One of the toughest aspects of being a fitness instructor is bringing your A-game to every single class you teach. For many, this serves as a motivator and just seeing your clients’ faces ready to work gets you in the right mindset. Of course, we’re all human and have off days, but it’s important not to slip into behavior that impacts the class experience. Just as you need to be aware of what you should do in class, you also benefit from knowing what you should not do in class.
We asked instructors from ClassPass studios what their top no-nos are for class. Their insights helped us make this list for you to reflect and correct!
#1: Don’t leave class right after it’s done
Do you rush out of the studio as soon as your class ends? If so, stop! We know it’s tough to juggle a busy schedule, but if you dart out the door the second the clock strikes, you may be doing a disservice to your clients and to yourself.
Kate Rowe, co-owner and instructor at BeachFit Baltimore, sees the time at the end of class as a valuable opportunity for clients to engage with you and each other.
“As class is ending, it’s easy to want to just get out and get going on to your next thing, but I’ve seen that time after class to be a crucial few minutes when clients ask questions, talk about class and connect with you (and each other) on a deeper level. If you’re truly dedicated to making your class and your studio a great place to workout, use those 5-15 minutes to connect with your clients.”
#2: Don’t take photos without checking in first
Sharing pictures or videos of your class on social media can be a fun way to motivate clients and create a feeling of community. However, there are many reasons people may not be comfortable having their picture posted online. Having everyone sign a consent form may not be feasible, but it’s a good practice to check in with clients to, at minimum, get verbal consent for pictures.
Rowe believes this is vital to make sure everyone feels safe: “We love taking photos to share on our social media accounts, but not everyone wants their photo shared all over the internet! We have it listed on our website that you may be in photos, but we strive to talk to all our classes as they begin to warn them if we think we’re going to snap some photos–and give them an opportunity to say no if they’re so inclined!”
#3: Don’t refuse modifications to “push” your students
As a fitness instructor, you have learned to gauge clients’ levels of ability as you introduce a new exercise or pose. You can probably tell which clients have enough experience to do a more advanced modification and may encourage them to try it out.
While it’s great to push your clients because you believe in them, remember that you may not be aware of their physical, mental or emotional state that could affect their performance that day. Don’t refuse them the chance to opt for a less intense modification just because you feel they are capable of the advanced one!
Don’t refuse clients the chance to opt for a less intense modification just because you feel they are capable of the advanced one.
Rowe stands firm on this policy when it comes to her clients.
“Whether they’re at the first class or at their 500th, all students deserve to know what the modifications are for your exercise moves. Often instructors think that more experienced students should only try the advanced moves, but as professionals it’s important to remember that everyone has off days and strengths/weaknesses unique to their own body.” And while she encourages instructors to push and motivate clients to go beyond what they think they can do, she adds, “Make sure you provide them with safe, thoughtful options every time they need them.”
#4: Don’t be a show off
Showing off your abilities can be inspiring and motivating for clients. After all, they are going to class because they want to learn from you!
That said, Mairead Bergin, founder of cycling studio Spinoff London, warns not to get so caught up in proving your own abilities that you forget your number one role: to teach.
“It’s not what you can do that’s important—be a teacher and show your client what they can do.”
If you are showing an advanced move for guidance, there is no shame in enjoying the look of awe on your clients’ faces (it’s a perk of the job, right?!). Just make sure that you are explaining exactly how you do it and show your clients how they can do it—or build up to it—with good form to keep them safe.
And last but not least, we had to throw in a bonus:
#5: Don’t forget to be nice
This may not seem like much, but it’s important! It’s easy as an instructor to get caught up in what you have going on personally or professionally and forget that a huge part of your job is to make your clients feel good. If clients are afraid of you because you’ve assumed the role of drill sergeant, they won’t want to come back.
Bergin sees this piece of advice as a key one. “It’s a workout, but be nice to people. Always make people feel comfortable in your environment. Remember everyone starts somewhere, and while getting people to a great level of fitness is great, walking in the door day one can be a huge achievement. Small kindnesses matter to everyone.”