Set the right expectations…for EVERYTHING. Usually we set the expectations for movement standards, culture, and attitude, but we also need to remember to set expectations for equipment usage. I had an athlete drop a completely empty bar from overhead 5 feet in front of me. My heart and soul were crushed.
Be prepared for handling ‘front desk’ logistics. Since we don’t have a front desk, I need to be better prepared to receive drop-in’s and getting waivers filled out. I always forget to ask for waivers for athletes’ guests.
Learn everyone’s story. It’s important to understand why each member shows up. Is it to get fitter? Look better in a bathing suit? To be around longer for their grandkids? To be around good people? Knowing what makes them tick will help you connect with each athlete. Seek first to understand, then be understood.
Speak to the average skill level of the class. If the class has an average intermediate skill level, then you can focus a bit more on the advanced techniques, then have side conversations for the beginners or advanced athletes. Don’t get caught spending too much time explaining modifications for one beginner if the rest of the class is a bit more advanced. And vice versa.
Inspect equipment regularly for defects or malfunctions. There was a resistance band that snapped during class. These things will happen, but make sure to mitigate it by routinely checking items.
Coaches need coaches. It’s not enough to just pass seminars or get certificates. Just like in other industries or aspects of life, a mentor is needed for continual growth. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so learn from others that have already walked the path.
Learn by observing other classes. You don’t have to always be coaching or participating in a class. I learned how to scale for a 60+ year old grandpa with Fibromyalgia by just observing.
Youth doesn’t translate to higher fitness level. I had a 15-year-old that I had the mistake of assuming he had greater capacity, but moved similarly to a deconditioned 40-year-old.
Use the warm-up to assess fitness capacity and movement mechanics. This was useful for the above scenario of testing a new athlete, regardless of age.
Get your reps in. Just like with anything that we’re trying to improve in, experience is important. It’s hard to become a great coach if you only do 1 or 2 classes per week.