Touch Me in the Morning? 25 Habits of Amazing Fitness Instructors

reach-out-and-touch-me recently posted a blog post titled “25 Habits of Amazing Fitness Instructors.”

You can find the post containing the detailed list here.  I tend to agree with most of the list, but a few of their points stuck out to me and had me saying, “really?”  I enjoy reading these types of posts because I really like group exercise classes, especially spinning. A few months ago, I wrote about 5 things I’d like to tell my spin teachers – so finding this article was timely.

Here is the complete list, but I’ve only included descriptions with the points I disagree with.  I’ve also added my comments.

1. Arrive Early.

2. Own the room from minute 1.

3. Hook up your iPod before class starts.

4. Touch me.

I’m not just talking about corrections (that’s No. 16). I’m talking about using physical contact to make a connection. One of my favorite spin teachers always touches students’ hands as he walks by their bikes, and I’ve had some yoga teachers touch the small of my back or my shoulder while introducing themselves. It’s the best.

BUT: If you’re going to do this, it has to be natural. If you’re not a touchy person to begin with, don’t force it.

Say what?  I’m fine with a correction involving a touch once in awhile (especially in yoga) when it’s necessary, but please don’t touch me during a spin class unless I’m about to seriously injure myself.  The last thing I want to feel is someone making contact with my sweaty hand or arm while I’m working like an animal.

5. Make an extra effort to keep the energy high in a small class.

6. Encourage me to meet my neighbor.

I’m not naturally a meet-people-in-class kind of person, so I always enjoy when instructors require us to make that connection. Here are a few strategies I’ve liked.

  • Pairing us up with a neighbor for a two-person exercise.
  • Asking us to “turn and tell your neighbor how amazing they’re doing” or “give your neighbor a high five.”
  • Asking half the class to do something high-intensity while the other half cheers, and vice versa.

Okay, no.  This isn’t kindergarden, I don’t need to learn how to make friends.  If you come to class regularly, you’ll get to know your neighbors.  Whenever I’ve tried the “partnering” in class, I’ve always felt completely self-conscious and embarrassed, and it’s ruined my endorphin high.

7. Curse (sometimes).

Within reason, I’m a huge fan of a well-inserted profanity. It’s a great sign of confidence and another way to cue desired intensity. But use only when appropriate (AKA, maybe don’t tell us to “calm the f*ck down” in savasana).

Meh, I’m not sure how I feel about this either.  While I like instructors who are screamers (what can I say, if I were a guy, I’d want to join the military…), I think profanity’s taking it a bit far.  Plus, I don’t know about you, but the profanity that goes through my mind when I’m working out is completely inappropriate for sharing with an entire room full of people, aka “Fuck me!!!!”

8. Find a great catch phrase.

9. Make the class relevant.

10. Be excited about your playlist.

11. Put fresh music in my earholes.

12. Match the music to the beat.

13. Don’t ask me, tell me.

14. Recover gracefully from mistakes.

15. Encourage noise.

16. Correct the sh*t out of me, no matter my level.

Everyone can be better. Coming to me with corrections (GOOD corrections) instantly earns my trust that you actually know anatomy and understand what you’re doing (and what I’m doing wrong).

I understand and appreciate corrections, but within reason.  No one wants to be constantly singled out during class.  On the other hand, if someone is doing harm to themselves by positioning themselves incorrectly — please, intervene!

17. Remove the mic when giving me said corrections.

18. Show love to your colleagues.

19. Give me a high five.

Literally. I just love high fives. And fist bumps. And magic fingers. Spread that goon-city energy.

No.  This isn’t Richard Simmons.

20. Catch me being good.

Notice when I self-correct/get deeper/work harder and call me out in approval. Call me out when I didn’t realize you were watching me. It’s a double whammy: positive reenforcement and a reminder that you’re always watching.

This is tough, because I’ve had a spin teacher kind of smile and praise me while I was doing a good job and yes, it does feel good.  However, I prefer the pack mentality of a class, especially a spin class, and I don’t really prefer that to be broken up that frequently.

21. Make eye contact.

22. Learn my name, and use it.

Everyone loves to hear their name, especially when attached to a compliment. It’s a true skill to remember names, but it can be honed (there are a lot of brain-training games that can help).

No.  I don’t know about you, but this whole totally embarrass me.  For me, I feel like even if I’m performing particularly well during a class, there’s always a chance that I’ll blow it and feel exhausted within the next ten minutes.  Therefore, if you draw attention to me and praise me, by name, no less, I’ll feel performance anxiety going forward because I’ll feel like people are watching me.  I feel like as long as you know I’m doing well, and as long as I know that you know that I know I’m doing well, we’re okay.  Did that make sense?

23. Embrace the potentially embarassing side effects of your class.

24. Develop an end-of-class ritual.

All in all, this is a great list of habits, and as you can see, most of them really are (or should be) incorporated into every instructor’s routine.  But not all of them.

How are you?  Are there things your teachers do that drive you crazy, or habits you’d love them to adopt?  

Categories: Health

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7 replies

  1. I take 4 group exercise classes a week and all of them are female teachers. I do have one that uses my name in a sentence a lot. She’s a crack up alright. Yes, I’ve been touched by one of them. It’s just a sign that they care about me. I was talking to one of them and it was infront of the people that work at the gym. Anyways, she put her hand on my arm and she rubbed and squeezed it.

    • Well touching outside of the class is one thing. I’m friends with a few of my instructors and I understand having a casual conversation and touching someone’s arm or hugging someone if you haven’t seen them in awhile. I think what they are referring to here is when instructors are overly-touchy during a class. That makes me uncomfortable.

  2. Adjustments are different than touching just to be “touchy.” I completely understand what you mean!

  3. I’m glad. Don’t get me wrong my teacher Kelly is an awesome teacher. It’s just that I wish she’d pay attention to her students. You think that she notices how I walk and how to help with different ideas. I always find myself motating back to what I’ve learned from my teacher Jackie. When I see her again on Sat, I’m going to see if there are any stretches that I could do to help that. It gets so frustrating.

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