Tutorial #2876

What Makes a Good Teacher

15 min - Tutorial


Before you can become a great teacher, first you need to be good. In this tutorial, John Garey shares eight things he has found that good instructors from all over have in common. These tools will give you a solid foundation so you can start to become the great instructor you were meant to be!

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

About This Video

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Dec 18, 2016
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Hello everyone. I'm John Gary and I am thrilled to be back on Peloton anytime. The last time I was here I talked about one of the chapters in my video ebook, a, the book is called moving from good to great a fitness professionals guide to being the best. And the last time I was here, the chapter that I discussed was the it factor. So if you have a chance to check it out, it's a good one to start with. Today I'm going to take a little bit of a different path and we know that being great is really important, but you can't move from being good to great if you're not good.

So today's chapter is how not to suck and it is funny but it's also really important. So I want to talk about eight points or eight things that I have found, uh, with instructors all over the country and really all over the world that really help make someone a good instructor, a solid instructor. And that's where you want to start. If you think about it in terms of PyLadies, the first thing you really learn about in employees are the principles and you, no matter what you're teaching, you always have those principles in mind. You're always adhering to the principles.

And when you do that and you teach movement, you free yourself and you can be a great instructor. Will these kind of tools that you need to have and tools or things that you don't want to have are things that will help make you that good solid instructor to build on. I'm going to give you eight tips and like I said, I have had the privilege of working at the most prestigious clubs around the country and for the last 15 years I've had my own studio, John Gary Fitness and employees in Long Beach, California. And I have worked with some of the greatest instructors in the world. Um, and I've hired many of them because of the traits that they have. There are though, over the years I've seen instructors that have either not come up to to the standard that most of us are looking for when we're hiring instructors or that somewhere along the line kind of missed the mark.

They kind of may be get an ego that's a little bit too big and they forget about the things that make you a solid instructor. So let's go through some of those. The first point I want to make is don't be late. So this is should be, all of these things should be common sense, but the last thing you want to be is the instructor that's rushing into the room at the last minute and not looking like they're professional and not looking like they're ready to teach the class. So when I say don't late, what I'm really saying is be 10 minutes early. That being 10 minutes early gives you the time to set up. It gives you the time to greet the people who are so excited to come and take your class, to be professional, to find out what is going on in their life, to see if there are any changes that you need to know about before teaching them movement, to set the stage to establish the environment.

So it's really important that you are on time and by on time, I mean 10 minutes early. People who do that are good. All right, they're solid. Let's move on to the second point. So the second point and business, one of my pet peeves, last minute subs. So there's a lot of things that are not right of out last minute subs. First of all, I understand everybody understands this happened to me, but an emergency will come up or you get ill suddenly and you can't teach your class. I'm not talking about that. When I talk about last minute subs, that happens rarely. Let's hope it happens rarely and by rarely, I mean maybe once every six months, maybe once a year or something like that.

What I'm talking about is, Ooh, my friend has tickets to go. See a Broadway show and the person they were going with can't go, so they've asked me to go and I just need to find a sub for my class tonight. I'm talking about that last minute subbing. That's not good because yes, it's great for you. You get to go and see a show that you wouldn't have normally been able to see, but what happens is there are a number of people who are really looking forward to seeing you, who have planned their day around taking class from you.

They're excited to see you. They are thrilled to come in. They want you to work them out. They want to you to relieve their stress and what happens. They walk in the door and you're not there. As a matter of fact, there's somebody else there that they didn't expect that they might not know, that they might not have taken if they had known they were teaching. It doesn't mean that that person's a bad instructor, but they were planning on taking class from you.

Think about that before you make a decision to last minute sub. It's so important to build a reputation and all of these things that I'm talking about are going to help you build the reputation that makes you a solid instructor and remember, you can't move from good to great if you're not good, so no last minute subbing. My third point is about creating your environment, and this has to do with music and ambience. You don't have to use music in your classes. Some classes actually dictate that you don't use music, that there's quiet, that their silence, some classes dictate that you need energy, that you need something underneath, something that helps boost you and your performance as well as the client's performance that makes them want to do more.

Music is such a beautiful thing to help that happen in the right circumstances and used in the right way. I've seen a lot of instructors make the mistake of just putting on any music when they teach their class, so it ends up not really being appropriate background for what they're actually teaching. It's either too slow or too quiet or they're fighting the music because even if they turn it down, there's so much energy in the music. It way overpowers what it is that they're trying to teach. So when you develop your class, think about what is the atmosphere that I want and what's the lighting that works in that class? What's the temperature that works in that class?

What's the sound that I want behind my voice when I'm teaching my clients? That will make you a solid instructor. Next, I want to talk about you. So this is a mistake that I think a lot of newer instructors make, but I've also seen many seasoned instructors fall into this trap. Remember, this is not your workout. This is your clients work, workout your classes, workout.

You are not in there to get your cardio fix for the day. You're not in there to get your mat workout for the day. You're in there to take others through their workout. That's so important to remember because you need to program for the person in front of you. You need to do your workout separately. You need to get that done in your own time. When you can program for yourself, people are not coming to watch you work out.

They're coming for you to give them the expertise that you have to get the best workout possible. So don't make it your own workout. Give that energy back to the people who have really come to see you and are excited to take from you. That doesn't mean don't do some of the exercises with them because demonstrating exercises and performing some exercises with your clients is a really powerful tool for helping them learn what that exercise is. Sometimes with newer groups, you're going to be demonstrating a lot of the exercises and many repetitions of them so that they can model you, so you're going to perform them to your best ability, but that doesn't mean it's your workout. It means it's their workout and so you need to make sure that they're following you, that they're doing what you're doing, that you stopped demonstrating when it's time to get up and correct and cue and walk around the room and make sure that you are giving them their class, not yours.

The next thing I want to talk about is really, I think one of the crucial things that I have seen over the years that can really damage someone's reputation as an instructor and that is gossip. Don't gossip and it should really be clear and very much common sense that you don't talk about clients. Ah, you don't talk about people in your class, you don't talk about participants to other participants and really, unless it's something that another instructor needs to know, you shouldn't talk about it with other instructors. But when I'm talking about Gossiping, when I'm talking about trash talking, I'm talking about you and your colleagues. I have seen more teams get ruined because people don't get along than I care to talk about, but we at our studio really focus on getting our instructors to work together to take each other's classes, to build each other up, to help each other build their numbers in their class to support each other. It's makes it such a great place to work when you know you're going to walk in and whoever instructors down the hall just finished their class and they can't wait to jump into your class if there's room and take the class as well and help add to the energy and support you.

It makes such a big difference on a team and you have to remember to not have the mindset of scarcity. There are enough clients to go around for everyone and at our studio our clients have about tough choice of who to take because everyone is so good and they will take from one or the other and if they ask an instructor, that instructor is going to tell them how great another instructor is. It's so important to do that as a team because the more your team builds that comradery, the more people want to be a part of it. So all of your participants are gonna love to take your class and they might jump into somebody else's class and they're going to tell come and tell you how good they are. Don't trash talk another instructor, build them up. The next thing I want to talk about is putting away your toys, right?

So you probably heard this from your mom, from your dad when you were growing up, put away your toys, put away your toys. There's a reason for that. Everything should have its place. And when it does, when you need to go back and find it again, it's right there where where you put it away. So everything has a home that's so important as a studio because as an instructor, one of the most frustrating things is going to the shelf where the magic circles are usually capped and all of a sudden, none of the magic circles are there. They're living somewhere else. So in an organized environment, it's so much better for you as an instructor because you can program more easily for your client and you know where everything is. You pull it out, it's really quick, it's easy, it helps you with the flow and the smoothness of your class, and so as an instructor you want to make sure that you're helping other instructors with that same thing. If we all know where everything lives and we make sure after class is over that we put it away. It helps everyone, and this isn't just toys, but your client's toys as well, so they don't work there.

They're there to work out and yes, it would be really nice if all of our clients clean their stuff and put it away, but help them, help them do it. Set an example and be happy about it. Oh, I'll help you with that. Let me grab that for you. Let me give you the towel to wipe that down. Let me wipe it down for you. That kind of customer service is going to really build you a great reputation, not only with your clients but with your other colleagues.

They're going to be so happy that when they walk into that room, it is ready for them. It's ready to go. So pick up your toys. Next I want to talk about attitude. Attitude is everything, and we talked about this a lot at our studio. We talk about leaving whatever it is at the door so that when you walk into the class, all of the baggage that had been happening to you that day is gone. And when I talk about leaving it at the door, I'm not talking about the classroom door, I'm talking about your house door.

So when you walk out of your house, you immediately start getting into the mindset of I'm going to go teach my class. They're ready for this. I need to be ready for this. You get in your car, you put on your favorite music, you change your attitude, you choose your attitude so that by the time you get to that studio, you're not driving into that parking lot. Looking for a place to park and trying to fight with somebody who ends up being in your class. From the moment you leave your house, you never know who you're going to see. So have that good attitude from the second you walk out the door. And once you get into the habit of doing that, it's really easy to choose your attitude and actually you inhabit it. You become that attitude. You're that happy person.

You're that exciting instructor that never is in a bad mood. It's such a great thing to see when somebody walks in the door and they've got a big smile on their face and they're so happy to see you and they can't wait to give you that workout that they've been working on. It's amazing. So choose your attitude. The next thing, and the last thing I want to talk about is don't overstay your welcome. So this is about ending class on time. And this is another, if you talk to pretty much any instructor, this is something that drives instructors crazy. When the instructor before them goes over, your job is to start your class on time to have it programmed perfectly so that you include that warm up and have time to put everything away before the next class is supposed to come in. At our studio, we leave 10 minutes in between sessions that allows for the instructor if there a minute or two like behind, they can kind of catch up really quickly and it's a good transition because some of our clients go from one class to another and you want them to be able to get into that next class in time to set themselves up and get themselves ready.

Our instructors also go from one class to another and you want them to have time to do whatever they need to do before going into their next class and to be 10 minutes early, which is what we talked about in the beginning. So make sure that you are honoring time commitments not only for the studio but for your clients. A lot of your clients are very scheduled. They know the time they have to work out and they need to work out within that time, and then they need to take off. And if you, they have to leave before you're done with the cool-down, you're doing them a disservice. So make sure that you are honoring the time commitments of everyone. It's good for the studio, it's good for the clients, it's good for the colleagues, and it builds your reputation. So on that note, I don't want to overstay my welcome and I'm going to leave you here, so go be awesome.

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All of these points resonate with me as an instructor John.

I cone from a corporate legal background and it drives me nuts when other instructors look for last minute convenience subs (for example). You agreed to a shift, that's your shift. I've turned up dosed up to the eyeballs on cold remedy and coffee so I can give my classes the positive energy you mention. It really bugs me when other instructors don't have that commitment.

On a positive note the studios that I work for now have great cultures of talking up other instructors. It is a lovely supportive environment and creates a glow for everyone - studio, instructor and client c
1 person likes this.
Great information. I'm delighted to see I fit in that frame of thought and practice!
Thank you very much.
1 person likes this.
Yes....8x over! Thank you - great reminders. Now I've gotta go find that e-book. xoxoxo
Hi Jennifer! Sorry I forgot to include the ebook info for Moving From Good To Great - A Fitness and Pilates Instructor's Guide To Being The Best. I've just included a link to it in the description. Thank you!
2 people like this.
Thank you everyone for your comments! And, thank you Kristi, for putting the link to the eBook. I just love Pilates Anytime and am always humbled and honored to share with you all. Can't wait til next time! :)
1 person likes this.
Love it!! I realized that I think I am condsidered SEASONED...(teaching Pilates for 16 years) BUT not too SEASONED for the reminders. I try my best to do all the things you stated. I believe it has helped me retain clients for more than 15 years! Thanks John :0)
1 person likes this.
Love it, it is so important and YES! I'm good instructor for every pont Thank You
1 person likes this.
Oh boy great tutorial and yes soooooo true!! I too have been teaching Pilates for more than 16 years BUT agree with Laura reminders on some of these points are needed!!! I recognize all the points you go through. Actually I really know myself (EEKS) on ones I'm weak at Uuuhm like ..... timing? Timing is my worst enemy, but STILL working on it! For the rest I'm good been working with the same clients for many years They love me :)))
Colette C
Love this!!!!! What a great lesson to view as I plan my resolutions for 2017! Thank you thank you!
So helpful before New Year return to class I freelance for several studios/gyms..we all need reminders of these teaching principles
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