An ever increasing number of companies have jumped on the bandwagon, bringing us a diverse range of pre-choreographed classes from Latin dance to barbell workouts and boxing style sessions to mind/body workouts. The list is endless.
As fitness professionals and class teachers we have to ask ourselves whether these types of pre-choreographed classes are suited to individuals of all ages, all capabilities, and all levels of experience. Are clubs and fitness venues including so many of these classes on their timetables to offset hefty license fees? They may want their money’s worth but are they taking account of what the members want and need?
Pre-choreographed classes have certainly earned a right to exist in our fitness cosmos and they do offer huge advantages to us as instructors - choreography is offered on a plate along with the playlist of songs, saving us vast amounts of valuable time, which seems to be hard to come by in a fitness instructor’s life! All we have to do is buy it, learn it, teach it and enjoy it - but is it really that simple? I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that one size does not fit all!
For example, every Tuesday I teach a 10.00 a.m. Pilates class at a well-known gym at which attendance is good and consistent. However, the same cannot be said for the 10.00 a.m. Wednesday class, which is a pre-choreographed Mind/Body style class. I’m lucky if I have 5 participants.
Every week I ask myself the same question - why am I doing this? It’s clearly not working. I leave the class feeling a sense of doom and gloom that something just isn’t right. So I decided to bite the bullet and ask the participants how they felt about the class. The general consensus was that the class was too fast-paced and they couldn’t keep up. One of my regular Pilates ladies explained that she stopped attending the pre-choreographed class as her arthritic hands would not allow her to move as quickly as the choreography and music dictate and she felt an overwhelming sense of panic.
I’m sure others teaching this type of class can identify with the fact that we simply don’t have the luxury of time to teach thorough set-ups, nor to correct or adjust people. We’re consumed with remembering the choreography and staying on the beat! As a result I’ve decided to be true to myself. I’ve hung up my choreography notes and pre-prepared CDs and now teach Pilates and yoga the good old fashioned way!
I would stress that some pre-choreographed classes work well. However, instructors should constantly assess the teaching circumstances and go with what feels right and ethical for the participants - after all, they are our bread and butter!
I believe that our employers should be encouraged to work with us to find out what’s appropriate for our class members and not be too hung up on what makes the gym look good, or competing with other gyms’ timetables. Every gym is different with members having different needs – we shouldn’t forget that.