The Exceptional Instructor
There is so much magic that happens within a group fitness class. A good instructor will lead you through a great workout, but an exceptional instructor will guide you through an amazing experience. The exceptional instructor appreciates that fitness is more than sweat and reps; it’s about connection & community. A great fitness class is one where the experience is memorable.
So how can you focus more on tying people together and less on what comes next?
While it’s not as easy as a two-word sentence, it can be fairly simple once you have the right tools and a system. Before you start this next process, you need to know the goal and target market of the class; however, those topics are not covered in this article. At this point, we assume you know the workout’s purpose and are ready to implement class planning.
Here are 5 tools to use for successful class planning:
1. Construct System
Fitness thrives off of consistency. We see improvement and growth when we can practice and perfect movements. This is why a structured and repeatable class construct can help your participants see their progress.
A class construct is a simple recipe for a great experience. Take some time to brainstorm on what ingredients should be used in your warm-up, the body of class, and the cool down. Think of these ingredients as buckets of content. In other words, don’t be specific as to “Standing Cat and Cow” but rather “Thoracic Spinal Movements” so that many elements can fit into your ingredients bucket. This allows you to plug in different movements to add variety to your class.
Once you know the ingredients, design it.
Use a chart-building tool to help you graphically design your construct. Programs like Google Slides and Canva can help you put your thoughts into a plug-and-play chart. This chart will be vital to the next stages of your class planning.
2. An Exercise Library System
Now it’s time to build the specifics of your ingredient buckets. You need a way to list all of the exercises you are about to collect in this step. Your List Builder can be as simple as a Word/Google Document or a Trello board where you can create a checklist per each ingredient bucket.
Research and brainstorm on as many different exercises as possible that will fit within each bucket. If one of your buckets is “Lateral Moving Cardio”, then draft a list of as many different examples as you can. If you can’t think of many, start researching the movement pattern to find new ideas.
Consider using exercise libraries provided by equipment and education companies, as well as experts in the industry. Take specific workshops and training that will expand your knowledge base, but make sure you log what you learn in your List Builder before you forget.
3. A Rotation System
Yes, consistency is key to fitness improvement, but variety is the spice of life, right? To help you quickly create new classes based on your class construct, create a bucket rotation system.
By using the class construct and exercise library, you can quickly plug in new movements without having to create and memorize an entirely new class plan. This allows for you to keep consistency throughout each class, while still offering “new” ideas for you and your participants.
Week 1 – Change exercises for the Warm-Up buckets only
Week 2 – Change the exercises of 1 bucket from the class body
Week 3 – Change the exercises ofanother bucket from the class body
Week 4 – Change the exercises of the cool down buckets only
The class construct & buckets will remain the same (the ingredients) while the exercises themselves will change. Without a checklist thought, it’s hard to track what you changed the week prior. So create a quick list with your rotation – keeping in mind, it can be as long as you want/need. You can add this checklist to the top of your List Builder or as an additional chart in your Chart Design to help you track.
4. A Storage System
Have you heard of the 4 Rs? Recycle, Reuse, Reduce and Repurpose. Not only will these save the planet, but also your time, effort, and energy. It bears repeating that consistency is the key to fitness improvement. While above we talked about a Rotation System that will help you keep consistency and variety at the same time, it’s important to remember that you can absolutely repeat an entire class plan again. But you need a system to store the class plans.
As you create your classes, you are going to type or write the exercises into your chart, allowing you to quickly print off your creation to take to class to guide you. If you are using a chart builder like Google Slides, you can simply create a new slide within the document so that all class plans are saved in one location. If you are printing your class plans, you can store them in a binder or folder.
5. A Rating System
Once you teach class, make sure to write notes to your future self. What about the class plan was great, needed improvement, or should be changed the next time you teach that particular class. Having a rating system allows your future self to decide what class plans to repeat and what to change about a class plan to make it successful. Don’t depend on your memory to keep all of this information – write it down, rate the class, and store it for later use.
By using all of these systems, you can quickly create a class in minutes. Use your saved creation time to focus on crafting the following experiential pieces of your class: class welcome, new cues, music playlist, partner or group-based activities, class questions, focused mantras and meditations or endings.
Remember, the magic of group fitness happens during those moments in class, not by your new choreography or exercise selection.