Having completed my Certificate III in Fitness (Gym Instructor) course with CAE in August 2010, I booked in to do their Group Fitness Instructor course (Sep-Dec 2010). I had been planning to do this “specialist unit” for some time anyway, but when I discovered that Marietta Mehanni was the course leader, that was all the added incentive I needed to sign up. Marietta was one of our instructors in the Cert III Gym Instructor course and her enthusiasm for her subjects is boundless (although, how anyone can maintain a degree of excitement about the origin and insertion points of muscles and the Sliding Filament Theory still has me puzzled). Anyway, I knew that if Marietta was in charge of our Group Fitness course, there is no way any of us would come out of it less than thoroughly prepared. I was right. Let’s not beat around the bush. Marietta’s teaching style is firm, but fair. If you’re willing to put in the hours to practise and perfect your craft (and that’s what Group Fitness instruction is), then Marietta is behind you 100%. You don’t have to be an instant expert for Marietta to be your cheerleader, but you DO have to show that you are willing to learn, are not afraid to make mistakes and that you’re not afraid to speak up and ask for help or clarification on a particular topic. The thirteen Sunday afternoons I spent learning skills such as “what is a phrase?”, “what is a block?”, “what is a warm-up actually FOR?”, “what’s mirror image/participant image/hybrid teaching?”, “why don’t we ask “Does anyone have any injuries?” any more?”, and so on, have been invaluable. I have been teaching a dance class for about 3 years at a fitness centre in Glen Iris. The sorts of things we do in a (Jazz) dance class differ from those moves done in aerobics, but as course assessment time drew near, I used my class as guinea pigs and practised my assessment routine on them. They were very kind and forgave me when I went blank, but on the whole, the feedback was, “Wow! We LIKE that new aerobic-style warm-up. That’s FUN!” So as a result, I have incorporated many of the elements I learned in the Group Fitness course into the warm-up for my dance class. The class is called “Aerodance” and is now much more true to its name. We do an aerobic warm-up for about 15 minutes (and I know how to incorporate a learning curve … and I know that I am using the Reverse Pyramid process), then learn a different dance routine every week (30mins) and then we finish off with a cool down and some stretches – stretches that I now know how to demonstrate effectively and can explain to the class members which muscle we are stretching and why. Having learned the process of cueing (verbally and non-), the warm-up my class does is much more effective and, because I am now FACING the class (traditionally in dance class warm-ups, you face the same way as the participants), I can see much more clearly which exercises they are doing well and which ones need a bit of technical correction. I’d say the view of me that the class members get is probably much more appealing, too. So my Aerodance class is now truly unique – something that I hope makes it a selling point. I’ve also done the Zumba teacher training course and had my first Zumba class as an instructor on January 22nd. Yes, I was nervous, but because of the training I’d received in the CAE Group Fitness Instructor course, I was able to apply those principles and by “sticking to the script” I could put my nerves aside for a while and just get on with the business of running the class. By the time I was 10 or 15 minutes in, the nerves had gone and I was able to settle into enjoying the session. But if I hadn’t had that safety net that Marietta had drilled into us (!), I think I would have been a bit of a mess. I went completely against the Zumba philosophy of “no verbal cueing” and cued my head off all the way through the class. And I have to tell you, it worked a treat. The class loved it, everyone kept in time with the music and 99% of the time, we were all travelling in the same direction – what an achievement! Thanks to Marietta, Jen, Dayjelle, Naomi and Andrew for all their encouragement and advice. I honestly would not be able to present my classes the way I do and with the confidence I now have if I hadn’t done the CAE Group Fitness course. There’s more to learn, certainly, but I think I’m off to a flying start. Who knows where these new skills will take me? Perhaps, with apologies to Buzz Lightyear, to infinity and beyond!