This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Six Subbing Survival Tips

I don't teach many classes, but I try and sub for others when I can. It's tough being a sub. Class counts are usually lower since I often sub during holidays, plus participants tend not to show up if they know that the regular instructor is not teaching. Here's some helpful tips for subbing that I'm reposting from the August 2003 Turbo Kick newsletter:

  1. Avoid apologies: Let's pretend your young child had separation anxiety. Imagine now that your babysitter spends the first hour apologizing, "I'm sorry I'm not your mommy," more crying ensues. She continues, "I bet you really miss your mommy." Rule No. 1, apologizing only reminds your class that your are not their regular instructor. Be a good babysitter and employ the art of diversion. Example, "I'm so excited to be here today! I've heard this class has amazing energy. Thanks for having me!" Remember, out of sight is out of mind. Don't invite separation anxiety by apologizing for not being 'so and so'.
  2. Do your homework: Make subbing as painless as possible for both you and your temporary class. Begin by asking the regular instructor to briefly describe how he/she formats the hour. Next, ask the following questions.
    • Describe your teaching style for me.
    • What type of music does your class prefer?
    • What BPM are they accustom to working at?
    • What do they love the most about your class?
    • Is there anything they really hate, or I should completely avoid?

    Be proud of your unique style, but consider the fact that a "similar" class will likely be more successful than a radical change in style or formatting.

  3. When in Rome: People don't like change. The first change is they have a "different" instructor. Don't expect this group to be receptive to even more change. Put personal teaching convictions aside, and remember that it's their workout. Instead of trying to prove that your style of teaching is superior, win them over with your natural charisma and charm.
  4. Never let 'em see ya sweat!: Dozens of people walk through the group exercise room door to take this class. How is it they know that YOU'RE the sub? Could it be the "deer in the headlights" look on your face? Confidence is the key. Enter the room with a big smile and relaxed presence. Greet people in the back. Ask names. Avoid comments like "I haven't taught this type of class before" or "I've already taught 2 classes today", which immediately lower expectations. Get people excited about your energy and what's in store for them. Steer clear of comments which might be misconstrued as self-doubt, such as "I know Lisa is much more advanced than me."
  5. Attitude is everything: A great attitude can get you through anything and is more important than experience, physical strength, choreography, and skill. Make it a personal challenge to get 5 or more students to inquire about your normal teaching schedule (the ultimate sign of approval). Mentally prepare for a handful of regulars to walk-out so you're not frazzled if they do. (It's their loss anyway!)
  6. Give 'em something special: You've got something you do in your classes that people ABSOLUTELY LOVE. Maybe it's your sense of humor or that you sing the cool down song accapella. Whatever it is, you know it works and it's uniquely you. Give this class something to remember you by and take the opportunity to self-promote. "Thanks for having me guys! You were great. I teach on Thursday at 5:30. Come and see me!"

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