GroupX: The Successful Class

Inspiration can be found anywhere, even in your group exercise class.  What attracts members to a certain class over another, correlates with the instructor’s character and their ability to motivate, orchestrate and develop a community within their class.

This is a process.

Participating in many group exercise classes, as well as instructing spin classes myself, I have seen great classes that impact students and some that fall flat and are frankly a waste of everyone’s time.

Being relatively new to instructing, I decided to get to the bottom of what makes a class go from a total mess to a success.

Some instructors are battling with their own introverted battle amidst the boisterous and sometimes chaotic profession of group exercise.  Accepting feedback from their participants, as well as attending professional development workshops, instructors have been able to refine their craft.

Ron Benbow, personal exercise physiologist and a group exercise instructor at Oakland University, has been instructing for seven years.

He says to really connect with your students is to set a safe, reassuring environment right from the beginning.  Ensuring your participants that they are in your best interests, is a great way to gain their trust.  Through trust, will encourage honest feedback and hopefully they will feel comfortable enough to dish out what they really think of you.

Remember, if you’re not authentic neither will your students.  Benbow has valued the importance of authenticity which can only be practiced if you have confidence in your character.

“To be authentic, you need to be comfortable within,” says Benbow.

He has noticed that his security in character has allowed him to approach participants gracefully and confidently, as he asks questions to find out more about them.  By displaying a genuine interest in the individual, this helps to break the ice and begin to build a meaningful relationship.

Relationships between you and your students is vital for your class success.  Strangers have taken time out of their day to spend an hour with you.  Your class was their first priority when they could have been doing one of the million other fit fads that are swarming around these days.  Respect that and use their willingness to reach out to you as an invitation to reach out to them.

“It is a supportive environment, it’s structured, it’s safe and it boosts self-esteem, says Benbow.  “It empowers people to do more.”

Recognizing his strengths, Benbow has sought to enhance his ability to connect with others by researching Emotional Intelligence.  He attributes his heightened confidence, through exploring the benefits of EI, which has allowed Benbow to establish common ground with strangers in a non-threatening and effective way.

Group exercise can be an opportunity for instructors to impact so many lives long term in a positive way.  Having the willingness to explore who you are as an instructor, a communicator and an overall individual will help stoke this confidence; a confidence that will allow you to present the best, most authentic version of yourself to a world who is too, fighting for a better and stronger life.  If you are interested in becoming a certified group exercise instructor, you are in for a rewarding experience.

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