Pole Instructors, Check Your Egos at the Door
I recently completed my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) Group Fitness Certification. I have been a fitness instructor for over two years now so I decided it was a good certification to officially have. I learned how to calculate a student’s maximum heart rate and determine one’s health-related risks when engaging in a workout. There were detailed charts of human skeletal and muscular structure in the textbook. I found no information more valuable, however, than one chapter buried towards the back of the book. It broke down the construction of a typical class, why certain movements should be avoided as well as why others should be encouraged. Most fascinating for me was the discussion of the psychology behind what elements make a class memorable and one that students will want to revisit time and time again.
This does not mean that instructors should hold back in sufficiently demonstrating moves. It does mean that variations should be given for all abilities. The bottom line is that your students look up to you as a mentor. If you perform a certain stretch or strength move in warm-up, they will always want to mirror the variation you are performing. You shouldn’t use improper form, but this isn’t the time to show off your overspilt. This should be a time when you look around the room and evaluate everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.
I have taken class with incredibly talented and seasoned instructors well above my pay grade. You know what I respect most in them? When they are honest and humble. I recall a recent pole class where a decorated competitor was teaching and a student requested a specific move. The instructor was not familiar with this particular trick and had never tried it herself. She admitted that she probably wasn’t best suited to demonstrate the move due to her lack of back flexibility. (Not every move is meant to be performed by everybody!) She got that student up on the pole though and talked her through it. She spotted her and gave her constructive feedback after a few semi-sucessful attempts. You know what? That student got the move by the end of class, one the instructor could not even execute herself. That is what being a great teacher is truly about, helping your students succeed.