Next up in our special Instructress Transformation series is Diana Davis! In addition to teaching Piloxing and Zumba at SP, Diana also has a key role at the studio, advising on instructress development. Read on for her take on the key qualities to look for in a fitness instructor, and her thoughts on becoming a better instructress.
I began teaching fitness classes in 2010. The first class I taught was called Abs, Butt, & Core (basically an interval training class with exercises targeting those areas). Soon after I started teaching kickboxing, spin and personal training. I studied education throughout college and without realizing it I began implementing various educational theories and strategies into my fitness classes. When I teach, my ultimate goal is for people to leave my classes feeling successful and better about themselves. I believe this happens when the teaching, cueing, and demonstrations are on point. After some reflection, I realized using various educational tools was really helping. I noticed my classes were more in sync and people were able to get a better workout because they knew what to do and when to do it.
From the beginning I knew that education was making me better, so I started attending every certification and workshop I could. I enjoyed the workshops and felt it made my classes more effective. I’ve attended over twelve weekend certifications, and countless workshops and master classes. I am probably one of the biggest group fitness nerds out there. I am always thinking about it, reading articles and blogs, listening to new music, and watching YouTube. I try to always keep up with the ever changing industry and it’s awesome to work at a studio that does that so well!
When I first started teaching everything I taught or wanted to teach was high intensity. I said I never wanted to teach Zumba because I didn’t think it was “hard enough” and the thought of going to yoga bored me. Now I love Zumba and other cardio dance classes, and trust me those classes are definitely workouts! They also allow participants to let go and have fun! It is their chance to take their minds away from daily stressors. Five years ago I would have thought you were crazy if you told me I was about to begin a 200 hour yoga training in September, but people grow and change.
There are lots of certifications out there and different ways instructors can begin/continue their education. Many will start off with an umbrella type of group certification through large fitness companies like AFAA, ACE, ACSM, NASM, NETA. There are specialty certs that will allow an instructor to teach a certain type/brand of fitness class (Zumba, Piloxing, POUND). Instructors can also take various workshops that are more skill based (choreography, presentation, musicality, etc). Many fitness facilities will also offer in-house trainings which allows the owner/manager to offer a variety of professional development at an affordable cost. I had an education professor tell my class that once you did not want to learn anymore and truly thought you were the best teacher it meant it was time to move on. No one is the best at anything, there is always room for improvement. The fitness industry is always changing along with science and research so there is always something new.
There is a difference between instructors that attend workshops and immediately begin teaching and those who take time after to work on their skills. It takes time to learn a new format and just attending a weekend certification is not going to cut it. You have to work hard and dedicate yourself to be better no matter what you’re working on. Once people find something they are passionate about professional development is something fun and interesting to look forward to.
Working at SP is great because as instructors we are always encouraged to develop and work on our teaching. I love getting together with the other instructresses, whether it is sitting and chatting, attend workshops, or going to other classes. It is helpful but also fun for us. Teaching fitness classes is a lot of work but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else and I know that is true of the rest of the SP team as well.