What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is when an experienced group exercise instructor takes on a novice and teaches them how to teach one or more class styles. Mentoring means one on one time that provides and teaches the trainee, skills and techniques to develop communication skills, choreography, class plans and understanding specific group exercise customer service.
When an instructor decides to be a mentor, it means that they have decided to accept a level of responsibility. This responsibility is not only to the trainee, but also to the customers and club where the mentoring is taking place. Customers are deserving of excellently taught workouts and a club retains it's reputation by having those classes well attended. It is then a necessity to continually mentor new and existing instructors to ensure that quality instruction and exceptional customer service is maintained. A mentor needs to ensure that the trainee is accountable for their practice, homework and professionalism to guarantee that the trainee will become an excellent addition to the group exercise team. Thus the role of a mentor is important and one that should be encourage, supported and fostered to guarantee that there will be a continuous stream of outstanding instructors.
"As an international presenter, course and workshop provider, I am very passionate about instructor training and development. It is my goal to help each instructor to be excellent role models for their peers, and to realise their true potential which is not often believed within their grasp.
Mentoring has proven to be a very rewarding process, beginning with a new instructor who requires your constant reassurance, feedback and guidance to a presenter who has developed their skills and opinions based on the joint experiences that you have shared with them."
The mentoring process should begin with an interview between the trainee, mentor and program coordinator (if they are the actual mentor). An understanding between all parties involved is necessary so that there is full comprehension of what will be required from both the trainee and mentor. If there is a coordinator involved in the meeting, the mentor and trainee need to be aware of the support that can be provided and what can be reasonably requested e.g. room allocation, support from other instructors, handling of member feedback if necessary.
" When I interview new trainees, I ask several questions to determine their aptitude and passion to group exercise training and instruction.
"After the initial interview, absolute deal breakers for me are:
" I initially start every trainee with learning how to teach a basic hi/lo workout. I believe that this class format incorporates all the skills necessary to be an excellent instructor. From here I then further their teaching abilities in an area that they are most interested in. Since hi/lo is one of the more challenging classes to teach well, most of their skills are then easily modified and transferred to another teaching modality."
How long each trainee takes to complete their training is determined on the amount of effort that they put into the homework practice that they must do each week. If they are committed in other areas, then the training moves at a much slower pace.
The training needs to be split into two main components - choreography development (theory) and teaching skills (practical). Being able to pre plan a class and seeing how it will work in a practical setting is key to developing the skill to be creative and realistic. One skill cannot be taught without the other. Understanding how people move in a group setting is necessary to develop and plan for future classes with realistic expectations. Often instructors are skilled in one area and not the other. The outcome is often instructors who can either create amazing choreography but do not know how to teach to the class, or instructors who have great teaching and presenting skills, but tend to stick to the same routine for lengthy periods of time. What is ideal is an instructor who plans interesting and physically challenging workouts that is appropriate for the skill level of participants, on a regular basis.