Tutorial #2767

The 'It' Factor

15 min - Tutorial


How do you move from being a good teacher to a great teacher? In this tutorial, John Garey shares what he looks for when he is hiring instructors. He explains what the "It" factor is and how you can use this to be your best.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, you can read John's e-book.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

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Oct 02, 2016
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Hello everybody. I'm John Gary and I am about to talk to you about what we call the it factor. So I recently did a video book called moving from good to great. It's a [inaudible] and fitness professionals guide to being the best and I've split it up into eight different chapters and one of the chapters was called the it factor. And I want to talk to you a little bit about that because a lot of instructors I think are looking for a way to make their mark and to improve and to get better.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience and what I think it takes to be the best in teaching. So I've been hiring instructors, I've for about the last 25 years, I've worked at some of the best fitness facilities and [inaudible] facilities around the country. And for the last 15 years, uh, I've owned my own Pilati studio in Long Beach, California. And I have been hiring instructors, uh, for those 25 years. I have also been traveling the world and teaching instructors and watching instructors and presenters teach. And I think one of my best talents is picking really good talent to work for me.

So I want to give you one of the secrets that of the things that I look for when I am hiring people, and I call it the it factor. So you'll know when you take a class there'll be instructors that you'll say, wow, that was a really good class, I really enjoyed that. And then there'll be other instructors that completely wow you that blow you away and you try to figure out what is it about that person that makes them so good. One of the things that I think it is is called the it factor. Now the it factor is super hard to define.

I can tell you what it isn't and you can probably tell me what it is and as well, but let's try to talk about a little bit of what that includes. One of the things, I think the primary things that it includes is letting your personality show when you teach and not everybody is comfortable with that in a group setting. So what I say is figure out who you are and let your personality shine. When you teach, you're probably good. You want to be good before you can be great, right? So, and part of being good is knowing what you teach, being really articulate what you teach and being able to explain it to a group that makes you good.

What makes you great is letting your personality shine through with that and letting people see who you are, connecting with them, uh, teaching to the entire room. So let's talk about that for a second. You want to be, some instructors are really strong. Okay? They are very strong instructors and they come off as really, that's one way, uh, that somebody can wow the group. Okay. They take command of the group, they let everybody know what's going on. You have other instructors who are super positive. That's the thing.

You go in and you just feel amazing when you take their class. Some people are attracted to the stronger instructors, some people are attracted to the more positive instructor. And then you have the encouraging instructor, the one that's always cheering you on to the cheerleader. And some people are attracted to that. So you're going to find that some people find the it factor with one instructor and some find it with the other instructor.

The main thing is that you figure out who you are and what type of instructor you are and you make that shine. So that's kind of my first point. My second point is probably one of the most important things that I tell my new instructors. Don't fake it and don't steal somebody else's personality because what'll happen is you'll go and take from a presenter or an instructor and you'll think they're the most amazing thing. I'm going to teach just like them, when really what you try to do is be them. So you'll walk in, you'll say the same phrases, you'll teach the exact same choreography, you'll do everything that they do. And that might work for you for a little while, but eventually people kind of figure out that that's not really you. So you're in a sense faking it and you need to show your personality.

So you don't want to be the best representation of somebody else. You want to be the best rep representation of you. So faking it is not the it factor. The next point I want to make is you need to ask yourself is group training really for me? And you may be teaching for a while and you may be really uncomfortable in that mode and you may think, okay, let me give it one more try, let me try this, let me try that. Let me push forward. And at some point you need to say, okay, maybe this isn't right for me.

And I think a lot of people are afraid to do that and it's important to do that. It's important to understand who you really are. Maybe you're a person that really is comfortable one-on-one working with privates but not really comfortable teaching a group. And that's okay because a lot of people who are really great at teaching groups don't enjoy one-on-one and it shows, so you want to find where your niche is. What are you good at and ask yourself, is teaching groups really for me? If it is, then just open up and let your personality show and you're going to start to attract a crowd and if you can attract that crowd and keep them coming, you've got it.

The next thing is meet and greet, so I'm going to talk a little bit about one of my favorite instructors. He worked for me until just a couple of weeks ago and now he's moved out of the area and he worked for me for eight years. He had the ability to grab people, pull them in and make everybody feel like they were at home with him and it was really simple how he did it. When he came to teach for us eight years ago, he came into the studio and he met everybody. I called them the Walmart greeter. He would sit in the lobby, he would meet everybody that came in. He would ask their name and he would ask it again if he didn't remember it and you would ask it again until he remembered it and he called everybody by name.

He invited them to take his class. And then when they took his class, he thanked them for coming. He knew them by name of their family members. I mean he found out about those people and that was his thing. He created a unity. He created a community and a family within that, within that studio that we have. And I'll tell you when he left, we threw him a big bash and people came from everywhere to tell him how much they appreciated him. And it was so cool to see cause you knew right then he had the it factor. So fun to watch for me. Okay, so next you want to make sure that you are teaching to the back of the room.

So a lot of instructors, this happens a lot in group classes, people, your favorites and people who are your favorite are gonna and their favorite are going to be right in that front row working out with you. They're right there, especially if you're teaching PyLadies. They've got their mats right there with you. If you're teaching reformer, they take the reformer closest to where you always are teaching. And you know they sometimes can absorb all of the attention you're giving and demand all of the attention you're giving. And then the people in the back row, those people who are shy, who don't know you yet, who are new to the class, they don't get it right. They sit back there and they don't get the attention that the front row is getting. So you need to teach to the back row. Not only that, you need to teach to every row in between. It's so important for you to let that person personality out and also let it fill the room so that every single person that walks through that door has a great experience. If you can do that, you've got it.

The next thing is have fun. You need to love what you're doing. You need to really, really love it and you need to let that show. You need to be positive. And if you make a mistake, and I learned this along the way, own up to it, don't try to fake it and pretend that it didn't happen. Make it, make light of it, correct it so that you don't do it again and then move on. Don't stay harping on it or you can't believe you did that or whatever. Just boom, fix it, move on.

It makes you look professional and it also makes you look human. People really can identify with somebody who isn't perfect and trust me, people will put you up on a pedestal, especially as you teach them and you're helping change their body and you're helping make them feel good every day. And it's easy to sit up on that pedestal, but be careful because that pedestal can easily get knocked over. So be real and don't expect people to like you, earn it, go out there and earn it. The next thing is to inspire people. This is one of my favorite things about teaching is that you don't even know half the time when you're inspiring someone.

If you're letting your personality showing you're teaching a great class, they might not tell you, they might not tell you for weeks or months or years, but one day they walk in and they tell you how much you changed their life or what effect you had on them when they came to take your class. But you didn't know that when you were doing it. So every single time you walk into a class know that there could be somebody in that room that you're affecting, that you're changing. And if you go in there with that attitude, you have it, man, you are going to adjust. You're going to be there. You're going to be present in that class.

So think of this phrase, praise craze. So phrase, think of phrases that mean something to you and that you think will mean something to the class. Use phrases that you know, make catch phrases if you will, or things. And not all the time, not not just off the cuff and just to say things, but think about the moment. You'll know when the moment is right to say something, to help boost someone up. And praise. People love to know when they're doing things well, not just when they're doing things incorrectly. So point out how well people are doing when they're doing the exercise.

If you need to correct someone, make sure that you're taking the time to also praise them for things that they're doing well so they don't feel called out in class. That way everyone feels your love, everyone feels your respect. The next thing is craze in that, in that saying, and by craze I don't mean like go absolutely off the wall, but it's okay to have a little fun to laugh a little bit to uh, you know, pick on somebody who you really know or really like in a fun way and make sure that everyone knows that it's in a fun way. But don't be afraid to get a little zany sometimes and just have some fun with the group and make sure that it has that community feeling. And it's not just the teacher standing up there telling everybody what they know and how they should act. It's more inclusive that way.

And finally my eighth point on this is bring it every time, and I talked about this a little bit before, but whether it's two people in that class or 20 people in that class, or 200 people in that class, you need to bring it every time because two people turns into 2020 people turns into 200 if you know every time you're giving it your all, you're leaving your baggage at the door so that you can go in and help everybody. Have a great day. You've got it. Thanks for listening.


I really enjoyed this talk John, thank you. I have a class in an hour and a half and will be putting your inspiring advice into play!
1 person likes this.
Now that was inspiring!! thank you John
4 people like this.
thanks John, -
one thing is for sure : YOU got it!
loved it!
1 person likes this.
Yes! Thank you so much John and yes you got it!!
1 person likes this.
Great Charisma, John! You definitely got it !!!
2 people like this.
Wow, I feel so inspired after watching this video; thank you!
4 people like this.
I watched this last night before bed, and been thinking on it all day. It was just what I needed a good pep talk. I've been on the fence lately about getting back out in a public setting and teach group again.. its been years. I teach privately from home and lately have felt like maybe I have put myself in a small box. i do miss the interaction with other teachers and feel isolated on occasion.. but i gear towards one on ones. So you really have me thinking. i have an interview this week in a studio and am so nervous about teaching in public again!! thanks for words of inspiration John. I think i need your book!
4 people like this.
Hard to speak of the "it" factor unless you have it, and clearly you do! I love teaching Pilates and you just re-enforced that for me. Thank you John, you're awesome!!
3 people like this.
Wonderful!!! I completely agree!!!!
4 people like this.
I think all instructors should listen to this. I would like to see more instructors give their definition of the 'it' factor.
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