As a group fitness instructor, you will be asked to sub a class at some point. This can be exciting and frustrating all at the same time. I still go through those feelings when covering someone’s class. It’s totally normal to feel different types of emotions when you are helping another instructor out.
Here are a couple of aspects of subbing you will run into:
- Different Students
Leading a class with students you are not familiar with can be stressful. You don’t know how they are going to react to your style of teaching. Even for pre-choreographed formats, every instructor has a different method for how they conduct their classes. The students in the regular instructor’s class are accustomed to that instructor’s type of teaching. People tend to not like change and you teaching their normal class is a change. Change is good though, and it will improve both the students and you at the end of the day.
It’s possible not everyone is going to like your method of teaching and that’s perfectly OKAY. Everyone has different tastes. That DOES NOT make you a bad instructor. It just means your style may not be for that specific person.
The benefit to teaching new students is that you give the people more visibility of who you are as a teacher and you get more experience instructing various demographics of people. Think of seeing all these new faces as a way to also meet new prospective students.
f you find yourself still feeling frustrated, try to focus on the participants who do appreciate the time and effort who put in to help out their main instructor.
- Different Locations
You may have to sub a class at a facility other than your normal teaching location. This is sometimes difficult because you’re not sure what to expect when you get there. One way to prepare is to be equipped with the tools you keep in your gym bag in case of emergencies. Check out my post on some key items to have with you for these types of situations. Also check with the instructor who asked you to sub if there is anything additional you may need to bring. Not only ask them about what is necessary to teach, but feel free to inquire about a typical class. This will provide you with background information so you feel ready to go.
Get there a little bit earlier than you might normally show up to a class. You’ll have more time to get acquainted with the location…not feeling rushed will help alleviate any extra stress.
Although figuring out a new facility’s set up is challenging, once you’ve done so you’ll have more knowledge on a variety of systems for future reference.
We have to take the good with the bad; this allows us to learn something from each experience. Whenever I sub, I usually leave with more insight into some aspect of teaching. For example, having to find a new way to cue the same move in order for different people to follow. It expanded my perspective on the cues to use when teaching. I’ve had one instructor even tell me that she uses subbing as a means of easing the “burnt out” feeling we instructors get. (If you’re starting to feel it check out my post on how to get out of that phase link to burn out phase post).
So, try to find the positive in subbing and also keep in mind you are helping another instructor out…and you might need the favor returned in the future.