10 Things I do to prepare to teach a class {A non-workout variation of “Wednesday Workout”}

I’ll be back next week with a workout- I didn’t teach much last week so I didn’t have much to share with you!

…..

The other day I was thinking about the work and preparation that goes into putting together a workout to teach in any one of my various classes. Although my prep time has drastically decreased from the first class I taught to now, I still need to spend a little time beforehand putting together a workout if I want go into the class feeling prepared, organized and ready to teach. I remember when I first started teaching I would create a workout and then go to the gym to actually DO the workout to make sure it was a. hard enough and b. long enough to fill the hour. It’s so funny to think there was as time where I had to do that!

Now, I am by no means a “seasoned” instructor, but with over 2 years under my belt… and seemingly a thousand classes… I have come a long way, which is why I thought it would be fun to list out my thoughts and actions that go into my prep work before I teach a class. Maybe some of my instructor friends can relate to some of them? Maybe you do things differently?

Preparing to Teach a Class

1. Think about what class it is: Muscle Mix, UXF Burn, SHRED, Kickboxing, etc. Once I know what class I’m teaching, I can figure out if I need to be following a format, combining cardio and strength, just teaching strength or cardio, etc.

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2. Think about the club location and members within the class: The members in my classes vary so much from gym to gym! Monday mornings are an older group, so I tend to be more mindful of the moves I choose to make sure they are at their level. The BSC is a younger/more intense crowd than my other gyms so I feel like I need to be really prepared there as they tend to expect the most out of me and my workouts. The YMCA is just an amazing place to teach because not only is my class filled with ALL (literally ALL) shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels, they are all so nice and welcoming and I never feel any pressure when going in to teach there. I’ll never forget my first Saturday with them and the feeling I had when the CLAPPED for me during the cool down. #bestfeelingever

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3 Think about the format I want to teach: Tabata? Supersets? All lower then cardio then all upper? Combo moves? Stations? Circuits? 3-2-1? This is probably what takes me the longest during my prep time because I like to keep things interesting for my members and change up my format from week to week (unless it’s UXF Burn, then the format stays the same and I just change the moves). Even though they love stations, I don’t want to do those every week because then they might get sick of them and/or they won’t be as excited when I decide to do them. But, what’s time consuming about this (and challenging at times) is also what makes it so fun; I love having to really think about interesting formats and new things to bring to class.

4. Try to incorporate at least 1 “new” move each class: It doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering, but even a new variation on a standard move helps to spice things up a bit and keep the members on their toes.

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5. List out the “equipment needed”: By putting the list of “equipment needed” at the top of my workout sheet, I can quickly tell everyone what they need to grab. And, so that I remember, because without fail, someone will ALWAYS approach me in the locker room asking what they need to set up.

6. Download music/create a playlist: I know Athena is well-known for the playlists she puts together (serious time, energy and thought goes into them- I’m always impressed!), but I am not interested in making my own (I’m not a music person and just not good at it), so I buy my playlists online. 32mix.com is my favorite place because you can pick a BPM (beats per minute) and download it to your computer after you purchase it. This is THE ONLY way for me to teach my kickboxing class because the beat is consistent throughout the whole CD so I never have to worry about losing it or waiting for a pause or a song change.

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7. Prep my outfit! Just like any other job, I think it’s important to look the part! I don’t think it’s professional for instructors to show up in crappy old baggy clothes- anyone else feel this way? Being in front of the room, giving instructions and demos means all eyes are on me, so I want to look and feel good (which usually ends up in me buying crazy amounts of Lululemon….).

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8. Show up early: I never, ever like the feeling of being late or rushing, so I always leave my house plenty early to make sure I don’t get stuck in traffic or looking for a parking spot. I like to take my time getting dressed and ready for class so I would much rather be there a half hour early and have time to spare. This also helps to make sure my stuff is all set up and I’ve tested out the mic and CD player to make sure everything is working and ready for me to start class on time.

9. Give the class an overview of what we will be doing that day so that they know what to expect: I like to know what I’m getting myself into when I go to a class so I go under the assumption that they like to know, too. Granted, if I’m teaching UXF Burn or Cardio Kickboxing I don’t always give an overview since those are standard classes.

10. Leave all my problems at the door: Regardless of what happened to me that day that might have put me in a bad mood, I have to check that at the door because I need to be on my A game during class without being distracted about various things.

And, when all else fails and there simply isn’t time to make a new workout, I just reuse a workout I may have taught a few months ago. Even though I remember it and feel like others were, I can almost guarantee no one else even notices that the workout isn’t new. In fact, I think when I reuse combos in my kickboxing classes my members actually like it because they feel like they know what we’re doing. I forget that most people thrive off of consistency, hence why people like BodyPump, Zumba, UXF Burn, R.I.P.P.E.D., etc. so much- you learn the workouts, remember them and can go into class knowing exactly what to expect. I, on the other hand, hate doing the same thing from one class to the next (unless it’s Zumba!) and find myself bored if I know exactly what’s coming next. To each their own, though!

I want to hear from you! Instructor friends- what’s one thing you do to prep for classes? Gym goers- do you do anything to prep for a class? Ie: get their early to save “your spot”? Do you like to know what you’re going to be doing in class or be surprised?

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4 thoughts on “10 Things I do to prepare to teach a class {A non-workout variation of “Wednesday Workout”}

  1. Kim says:

    Way back when I taught, I did my plans in those same sheet protectors – made it easy to keep a binder and just pull out what I needed and the plastic kept me from sweating on my plan!!!

  2. Suzanne Gagnon says:

    Hi Nick, I’m hardly the person to comment on your workout prep, BUT, I do know the type of person you are, and the things you do to get ready are so typical of you!! As a participant, I think I’m pretty flexible about subs–it’s tough when you are expecting a dance-type of class, and it turns out to be a totally different type of class, however. I never get to class early enough to have my “spot”, but I do like to be in the front, close to the action. Mom

    • Burpees to Bubbly says:

      I totally feel you when you say you don’t like to be surprised with a sub that teaches and entirely different format class- that would drive me crazy! I, too, like to have my spot in the front!

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