Would you consider yourself an 'expert' group fitness instructor? Before you answer that question, let's first take a look at how Wikipedia defines an expert: "someone who has a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In general, someone with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation in a particular area of study."
By definition, this narrows it down to two key components when it comes to being considered an expert: intense experience through practice and education.
Practice is simply putting what you've learned into action. It's what the fitness industry refers to as 'practical' learning and application. For a certified group fitness instructor, it's either attending a live workshop or leading a class. The second component, which is arguably just as important (if not more), is education, otherwise known as 'theoretical' learning. 'Theoretical' learning occurs in a lecturetype setting, either through a live certification course or an online program.
What's one way to help get your Agame when it comes to mastering your skillset as a group fitness instructor? Take other 'expert' instructor's live workshops and classes. It's a great way to learn from the best and to get a different perspective.
Pay close attention to everything that is going on from the introduction to the music, energy, cueing, and engagement (how the instructor connects with the members by walking around the studio, making eye contact, and the words they are using) with the participants. You'd be surprised how many 'golden nuggets' are there for the taking, even if you don't teach the same format or group fitness category. You will find parts that resonate stronger than others while getting immediate feedback at the same time. And even if you don't teach the same format, it doesn't mean there's no value from the session. More on this later.
However, one word of advice when it comes to teaching your classes (online or in-person): be YOURSELF. All of those 'golden nuggets' that you are taking away can be shared, but you need to deliver your personality to the participants. Be authentic and don't try to be someone else's clone.
A group fitness instructor should always have the mindset of being a student of the industry. They owe it to not only themselves, but also the members who participate in their classes. It's the instructor's professional responsibility to know the industry's most current and trending programs, scientific philosophies, and methodologies.
Here are some standard educational practices that you can do to help build your reputation as an 'expert' group fitness instructor:
1. Read industry publications
AFAA and NASM's quarterly publication, American Fitness, is a digital magazine that contains informative articles covering a wide variety of health and wellness topics written by some of the industry's top experts.
2. Attend at least one fitness convention a year
AFAA and NASM's Optima Conference is a great event to attend. There are over 100 educational sessions and workshops led by Master Instructors and experts in fitness and wellness.
3. Invest in continued education
Keep up with the latest info and trends in the industry by attending workshops and getting additional certifications or specializations. You not only expand your knowledge, but you can increase your earning potential by offering additional services or teaching other group fitness formats.
Don't become a onedimensional instructor. The more you learn and diversify your knowledge, the stronger the 'expert' you become.