Respect all instructors

Sometime ago I was having a discussion with someone, this person told me that we should respect all instructors, regardless of how they do in class. I tend to disagree with that statement, just because someone is an instructor doesn’t deem them worthy of my respect. It also doesn’t mean that they are any good at what they do. Now how’s that for some real talk?

By the way, I apply this to myself as well. The first Zumba routine that I tried sucked real bad. I had been asked to try one prior to getting my license or really practicing and developing my style. Considering that I had nothing to lose, I went along with it. The class also went along with it and played with me, but in hindsight I don’t think I did very well. However, I had fun doing it and it provided me some much needed experience in front of a group. I have since developed my own style and I kick ass in Zumba. I’ve fast become a favorite at all the gyms where I teach and sub at. However, that first one, that was weak.

My first time teaching a strength class was also a disaster. I hadn’t yet found and developed my own style in this format. I needed to get practice in front of people though, so I was subbing classes all over the city in front of different groups. Since I hadn’t yet found myself, I tried to emulate one of my instructor’s routines, that was a sheer disaster. I am not him, and though he is amazing at what he does, he is the only person that can pull off that style. Others have tried, and they fail miserably every time, same as I did. The difference is that I learned from it, adapted and evolved into my own person.

Allow me to give you a perfect example of how a sub par instructor can get on board. Let’s take a look at Zumba for instance. Did you know that in order to get licensed to teach Zumba, all that you have to do is show up to an 8 hour training, and at the end, you are now a licensed Zumba instructor? There is no test, no knowledge check, no skill based examination, nothing, you are just licensed and can call yourself a Zumba instructor.

Now take this same person, and now they show up to an audition. Maybe they know one song, and they demonstrate it almost competently, there is a good chance that this person could get by even the most competent manager. It really depends on how many people are auditioning, available time to view their work, etc. This has to be the case because some of the people I have seen suck real bad, I mean, just wow!

I’ve seen some individuals who are completely off sync with the music, they couldn’t find the beat if their lives depended on it. Now how does someone become an instructor in a format that requires dancing on beat to music? Then there are others who never interact and simply stare at the mirror doing their moves. There are also divas who think that they are in some sort of Broadway performance, these are actually very competent dancers, but terrible instructors.

This is actually what prompted the discussion with my friend about it. I may have put up a Facebook post about how “not all instructors are created equal.” I still maintain that view, some of us work really hard, and some of us hardly work. Some of us take pride in our conditioning, and some of us can’t even lead a class (not participate as you teach, just lead the class) without being winded. I’ve seen it, and I’ve also seen a manager get on someone over it. The person asked, how can you call yourself a group exercise instructor when you can’t even do 15 minutes of your own class?

So sure, becoming an instructor takes some effort. I mean, you have to study and take an exam. You need to develop at least enough skill to learn one song, or demonstrate enough competence to get by a busy a manager. However, that doesn’t mean you get by me or the participants. We’ll all know if you are flaky and not real about this. So if you plan to become, or are an instructor, then get your ass in gear and practice your craft, get in shape, and do a damn good job!

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