As a teacher and (teacher) trainer myself, I know this well. Teachers learn the “routine” and then teach it to their students. But what if a student shouldn’t or can’t do what your piece of paper says to do? What do you do? How do you accommodate them and still keep the class going? Or wouldn’t it be nice to walk into class and ask your class what they would like to work on and be able to meet those needs? It’s possible, just requires a bit of work on your part.
I unfortunately have seen the back lash of this, both as a student and as a teacher. Students having an “ah ha” moment in class as they realized that their back SHOULDN’T hurt in Cobra (I hear this a lot from new to me students of yoga). Or I as a new student in class was never asked about any health issues or concerns I might have (and this was at a very popular New York studio). What if I had a heart condition and knew nothing about what not to do, like lifting my arms overhead would be a concern and put pressure on my heart. Or what if I just had knee surgery and this was my first exercise class since then, or ever. The reality is that students don’t think that issues they have would pertain to your services for various reasons. My mom had a heart attach while teaching at my studio and I was there and know that she is no no medications and know that she has no preexisting conditions and for me to do CPR on her and they EMT’s to use the AED I know that no extra damage was ever done. But what if that was one of my students. In my case I have health records for each of my students and this is why. The question is “do you?”
Who cares if you have a successful business or any club for that matter, because if your business lacks the ability to actually do what you are saying you are setting out to do,to me that is a huge problem.
So now the question is how do I change this?
1. Update your client history at least once a year and post regularly that students need to inform you if their health has changed for any reason. And if they ask let them know that it is for “their health”. How can you help someone if you know nothing about them?
2. Get to know your students, read the waiver forms, ask your clients and class questions about health issues, I can guarantee that your client retention will be much higher when they notice that you are actually paying attention to them and are hear to “help” them and not just kick their butt.
3. Re-evaluate what you are teaching or coaching? Why are you doing what you are doing? And what you are guiding, does it have merit to the health and well-being to your clients and students? I like to ask myself the “why” question. Why are you teaching me this, why are we doing this. Now don’t go all mental on me, I am using this context to look at how we move our physical bodies, I don’t believe we need to know all the why’s in life, but I do think this one is important.
4. If you feel the need to pre-write your classes, base them off of your students issues and concerns. And remember what they need and what they want may not be the same so “show” them and educate them as to what you are teaching. This is a big red flag for students. If you teacher is just “doing” something just because, I would be worried. Many of my students know that as we go into to something they are not virgin to hear me say “if you have XYZ going on do not do this or go that far“, followed up by “and this is why“. If they know why they are more likely to not do it and then not hurt themselves and as a result trust you more.
5. Talk to your students. Get them to talk to you and respond to inquiries you are provoking on them. “How does this feel”. I like to quiz my students in class. “Why do you think we are doing A this way?”, this makes them stop and think and for a moment not just go through the motions. Plus they feel you are actually invested in them and that you do in fact know what you are talking about.
6. Get them to “self check”. Ask them to look at their feet (or body part), I often use the lingo “actually look at your feet, take a moment you are this close-LOOK”. This kindly reminds your students to actually practice body awareness, something we often “think” we are doing but are really off in la-la-land.
7. As the teacher or the trainer learn these flags (and teach them to your students): they can’t do the exercise, there is tension or pain, alignment is off or difficult. Often times when a student experiences one of all of these they force even more and end up in greater pain or frustrated and if there is no line of communication between student and teacher how will you ever solve this problem.
8. Ask yourself and have your students ask themselves “how is this helping”? How is this helping them, is what you are doing just so hard that they are creating more problems just to do it, than actually trying to achieve the purpose of the exercise. When our bodies have dysfunction and we move in a way that encourages that dysfunction, how are we any closer to wellness than before; how are our bodies any healthier than yesterday? The only benefit may be in our head (ego).
9. Think “corrective exercises”. Identify what the “pain” is or the “dysfunction” is and work to create balance. We are often thinking backwards. Balance is our goal. But if we can’t identify the imbalance how will balance be achieved. This also encourages your students to take some self responsibility and create body awareness as they have to think for themselves. Something many honestly are not very versed in.
10. And finally as the student, you cannot put all the responsibility on your teacher or coach; at some point you must be responsible. This is a great reminder for all students that your teacher is not God, they do not live in your body, nor are they a mind reader. But as the teacher it is in our best interest to teach and encourage and educate clients on what is asked of them and let them know how this can help and show them the parallel to everyday life. I often point out to my students that as we blame our teacher or our mat or the distracting student next to us for why we can’t do something, we most likely are also living that way (I am talking from life experience, this is how I use to live).
Mind-body fitness, yoga and any type of physical, mental and spiritual well-being exericse is a give and take, teachers give your students reason to want more and students give a little something for your teacher to work off of, you’d be surprised as to what comes about.