How I Keep My Group Fitness Classes Fresh

I’m totally psyched to already be done with my workout today. Usually I don’t choose Monday mornings as my time to exercise, but today I agreed to sub for Molly’s spin class while she is off getting hitched. Now I’m pumped to have a free night!

Recently a friend asked me how I come up with new material for all the classes I teach every week, and it got me thinking. Here’s what I try to do to stay interesting as an instructor and keep classes fresh:

I take other instructors’ classes, and often, to see what else is out there.
It’s really hard for me to remember everything from an hour long class, so my general rule of thumb is to remember two take-a-ways that I can turn into my own later on. Whether it be an especially good song or just a creative move combination, two is usually doable for me.

I attend continuing education classes and workshops.
Staying up to date with credits is a huge pain in the butt, but attending a good workshop can always generate some new ideas, nevermind keep you educated as an instructor. Participants want someone who knows their stuff!

I take a look at Exercise TV.
On demand fitness stations always have something that I can incorporate into my classes. Sometimes I like this option better than searching the information superhighway because I really don’t need to add any more hours of sitting to my day!  With Exercise TV, I can move and practice the exercises along with the TV in the comfort of my own home. Love, love, love the Jillian Michaels ones.

I flip through fitness magazines.
Many have started including little index cards that you can rip (neatly) out of the fitness sections. These are easy to bring to the gym or add to my binder of fitness routines.

Finally, I do far too many internet searches.
There really are pages out there for everything! A nice site to look at is Turnstep, an online community where instructors share routines and ideas. I’ve also started following a TON of fitness bloggers now that I started a blog myself.

I add variations.
Instead of doing regular pushups every week, do pushups with a leg lift, pushups on the ball, spiderman pushups, incline pushups, pushups with one arm on a bench, pushups against the wall, and so on.  Look how many weeks worth of classes I just covered with only 7 variations!

I change up my music.
Finally, I make new playlists! Classes love when you announce that you have new music for them at the beginning of class. And this keeps them from getting bored listening to the same songs week after week.

For any other instructors out there, one piece of advice I have for keeping things fresh while also keeping things easy on yourself is to recycle your classes! For example, I knew that the crowd in Ed’s Wednesday night spin class that I subbed for last week would be different from the Monday morning spin class I subbed for this morning, so I used the exact same playlist and class format I did last week. Did anybody know? Nope! Huge time saver on my end. This is also a good method if you teach at different gyms. For example, I often do similar moves in my Tuesday night Muscle Power class at the Y that I teach at the bootcamp class I run for my company. Just make sure you don’t have the same group of people going to both because that’s when the routines will get stale and your clientele will get bored.

Let’s chat! Fellow instructors, how do you keep your classes fresh? Class goers, what helps keep classes exciting for you?