When preparing to teach a group fitness class, you need to take certain factors into consideration prior to beginning the class. These factors, when looked at as a means to enhance the learning and results achieved, can make the difference between conducting an average class and conducting a class that everyone will want to be part of.
Environment Makes a Difference
When preparing your fitness class, whether in a gymnasium, or in a state of the art fitness center, the actual environment participants are in can make a huge difference. Use a room that is well lighted and well ventilated. Although sweat is part of any exercise routine, no one wants to "smell" the workout. Be sure the air is moving and that the room temperature is conducive to an effective workout. If it is too hot or humid, breathing can become a problem and the amount of sweat pouring off participants can definitely be an issue. At the same time, if it is too cold, people can get turned off. No one wants to feel chilled. Use mirrors on the walls to give the illusion of illumination, space, and roominess, so people do not feel cramped. Lastly, make sure you use music to set the tone, literally, for your workout. In some ways, the music you choose can be as important as the workout itself. Make sure it is not too loud that it is deafening, but loud enough to give off its own feeling of energy.
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
No one wants to see the remains of someone else's workout. Equipment used must be wiped down with a cleaning solution before and after each use to ensure that germs and bacteria are not transmitted among participants. Mats also need to be cleaned, dried, and aired out to ensure sweat is not left on them and moldy odors are never allowed to develop. Wipe mirrors in the room often, to make sure smudges and smears are removed, so that the mirrors can be used as an accessory to the training and not a dirty distraction. Due to the fact that many fitness classes use the floor as part of the exercise, it must be cleaned often, whether vacuumed if carpet or wiped if tile or matting. Stained carpet must be dealt with before odors over take the room. Wet tile or matting, from dripped sweat, can be disgusting to see and dangerous to step on.
The Routine Itself
As a fitness professional, it is your responsibility to make sure that your routine is up-to-date in terms of the current trends and methods. Exercise physiology knowledge is always expanding due to the continuing research on exercise technique and training methods. You must also always be on the cutting edge of the best training methods for your clients--after all, you are the expert. You need to make sure what you are doing is fundamentally sound. In other words, your clients' physical safety is your first responsibility. Certain training methods may not be safe for everyone to participate in, due to individual needs and individual limitations. Make sure that your exercises do not pose unnecessary risks or dangers to your clients and that no one is asked to do something that is not safe.
Safety is Not Just a Word.
In addition to making sure your exercises are fundamentally sound, so no one is being put at unnecessary risk, your must make sure that your are prepared for any out-of-the-ordinary circumstances that can occur. You need to be up to date on your lifesaving skills and certifications. Additionally, make sure you, or the club you are working at, has an emergency plan to deal with whatever may happen. No one wants to think about, or plan for the worst. However, when it does occur, having plans in place can make the difference in any life or death situations.
You are the Leader, So Be the Leader
You may be the biggest factor in the experience your participant have during your class. Make sure you are well prepared for the class. Have everything ready, from the equipment that will be used to the music being cued up where you want it. If you give off lots of enthusiastic energy, your clients will feed off of that. If you, however, give off the signal that you are less than enthusiastic about being there, they will feed off of that, as well. Be loud and be proud. Your clients will reciprocate your energy.
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2000
- "Personal Trainer Manual"; American Council on Exercise; 1997