Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Goldilocks Story....Almost

Have you every thought about offering a new format at your gym? Or, what if you just got certified for a new Zumba format, then what? Maybe you are interested in getting a new gig, but how?

As all ZIN™ members know, we get licensed to teach new formats at Zumba® Convention (ZINCON) and by attending a ZIN Education Specialist (ZES) certification trainings. It’s exciting to acquire new skills and the potential of getting additional classes to teach. I have been certified in Zumba® Gold, Aqua, Toning, Step, and STRONG by Zumba®. I have attempted to teach them all with the exception of Gold, with different degrees of success.

Let’s break it down. Questions to ask yourself when attempting to teach a new format: 
  • How different is the format from what I already teach? 
  • Do I have time to practice and master a whole different format? 
  • Which audience am I going after? 
  • How will I approach the potential employer? 
  • How am I going to market the class?

First, format differences. In my experience, Zumba® and Zumba® Toning are the closest. Teaching these formats together work well for me, as I don’t have much time to practice due to my full-time job and the several classes I already teach. When I subbed Aqua, I quickly realized that teaching in an indoor pool was tough on my eyes – the chlorine irritated them. Perhaps an outdoor pool is better but I haven’t tried it. The Aqua audience was used to a different format, more relaxed and with props. Then I show up with lots of energy and Latin music – quickly realized I needed to adapt. Was I willing to compromise? As a true professional, I did; but I didn’t believe it was the right thing for me.

The different certifications. Step, I took step aerobics classes for over 10 years. Piece of cake, I thought. In reality, the format is very different to regular Zumba® and when you miss a beat really shows. Maybe I wasn’t ready? STRONG by Zumba® (SBZ). I loved the format, still do. I targeted my Zumba® students/friends that wanted to take things to the next level. This is how I sold it to the Group Ex Director; however, after a couple months I realized that the format was a shock to my regular Zumba® peeps – not the right audience.

The sweet spot. Zumba® Toning. Almost like the Goldilocks story. I had my new pitch to the Group Ex Director: “Let’s switch SBZ with Zumba® Toning. It’s a good bridge between Zumba® and Strength, and less of a shock for the Zumba® students.” Sold! I had the vision and the hook. I created a flyer and shazam, got people interested in it. Then, while brainstorming with a good ZIN peer/friend about how to increase interest after a few months teaching it, she suggested I do demos during popular Zumba® classes at the same gym. And so, I went. I got additional interest and word of mouth set in. Then there were more opportunities. While subbing for Body Conditioning, management said, ‘any format’, as it was the third call with no takers. So, I jumped in! I did a Zumba® Toning class with people that had never done Zumba® before. Wow! I started very simple, then based on their response added dance complexity. Of course, I gave them an SBZ Q4 ‘Floorplay’ segment at the end since, after all, it was expected by this type audience. And guess what, I got more Zumba® Toning converts, from a very unexpected group of people.

So, my advice, go ahead and experiment. Maybe trial-and-error is in the cards. This is how we learn what works for us and our potential/students. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Benefit from the many ZIN resources/forums/support groups and get out there to grow as an instructor and grow your business and passion!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Streamline Your Class Preparation and Have More Time for Fun!

When people ask me what I “do” for employment, it is funny because my mind immediately jumps to me being a fitness instructor over my corporate job where I spend most of my time. The simple answer is because fitness is what I love, it is my passion, it is what I want to do full-time. However, that is not in the cards at this time, so part-time fitness instructor it is. But is it really part time? Think about how much time you spend preparing for classes.
  • Scouting music
  • Working on original choreography
  • Learning choreography
  • Practicing
  • Creating set lists
  • Promoting your classes
  • Keeping your social media up-to-date
  • Networking
  • Building relationships 
  • Attending social events
Now imagine all of that work across several platforms, various gyms, different classes. It can really take up a large portion of your day. Here are a few tips to help you manage your preparation time.

Practice: Just as if you have scheduled classes, schedule yourself practice time. Mark it on your calendar and allot that time specifically for learning new choreography and fine-tuning your existing choreography. If you need a little extra motivation, ask some of your peeps to join you! You will find your energy increases AND the creative collaboration makes for some awesome choreography! 

Music: Take advantage of your downtime during the day. Maybe this is in the car on your way to work, or during nap time for your kids. Keep your music source handy and pop in your ear buds throughout the day to scout new music. Whether it is listening to music provided by your fitness genre, or doing a search on Apple Music of Spotify, you can basically hit shuffle, and tune it out until you find that one jam that resonates with you. Take that song and add it to a set list called “Choreography” so you can easily locate it when you are ready to work on it.

Set Lists: Come up with an easy to follow naming convention for your set lists. You can do this by month, genre, gym or date. In doing so, you will have a record on what you did when to ensure you are keeping things fresh for your participants. I work on set lists the day before classes. It takes about 10-15 minutes to rotate songs in and out or start a new set list. You can make it a practice to have a default set list for when you want to defer to the class favorites.

Social Media: There are several tools that are available in the marketplace to help manage your social media channels. In an effort to keep things streamlined and organized, you can create a content calendar at the beginning of each month. From there you can pre-write and post items and schedule them out with a third-party tool. Alternatively, you can set time aside daily to manage your social channels (I would recommend early in the morning to get it out of the way). The most important thing here is to create your point of view so your posts have value and meaning to your audience. If this is not your wheelhouse, don’t worry, for a nominal fee, you can actually hire someone to manage your accounts. 

Networking: This is such a huge part of the fitness industry. It is no doubt that classes are more fun with different styles and personalities, and those differences are what makes the fitness community unique. Make sure to carve out time in your schedule to get to other people in your fitness community. Visit other instructor classes, and when your schedule allows, attend events to see your friends, meet new people and network new business opportunities. 

We all know the TLC that is required for your fitness classes, businesses and brands. We certainly all know how busy and crazy life can be! Hopefully these tidbits will help save a little preparation time so you can truly do what you love most; inspire others through fitness!