Two months ago I wrote a post about teaching my very first pilates class (I almost missed the start time due to a communication error- yikes!). Over the last two months I’ve really fallen in love with teaching both mat and barre classes, and I thought I would share some of my initial thoughts on teaching.

I’ve learned the importance of preparation… especially at first. For both class formats I wrote out a list of exercises, including an ideal order to do them in. I did two run throughs of each class type before I ever taught. I felt like an idiot, but I talked out loud in my living room so I could practice cueing and everything. It worked, because it felt pretty natural by the time my first class came around.

MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC (especially with barre). With my mat class I have soft instrumental music playing in the background, but I’ve never felt that music is critical for a mat class. HOWEVER, this is completely the opposite in barre class. Music is critical, and the different “moves” and positions have to be choreographed to the beat of the music. This took a good amount of time at first, as I had to learn the rhythms that each exercise at the barre needs. When I listen to the radio now, I am also visualizing the moves and counting the beats. I keep a list going on a note on my phone and shazam music like crazy so that I can add it to various lists later. It’s always good to do a run through of the song too before trying it in class!

Warm up! I actually run my class through a 3-4 minute warm up routine that is standard for the barre class (I use it in mat too), and I do the warm up with them. If I don’t do that warm up, then I get to class early to try to warm myself up a bit. This is helpful in avoiding injury or strain when demoing a move later in the class.

Bring water to class! This is a no brainer for barre class, but mat pilates isn’t an intense work out in the way the barre is, so I thought I didn’t need water. However, talking for that hour (especially talking while doing the specific exercise) makes me thirsty! I’ve started bringing a water bottle each week and this has been helpful.

ENCOURAGE! I don’t ever want to be that fitness instructor who is at all degrading or critical. People tend to have a strong enough critical voice inside. This doesn’t mean that I don’t correct form (obviously I want them to stay safe and get the most benefits from their exercise), but I try to add encouragements throughout the hour. I make note of things they are struggling with, and if I see them improve, I make sure to mention it to them.

Like I said, I really enjoy teaching both the mat and barre classes. Just as with counseling, I love watching people grow, change, and become stronger than they were initially. It’s so cool to see the “click” happen and they pull everything together and do a move really well. It’s rough waking up so early twice a week, but no matter how little sleep I get, I’m always excited once I walk in that room. There’s so much energy in the class, and I leave smiling each class!

This has certainly been a surprise to me. When 2013 started, I hadn’t even considered doing any instructor training or teaching, but these are the moments that add little surprises to life, right?

Now it’s your turn to share! What do you value most in a fitness instructor? Do you do pilates or barre classes?