HOW TO AVOID BURNING OUT AS A GROUP EXERCISE INSTRUCTOR23 March 2012
As a group exercise instructor, it is very easy to get stuck into a routine, which can start to take its toll on you. Exercise is meant to be beneficial to the human body and allow us to grow stronger with every session, however if not organised wisely it could cause a regressive effect, which could have potentially damaging consequences.
We are all aware of the risks that overtraining can cause the body, and yet we often seem to glaze over the equally disastrous effect it can have on our businesses. As an exercise and group training instructor your body and your teaching skills are your business, they’re your income! If your class teaching schedule and daily demands start to be uncontrollable, your working benefits are sure to feel the strain. To have a popular, effective and well-reputed class following your class design, structure, choreography, music relations, innovation and clarity need to be continuously prepared for and developed to ensure that you remain on top of your game.
For every one hour class you teach there could have been several more spent on music playlist design or out sourcing, choreography planning, pre/post class administration, PR and, the most time consuming of all, practicing your routines and conditioning yourself to ensure you have the highest possible quality demonstration form/technique. This is why it has been stated before that the maximum number of classes you should entertain delivering each day is three, and that you should try to ensure a total of two complete rest days away from class delivery. This is still potentially 15 classes per week, without all the associated extra work needed to perform well.
The timetable of classes which you deliver each week needs to have enough diversity in it to keep both your body and mind fresh! In modern teaching styles it is now easier than ever to achieve this diversity, as there are so many different class styles and modalities on offer, ranging from conditioning classes to high impact cardio based classes and a huge selection of different styles of dance inspired classes. It would be unwise to deliver the same theme of class back to back everyday and every week, as we advise our class members and clients that they should aim to achieve balance in their training programmes (including elements of cardiovascular training, resistance training, flexibility training and skill focused training) whilst also making sure that they make time for (actually, make that plan for) specific rest periods.
Not enough rest leads to fatigue and in training breeds poor performance; this is identical to the responses experienced in class instruction – over exertion and lack of down time leads to poor delivery and it becomes very visible to your class members that your standards start to drop. Imagine trying to teach four super high intensity, high impact classes back to back; purely because your most popular class used to be this style. Not only would your knees and ankles very quickly start to deteriorate and cause a domino effect of associated injuries elsewhere in your body, but your physical tiredness would be very obvious by the second and third classes, let alone the fourth?!
Your freedom of imagination for keeping your routines innovative and fresh would suffer and people would start to see a lack of progression in your class planning; and the most dangerous result would be that you start to dislike teaching these classes and start to dread class bookings.
Your personality, passion and ability to act as a positive role model is massively emphatic in helping others enjoy exercising; along with your skills and noticeable preparation people will look forward to taking part in the classes you teach. Your class members should want to feel like you feel, your energy is infectious and so we can start to see that if you start to lose some of this your ability to motivate, instruct and inspire groups of exercisers is massively affected.
Try alternating the classes you teach, have a conditioning focused class, a high impact, intense class follow this and then a different style again (for example a studio cycling class or a dance inspired class). Also consider filling up more hours with a less demo heavy class like circuit training or a boot camp session to work alongside these – here is where you can start to build up your working week further as the classes are less choreographed, less specific and also require less participation from the instructor. You can afford to deliver more 1-2-1 personal teaching time and not suffer so much physically in these style of classes.
Another tip would be to avoid doing three days back to back of the same activity, this is a super fast track to over training. In the training world, a similar example to this would be performing a bodybuilding split routine which involved Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all on chest, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday on shoulders and triceps only; it is clear to see the lack of balance here and the extreme lack of suitable resting – so why do we so often follow a completely unbalanced, over subscribed teaching schedule?! If you over stress the body, we know that a chemical imbalance is only a stone’s throw away, and this is when everything starts to suffer, from your ability to recover and adapt, to progressing your physical prowess and to stabilise your emotions and mood.
As a passionate and caring instructor your classes need to be clear at all times, you must show great strong demo form, and you should inspire others. Your number one selling point is you, your body and your personality – don’t mess it up!