When the location dictates the teacher – #TalkToMeTuesdays

As my journey along this fitness path continues I’m learning more and more about lots of things. What type of teachers I like, what type of venue, how far I’m willing to travel and how much I am willing to pay. You start the journey wanting a class for convenience but slowly you can outgrow your classes, or even your teachers at some point, or stagnate. That doesn’t mean they are a bad teacher, just that the type of teaching they do, doesn’t work for you anymore.

This is why I think it’s so important to keep developing even as a teacher. By that I don’t mean by learning a new posture for Yoga, or a new choreography for Dance or even a new recipe if you cook. I mean growing into your role and developing how you do what you do. For example, as a Dance fitness teacher I have taken up dance classes myself to try and improve my technique, refine my moves and even push myself out my comfort zone. My class will tell you that when I first started teaching I did not like the traditional Zumba hip based moves. I felt uncomfortable and unwieldy. I’m not saying I am any better in how I execute the move but I have tried really hard to try and improve that element of my teaching and to give my class a much more varied workout, constantly changing my songs and my choreo so they can grow, but also so that I can grow.

I find it baffling when you may have a Zumba teacher, or a Dance fitness teacher who has not changed for years. Ok, so you don’t have to be a dancer to teach dance fitness or even Zumba but what you do is still a career. If you worked in a standard day job, you’d still have objectives, you’d still have courses for improvement, constant feedback and expect to improve year on year. So why would you not do the same with this career? I know a lot of teachers that have done the same thing for years. They still have good numbers in their classes which is great, but is that good numbers because people don’t like change or are those good numbers just a turnover of people? If you have 30 people in a class this week, in 3 months you still have 30 people you’d think that was great for consistency. But how many of those new 30 are the same 30 that you had 3 months ago? It’s all well and good to keep numbers consistent but also you want those people to be with you long term feeling like the workout is constantly something new, something fresh and pushes them in new ways. For yourself, especially if you do 10 of those classes a week, when will you get sick of that song or that choreo and not give 100% every time you teach?

Furthermore, locations. Now I understand that especially in London (though also I’m sure everywhere) there is a growing desire for boutique type gyms and studios. More trendy, more expensive and more dynamic classes. I’m all for that. However, what I’m not all for is the location changing a teacher.

Every teacher you have for any type of fitness brings their own elements to their classes. Some of us design our own classes, or even deliver the same classes in very different ways. It doesn’t mean any of us are wrong, just different. That’s why there is so much choice. Someone may love attending my class, some may hate it. It’s not because I’m a bad teacher, just because the way I teach doesn’t appeal to them.

Today I went to a trendy studio in Central London. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the studio. I was sincerely disappointed in my class. Why? It was a yoga class, 50 mins. Firstly, it overran which is a big deal when you are going in the middle of the working day. Not only that but we moved through every posture so fast I barely got into them before we were moving out of them. We also did SO MANY postures, I’m sure we were going through the entire yoga dictionary. For those that practice yoga, I was doing crow balances in my second sun salute flow. During the entire 60 mins class we did, cows head pose, flows, warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior 3, humble warrior, reverse warrior, side twist, head stands, hand stands, forearm balance, side crow, standing balance, wheel and that is just to name a few!

At the time I blamed the teacher. Most of the class didn’t do every posture, myself included so why did she not recognise that we weren’t ready for them all and just take longer with the previous pose? On reflection, and after speaking to a few others, I realised there was probably a heavy influence from the studio. The entire theme of the location is about fast, dynamic, tough, arm balances and I realised that perhaps some of it was her inattentiveness to her class but how much of it was her opinion being over written by a location?

So my statement today is this. Like every single job we do, in every single walk of life. You can love your job but hate where you work. Nowhere is worth sacrificing who you are and how you do your job for. A fitness teacher especially has to stay true to themselves and has to teach their content, their way. They can’t be forced into changing everything because that is what the location wants as it just shows that the location doesn’t really understand the topic you are teaching. Yoga is about internalising, and as a couple of my awesome teachers have said in the past, it’s about how a posture FEELS not what it looks like. How can you get to what it FEELS like if you have barely got into the posture? If every posture is a transition, when do you stop to take it in?

Something to think about.

Ciao for now x

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