If you have already mastered the workout genre you teach now—whether it is kickboxing, HIIT or yoga—have you considered venturing into new territory by learning another discipline?
There are many advantages to having diversified fitness training skills, but perhaps most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to become a more well-rounded instructor with a deeper understanding of the body and movement, which will allow your clients get the most from their workouts with you. Read on for advice from an instructor and studio owner who left their comfort zones to teach multiple workout genres.
Research and explore, then decide
If you are considering branching out to teach a new workout genre, do research, explore what you like and then decide what suits you best. Instructor at Uforia Studios in Palo Alto, CA, Caitlin Yates is a former a ballet dancer and NFL cheerleader who started out teaching cycling classes and later took on a strength training circuit class called GRIT. Before she did so, it was important for her to make sure this was something she wanted to teach and that she felt prepared to train others to do safely and effectively.
“My advice would be to read and learn as much as you can about different types of fitness to see what areas you are most interested in. I would also recommend starting the process of getting certified in disciplines that interest you as well as your general group fitness certification.”
Don’t sell yourself short
If you are interested in trying a new workout genre, don’t sell yourself short by doubting your abilities. You are more than capable of learning and teaching a new discipline. This is a tip that Karen Hill, founder and instructor at First Wind Cycling & Fitness in Charlotte, NC, offers based on her experience learning to teach barre with her roots in cycling and strength training.
“I was most scared and hesitant to teach barre, but now it’s one of my favorite things to teach. You know more than you think you do, and you are more dynamic than you think. Just because you’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years and nothing else doesn’t mean you can’t teach cycling or kickboxing. In fact, your background may make you more valuable because of the different elements you can bring to your new class, so go for it!”
Draw on what you know
Once you are learning how to teach a new exercise style, remember to draw on what you already know from your current experience as you start designing and teaching classes in another discipline. Hill used this tactic when she was preparing to teach barre classes at her studio after years of being a spin instructor and doing strength-training circuits. She found that utilizing the skills and training methods she already had in her repertoire allowed her to more naturally craft and guide others through the barre routine.
“Use what you already know in the new class style and you’ll be a better instructor. For example, a yoga instructor starting to teach barre should carry the principles and styles they have learned from their yoga practice into their barre class. It will help you feel more comfortable in the new style and your class will come across more genuine to your students.”
Notice your tone
Another important consideration as you begin teaching a new workout genre is to be aware of your tone in class. As Hill describes, “Different genres are generally supported by different energies. If I sound like a yoga teacher while teaching a kickboxing class, my energy is probably not supporting my students in their endeavors. When I go from teaching cycle to barre, I shift my energy and my style appropriately.”
Practice before you get into the studio to get used to the different styles you will have in class, especially if you have been teaching a certain genre like Pilates for a long time. You might curate a playlist with songs that will help you to tune your energy appropriately for the workout if you are concerned you will fall back into your default mode!
You can also benefit from taking classes in the workout style you are learning to teach, paying close attention to what you like or dislike about the language, tone and energy of the instructor to apply or avoid those elements in your own class.
Keeping yourself organized as an instructor is also important as you branch out into different disciplines. Each class you offer may have unique cues and playlists with particular BPMs or music styles you choose to create an energy and atmosphere. It’s possible that in the beginning you might sometimes mix things up between classes, especially if you have playlists for different classes that share songs but have distinct cues! Yates has experienced this as she started teaching two different high-energy classes with a strong focus on music at Uforia Studios.
“I think the biggest challenge that comes with teaching two different disciplines is keeping all of my choreography and music organized. I now have tons of choreography and musical cues to remember, and they are constantly changing. I have found that using note cards and organizing my Spotify playlists by BPMs has really helped me stay organized.”
Figure out what you need to keep yourself on point in classes. Maybe you have to create a weekly “lesson plan” for each class that you write down and keep on hand, or perhaps you even avoid mixing songs in your playlists at first while you get used to all of the new cues. What you don’t want is for your classes to blend together or to take your clients out of the zone when you mess up. However, if you do make a mistake once in a while, just shake it off and keep moving.
Market your diverse skills
When you have trained in two or more exercise disciplines, market your diverse skills! Make it clear on resumes or during interviews that you have this varied background and are able to wear multiple hats in the studio. If you have put the time and effort into developing yourself as a fitness trainer, be sure that potential employers or business partners are aware! Hill shares that finding instructors for First Wind Cycling & Fitness who are skilled in multiple exercise genres is invaluable.
“You go to the top of the pile if you’ve got diversified experience. Not only can it make you more marketable, but understanding different types of workouts gives you a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the body, how it moves, what it needs, and different ways to deliver results. Your classes in each genre will be deeper and more well-rounded when you can apply what you’ve learned from understanding how and why different workouts are effective.”