The most essential piece of gear I have in my arsenal of fitness paraphenalia is not my CD case, it’s not my foam roller, and it is not my heart rate monitor. It is so simple and yet so often overlooked by many professionals who seek to improve their performance in any arena. The most essential item I have and which I keep by my side throughout the day and by my bed at night is my fitness notebook. That’s right. A spiral bound “Fat Book” that fits nicely in my purse or gym bag and holds a ball point pen snugly enough that I rarely find myself hunting for a writing tool. Paper, plain and simple.
A notebook? Think of the commercial about “Ideas” … the one about the businessmen frantically trying to write down their “Ah-ha!” before it is lost forever. It isn’t so much the pen and paper as it is each idea that has been preserved by merely writing it down. I can’t count (mostly since I can’t remember) how many brilliant plans have come and gone that could have been my ticket to success if only I hadn’t forgotten them!!! Since our memories are untrustworthy, we employ a simple notebook to carry everywhere and use whenever inspiration strikes. While I don’t encourage you to cause traffic jams or get stuck in the elevator when inspiration strikes, I do want you to harness that energy and save it for when you can use it.
The Worthy Word
Once you’ve got the notebook, what should you put in it? This will largely depend on your personal needs and memory tolerance. I have some suggestions, but ultimately you will write down every single thought you have that will lead to your improvement as a group fitness instructor. At first, it might seem like a chore, but once you start to reap the benefits, it won’t take much effort at all.
It is helpful to divide your notebook into sections that reflect the areas you are committed to improving. For instance, my notebook includes sections labeled Choreography, Member Profiles, Class Logs, and Other. In the Choreography tab, I write down any ideas I have about moves or combinations I can use in my classes. In Member Profiles I take notes about my students that will help me remember their names, their history, and other tidbits that help me reconnect with them every time they come to my class. Class Logs is where I take notes at the end of each of my classes to remind myself what CD I played, what moves we did, and feedback I received. Finally, the Other tab is where I put all the other miscellaneous streams of information that I want to access later on. It is anything that does not fall under the other categories, but that could help me in some way. Dates, phone numbers, web sites…. they all get filed in the Other category.
What’s in it for me?
Your students will be amazed (and hooked!) when you call them by their name and ask about their lives as they enter your class. It is much more likely that you will remember them if you keep a list of the names of the folks you meet and a brief description to remind you who the name belongs to. This type of personalized service is what will impress them and put you at the top of their list of favorite instructors.
You’ll also gain better clarity about your class structure and create patterns that make class preparation faster and simpler. The lists of moves and ideas for your classes that you’ve already compiled will turn themselves into a class plan much faster than starting with a blank slate. Keeping a log will help you recycle your moves on a schedule that keeps you seeming fresh, rather than getting stuck in your ways. Finally, better organization will improve your confidence in front of your students, which will give them greater trust in your abilities. All very big pluses for you, the instructor!
Keep those ideas coming!
By now, you recognize the value that keeping an idea notebook can have for you. It will take some discipline in the beginning to keep it with you at all times. Commit to keeping it on your person at all times for two weeks. By the time two weeks are up, the habit will be well-established. You will also be well on your way to developing into the kind of superstar instructor you want to be! Just keep saving your ideas in your newest piece of can’t-live-without fitness gear.