:3, pulses). Take a quick break and repeat. You can implement the same strategy on almost every exercise you perform.
- Mix It Up
You don’t need to create an entire new class to make your classes feel fresh and new. You can make yesterday’s class new and exciting with a a few quick changes. Flip the order of your exercises: Did the order of your exercises go from lower body to upper body? How about starting with the upper body and finishing with the lower body.You can easily rearrange your class order. I do this a lot for my dance fitness classes. Always doing songs in a certain order can make your your students feel like they know exactly what is coming up. Change it up – there is an element of surprise that will keep your class on their toes and engaged. Take a few minutes and mix it up, your class won’t know what hit them!