What Makes a Good Group Fitness Instructor

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(Photo source: Wiki Commons)

I have taken many a fitness class, some at my gym, some in community centres. What keeps me coming back to a class? It can be a number of things. One huge factor is the instructor who is leading the class. Sometimes I feel bad for a new instructor, or a sub. When the regular instructor is so good and dynamic, his/her absence is really missed, and many class participants (including myself) at times don’t want to give the sub/new instructor a chance or even decide to skip the class until the regular instructor returns. I have stopped doing this because I’ve come to discover that many subs are great at their job of leading a class. I have also seen new or inexperienced instructors who start off a bit wobbly, but then really grow and bloom into the role. Let’s face it. It must be a little intimidating leading a class full of people.

Instructors also have their own styles. I used to really like a previous Zumba instructor on Saturday mornings. Her forte was Latin dance and Hip Hop, and she fused a lot of Urban groove into her Zumba class. When she stopped teaching the class, I wasn’t too keen on the new instructor’s style. She was classically trained in Jazz and ballet and her Zumba I found, was a lot more formal and less urban street. Many people liked the new instructor. It’s all a matter of taste.

There is one particular instructor named Maureen and the vote is unanimous. We love her classes. She teaches HIIT and cardio kickboxing and her classes are always full, and many agree she is a fantastic group fitness leader. What makes lady M so good?

1. She brings her personality to the class. Maureen has a great sense of humour and this comes out in her classes, whether she’s singing along to Pit Bull, or giving us each a high-five.  She makes us laugh through our challenges and brings a vibrant personality to the class. She likes teaching, and you just know she wants to be there.

2. She encourages us to try our best. A phrase Maureen uses often is, “focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.”  If we can only hold a 20 second plank, or a 10 second plank, she tells us not to worry if that is all we can do at the moment. She encourages us to be consistent and the goals will be met in time. If we can’t do a full 40 seconds of battle rope swings, she tells us not to worry, try again in the next round but don’t give up.

3. She welcomes all fitness levels to her class.  Maureen makes modifications for all fitness levels. If you cannot yet do a full push-up, she demonstrates from the knees. If you can’t do knee high jumps yet, she demonstrates fast-paced marching on the spot. All are encouraged and welcomed. At times, there are three different levels going on at once in her class. She takes the time to show modifications and stresses that we all must start somewhere.

4. She never just stays in the front of class. If we are doing a left hook, or a shuffle and upper cut, she will come right on the floor and circulate, doing the moves along side us. If she notices off form, she corrects us with safe and proper form. Her classes are always an interactive experience.

5. She changes her routine. Maureen’s HIIT class is always changing and evolving. She keeps us challenged and engaged. Her class is never boring or repetitious. From medicine balls, to battle ropes, to weighted sticks, she always has a fun, new way to make us sweat.

Thanks Maureen for all you do. You made me succeed at bear crawls when I wanted to give up.

What do you feel makes a good fitness instructor?

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14 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Group Fitness Instructor

  1. I really like some of my instructors. One is hilarious and always making jokes and my Zumba teacher is very funny always making sexy moves to the class and to the people outside the class also moving the class around in dance always helps so we are not always facing the same way. Variation makes me go back.

  2. I have several fitness instructors that I LOVE too! I’ve felt just like you when a sub shows up, but have been pleasantly surprised sometimes too. I really love instructors that push me way harder than I thought I could. There is nothing worse than going to a class that didn’t challenge me at all. I also love instructors that change things up, keep it interesting and have fun personalities.

    1. Those are great traits in an instructor. I think it’s so important to have someone push you to strive to improve. I found the same thing with subs. They have such a hard time with the regular instructor is absent.

  3. So incredible. I only take 1 fitness class, which is cardio kickboxing, very cool it is mentioned here. I have a wonderful instructor, very patient. It took me such a long time to get those combination moves, the jab, cross, hook and uppercut. Even though she taught a separate different class 15 minutes later after the one ended, she would spend most of that time helping me one on one with the moves. A great instructor. 🙂
    ~Carl~

    1. She sounds like a fantastic instructor, Carl. Patience is a such an important factor when teaching classes. Those jabs, upper cuts, hooks and speed bag combos can be confusing for sure! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found a class with a good instructor.

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