What Can You Expect From Your Fitness Instructor?

Group fitness instructors come in all shapes, sizes and personalities.  Some can dance, some look good in the latest fitness fashions, some are good cheerleaders, some are inspirational coaches, some are all of the above.  So when looking for a class, what should you expect from your instructor?  Here are ten characteristics of a great instructor from the most reliable source…Facebook. 

1) Knowledge.  A great instructor is educated.  They know their stuff.  They have dedicated time and money to know more about health, fitness and how to motivate a room full of people.  A nationally recognized certification is a must.  An instructor certified by an organization such as ACE, ACSM, AFAA or NSCA has proven themselves to have a working knowledge of fitness and how to safely teach it.

2) Confidence.  A great instructor will walk into the room and everyone will know who is in charge.  They will be confident in their word and actions, and confident in their students.  They will face the class and move around the room to interact with everyone present.  They are “other” focused, as opposed to “self” focused.  In short, a great instructor will “bring it”.

3) Preparation.  A great instructor shows up with a plan.  They have taken time to plan out the music, the theme of class, and the exercises.  They get to class early enough to set up everything they need, and have time to talk to newcomers.  They carry extra batteries, mic covers and a spare water bottle in their gym bag, just in case someone forgets one. 

4) Commitment.  A great instructor shows commitment to his students by being consistent.  They show up.  They continue their education.  They are always looking for new ways to motivate.  They are in this business of fitness for the long haul.  And it shows in the results their students see.

5) Fun.  A great instructor knows that everyone in that class could be on a treadmill.  Or in front of a TV.  But they chose to come to class for a better experience.  My favorite teachers make it so much fun to be in their class, I can’t stand the thought of skipping.  I might miss something! 

6) Variety.  A great instructor mixes it up.  There is never one class exactly like another.  The music changes, the routine changes, the way the students face changes.  Great instructors challenge their students to get out of their ruts and try new things.  And then they celebrate together!

7) Awareness.  A great instructor knows what is going on in class, whether they have seven students, or seventy.  They keep a keen eye on the back row, without calling attention to those who may feel self-conscious about being there.  They watch for things that may be unsafe, and give subtle corrections.  They also watch for those who can push harder and give not-so-subtle “suggestions”.

8) Modifications.  Almost everyone in my informal Facebook survey named this as a top priority.  A great instructor will have several options in her back pocket for each exercise.  Each student, with her own strengths and limitations will leave class feeling successful if the instructor gives modifications.  They make fitness accessible to everyone.

9) Acceptance.  A great instructor creates an environment of acceptance.  They know that building a community is important because if a student feels a sense of belonging, they will keep coming back. 

10) Love.  A great instructor knows that they have a gift to share.  They have a passion for vibrant, healthy living and they can’t wait to pass that on to the people who fill their classes.  They lead their workouts with love for the people in the room, knowing that those people will pass on the love to their friends and family.  A great instructor knows that a room full of people sweating and smiling together is the beginning of a better world.

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    1. thank you so much for this Denise. I have always had a passion for this industry but have been unsure about where I belong. I have now realized that I am in in for the long haul and have since changed my major to fitness leadership from a ele ed major. I owe a lot to you and your inspirations. I consider you a great mentor in this industry and feel so fortunate that I got to co teach that yoga class with you. Not only did if give me my start but I got to know a great lady that continues to inspire me in my passion of fitness.


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