I’m sure we’ve all heard it before but I think Ben Franklin put it best when he said,
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
If you’ve been teaching for a while, you’ve probably tried to phone it in at some point. Think of when you subbed last minute or when you just didn’t set aside the time to make a new class plan. Best case scenario, your class starts to feel a little stale and you just don’t bring the same energy as when you’ve prepped a new move or order of moves. Worst case, the class is a complete mess. As a former group fitness supervisor, I am all for subbing last minute so don’t let a lack of plan stop you from jumping in but you should definitely plan out your regular classes and here’s why:
- You can tell your students what to expect.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your classes is to give your students a rundown of what to expect from class. If you have a plan, then you can do this and you’ll notice an energy shift in the room because students will be more at ease when they have a general road map of where you’re going to take them. In my experience this is more true in cycling than any other class but all classes benefit from an adequate introduction.
- You’ll provide a well-rounded workout.
If you fail or forget to plan your class, you might end up over-doing bicep work and skipping triceps all together or offer a ton of quad work and forget to teach a proper thigh stretch. When you plan out your class, you’re able to provide better balance. True, you might want a heavy focus on hip opening for yoga one day or a hamstring-burning barre class and that’s great as long as you stretch those areas too.
- Class will run smoother and you’ll have less stress
If you have control of your plan, you can have more control of the rest of the elements of class too. You can place more focus on students, do a quick song change without throwing yourself off and keep your mind at ease.
- You’ll feel and appear more confident
When you have a plan, you will sound and look more confident so students will listen better and trust you more.
- You can think ‘big picture’
If you have a class plan, you can build on that each week (for example, work closer toward crow pose each week for a month) or use it for variety from week to week (for example, focus on a different body part each week in circuit training).
Wait. Can I have notes for class?!?!
One question that many instructors ask is whether they should have notes for class or if that’s a bad look because a seasoned instructor wouldn’t need them. It is 100% okay to have notes while you teach!!! However, you should know the plan and only need to glance quickly at your notes. This is why I plan my classes with stick figures. It’s a trick I learned in yoga teacher training and, that way, I can take a quick peak at my plan whenever I need to, during class, no reading required! Check out my Instagram stories to see me planning classes from time to time. Aside from stick figures, I use a spiral notebook so it can sit open by my mat or equipment and I use sticky notes to mark pages so I can quickly find my place again if I accidentally close my notebook during class (or if the studio fans close it for me – that has definitely happened!).
Recap of my Class Planning Tips:
- Draw stick figures
- Use a spiral notebook or journal (I love pretty journals)
- Mark pages with sticky notes