As it is that time of year that I am running a course for future group fitness leaders, I am reminded once again, how much work, and knowledge!, it takes to be a great group exercise instructor. Once upon a time group fitness instructors had a reputation of being a little, shall we say, “dippy” and leading the group because she was nice to look at. Perhaps, as aerobics began, that was the truth. I reflected on this idea (and even discussed it in class) when I started to break down the knowledge that is required to put a class together. I had that “look” from students. That look is the one that says to me, “are you kidding me, I thought we just put on a random piece of energetic music and got moving”. People don’t realize how much knowledge it takes to lead safe, effective and fun classes! I heard the comment, “but they make it look so easy” once again. And the truth is, great instructors do make it look easy. It comes from experience and, let’s face it, a lot!, of practice! The “dippy” reputation is a thing of the past as more and more knowledge and certification becomes required for people to teach classes.
Let’s face it, leading people through exercises has the potiential to injure. So we must know what we are doing! Leaders must be, yes positive, energetic and motivating for sure. But, just being these things does not equal a safe and effective class. Consider for a moment what leaders must include in his/her warm up alone:
The warm up goals are to increase body temperature and heart rate, mentally prepare for what is coming up, and loosen joints by warming up the synovial fluid (our body’s natural joint lubricant).
In addition to achieving these goals, she must have a variety in movements and directions, move all joints through their normal expected ranges of motion, use the proper beats per minute of music, keep her choreography on the beat, on the 8 count and phrased into 32 count blocks of choreography. Oh yes, and she must be energetic, motivating and positive!
AND this must all happen in the first 5-10 minutes of the class! You can only imagine the list that must be covered in the cardio and muscle components!
So, the next time you attend a class and think “wow, that was great!”, be sure to go and thank your instructor and tell her what a great job she did! She certainly worked for it! Oh and by the way-congratulate yourself for getting to class that day!