Let’s face it. If you are taking any type of fitness class, whether it be aerobics, body sculpting or yoga, there is a good chance you are there to learn, to be motivated and to get a good workout. As a result, you are probably looking for an instructor who will be a great teacher, fun and effective.
Having taught aerobics for over ten years, I’m extremely atuned to the level of quality an instructor brings to the class. I am often amazed at how many instructors aren’t very good, or for that matter, aren’t very inspiring. As a result, I’ve outlined some traits that you should look for to know if the instructor is worthy of your time and money or if you are better off with someone else. If you take a class and find that you leave underwhelmed, there is a good chance that the instructor was lacking in one of these capacities…if not all of them.
- Forgetful Freddy: Look, all of us can be forgetful at times, but if there is a pattern of forgetfullness on the part of your instructor, it is probably a clue that they aren’t so great. Things that might suggest your instructor’s mind might be somewhere else:
- Your instructor has problems remembering where they are in routines during classes
- You find that your instructor continually doesn’t remember what they did the week before, even though they are ‘adding’ to last weeks’s classes
- Lopsided Lola: If your instructor works your body assymetrically (doesn’t work both sides of your body equally) it can lead to possible injury and/or lopsided muscle development, especially if it happens class after class. This is not good in the long term. You want an instructor who works both sides of the body equally, and even more importantly, all muscle groups, ensuring that you don’t over-develop any one muscle or muscle group.
- Offbeat Olga: If you are in a structured class that requires you to follow a routine to up-tempo music you should be able to literally ‘feel the rhythm’. If routines don’t flow well, or if you feel like they are awkward, there is a good chance your instructor just doesn’t know how to choreograph routines properly. Moreover, if moves aren’t choreographed well, you might trip, fall or even pull or sprain a muscle due to the fact that your inner rhythm wants to do something different than what your instructor has taught you. Rhythm and flow of classes are important in maximizing your ‘feel good’ endorphins and motivation, as well as keeping exercises safe.
- Sergeant Sam: Some people like to be told what to do or even like to be yelled at to do things, but in most cases, people want to be treated nicely. If your instructor has a drill sargent mentality and doesn’t treat you with respect, then you shouldn’t bless his class with your presence. Find an instructor with the personality that is right for you. A little ‘tough love’ isn’t bad, but if it is all you get, that can be demotivating and leave you feeling stomped upon. Neither of which you need when trying to release stress.
- Basic Barbara: From the beginning of taking an exercise class, your instructor and class should challenge you. Sure, basic moves are good and safe for beginners, but as you get used to a class and as you become more and more comfortable with the different exercises, routines or moves, you should progress and move forward. If your class isn’t a specific level (e.g., beginner, intermediate or advanced), your instructor should show you modifications that make the moves more challenging or less challenging, depending on your individual level.
- Fast and Furious Freda: The tempo of the music needs to be right for the class. For instance, if you are in a step class and the beats per minute are too fast, you will possibly injur yourself or fall. If you are in a class where the tempo is too slow for the exercises, you might not get an effective workout. Either way, there is a range of appropriate beats per minute for different types of classes. If you feel that the class is too fast or too slow, there is a good chance you are not alone. Politely ask your instructor to slow or speed up the music to meet your level of comfort.
- Monotonous Mona: As an instructor, I know that it can be difficult to constantly create new choreography or exercises…sometimes you even burn out. That said, instructors are paid to motivate people and to be creative. It is their duty to make the class fun and interesting. If it isn’t, then they aren’t doing their job.
- Lazy Larry: When you take an exercise class, you should feel challenged. Granted, different classes challenge you in different ways. For instance, if the class is meant to be a cardio or aerobic exercise class, your heart rate should fall within the target heart rate zone of exercise. If the class is more strength training oriented, you should feel ‘the burn’ in the muscles that you are working (it should ‘hurt’ a little to complete the set). And if the class is more flexibility training oriented, you should be able to stretch a little further every class. If within any of these class types you aren’t working very hard or don’t feel very challenged, you probably aren’t. Find an instructor that makes you work for your money…that is what you are there for. You should feel that you have gotten something out of any and every class you go to.
So good luck finding your ideal instructor. They are out there…just be choosey. You owe it to yourself!