Instruction Manual | Eclectic Cake: Instruction Manual

Monday, 18 May 2015

Instruction Manual

Everyone remembers their favourite teacher at school. They’re the ones that helped you finally understand equations, perfect your poems and showed you the path to your dream career. The ones who taught you lessons that weren’t scheduled, answered questions after the bell rang and didn't laugh at your dreams. 

Whilst it’s been a few years since I was last in education, I have had a lot of teachers during my quest to try every class in London, and it’s telling that I’ve returned to and raved about some but haven’t even felt the need to review others. A good instructor has such a big affect on a class, especially when you’re trying that particular activity for the first time.

Everyone is different and we’re all motivated by different things but there are certain qualities every good instructor should have...

1) Simplicity
Everyone who attends the same class needs to understand what to do, especially when potentially dangerous equipment is involved. All instructions should be simple and clear, so everyone has a chance to do their best in the session.

Victoria from Gymbox, the best spin instructor I've ever had, barely spoke to our class. The nature of a Bikes & Beats session, means she would've had to compete with the pounding music by screaming at us. Instead, she shouted the odd word during breaks in the music or used hand signals. Everyone managed to follow her with no confusion.

2) Enthusiasm
If the person teaching me at 7:30 in the morning can't get excited about what we're doing, I'm certainly going to struggle to enjoy the next hour in their class. Whilst you'll have to at least bring some motivation to each session, a good instructor will be able to give you that extra little boost of energy from shear love of the activity. Enthusiasm is infectious and you'll find yourself leaping out of bed far easier if the person you're meeting is looking forward to seeing you, too.

3) Awareness
Workout classes will more often than not have a mix of people that changes from week to week. Instructors should take note of everyone – their ability, experience, fitness levels, language barriers, disability, if there are any injuries – that steps through the studio doors.

I once went to a contortion class, where the instructor didn't say a word, he just pushed and pulled you about until you cried. For an intense class like that, I would've though checking for injuries (at least) would be required...?!

4) Supportiveness
Working out can be hard. You get tired and sore and sometimes you'll think about quitting. An instructor who is supportive and understands what they're making you do is hard, will never let you quit. But they won't scream at you or make you feel bad or humiliate you, they'll be supportive and get you through the hard bits.

The instructors at my absolute favourite bootcamp, Commando Active, know how to get a group through a hard session. They genuinely want you to succeed and achieve. Leading by example, they offer genuine motivation, which you later find repeated by members get others through difficult tasks. I've never met a more supportive group of people.

5) Creativity
Sometimes you get stuck. That might be plateauing with progress, not quite being able to master a move or forgetting form. The best instructors will know how to get you over these challenges and it's usually with a bit of creative thinking.

My brilliant flying trapeze instructor at the National Centre for Circus Arts always knows when it's time to try a new method to ace a trick. She's had me flying with my eyes closed, holding bean bags in-between my legs, reciting rhymes, wriggling on the floor...but once applied to the trick, these seemingly strange methods worked a treat to perfect my timing, keep my legs together, remember which way to twist and the movement needed to flip myself.

There are, of course, many other qualities that define a great instructor. What skills do you value most?

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