So I'm currently dying after teaching dance fitness for the day in a local school for their 'Health Awareness Day'.... I had Year 1s -Year 4s doing Zumba andYear 7’s-Year10’s doing Hype which is my street dance fitness concept. It made me start thinking about all of the weapons and heavy artillery you gain over the years from teaching.
I stood there today in front of 120 5-7 year olds and not for one second did I think 'Holy Crap what am I going to do with this many children'. Similarly, I just had 60 kids age 14-15 who were mildly unexcited about the prospect of a little dance fitness. I remember how I felt when I first started teaching and I would have been a little overwhelmed with so much noise and so many people in one room. With time, however, you build up what can only be described as a library of heavy weaponry that you can whip out of the bag at a moment’s notice. It’s like flicking through a mental notebook until you find the suitable piece of knowledge that you know is a game changer for this group.
This is the thing. It takes YEARS to build up your artillery and more years to put them into practice enough times to know what is more likely to work with which different audience. For example, teens, where I live, are NOT going to do things that you might be able to get groups in different areas to do. Likewise, I don't rock up to a cover class with the same playlist that I do for my class at my own venue. You have to react to the group that you have in front of you to give yourself the best chance at success and let's be honest, your best chance of not being eaten alive.
Participants can be brutal - teenagers, for example, make sure you know if they don’t want to do something..... but it's not limited to kids. I remember turning up for a cover class at a local leisure centre, waiting in the corridor outside with some of the members. One turned to me and said "I hope you are good because ##### is amazing'. For those of you that know me, I have almost zero filters at the best of times let alone when I’m enraged and in my best jovial tone out popped "Well luckily for you I'm f*cking awesome" and I smiled sweetly and carried on talking. The thing is, I didn’t particularly think I was f*cking awesome if I’m honest, but I’m a big believer in faking it ‘til you make it and this was going to be no exception. In I went and put in 100% and walked out with my head held high and them offering me a full-time class. Which I didn't take because let's be honest, I hold a grudge.
And this is my point. People are going to make you question yourself, you are going to have your confidence dented from time to time, you are going to have to teach when you feel like crying and when you wish you hadn't said yes to that particular job/class. However, we have a job that requires us to suck it up, get on within and get out that big bag of dance fitness weapons and choose which one is going to get us (and our participants) through the class having as much fun as humanly possible.
So for new instructors, and in fact all instructors, it's something I'm constantly reflecting on.....what have you got in your bag of tricks and how can you make it bigger. It can be as easy as brainstorming, checking out class plans and ideas online, getting together with friends and swopping info, doing a course here or there. Whatever it is, one of the keys to a long career in this game is swopping your mini rucksack for a giant holdall and smashing through whatever your class can throw at you. We are group exercise ninjas.... thinking on the job, constantly in stealth mode changing things as we go, reacting to what's in front of us, occasionally throwing a grenade at the rude ones but generally just smashing the sh*t out of sweat. Group ex-instructors you rule!