Ahhh, yes. Summer is here. The weather has turned hot, my mailbox is stuffed with wedding and graduation announcements, and my inbox is flooded with requests for subs. It’s not so much summer anymore, as it is sub season. In spite of the fact that members start heading outside, leaving your classes a little more sparse, exciting things can happen during sub season. Here are a few things to help you make the most of it.
Since it is sub season, you can expect that the pool of available instructors to cover for you will be smaller than usual. It is important that you request coverage 4-6 weeks in advance of your planned vacation to ensure that you get a sub. It is very stressful to everyone involved if you wait until the last minute to get a sub, only to learn that anyone who could have covered has made other plans. One of my personal rules is my “Golden Rule of Subbing”: Sub unto others as you would have them sub unto you. You wouldn’t want to get an emergency call two hours before a big class, so don’t put anyone else in that situation.
Also, if you need a lot of subs, return the favors as often as you can. My favorite instructors to cover for are the ones who volunteer to “give me a day off” in return for subbing for them. Even if I don’t take them up on it, it reflects the right way to treat your coworkers.
Get More Experience
If you are new to teaching and want to increase your opportunities to pick up regular classes, get on as many sub lists as you can now! If you are already on sub lists, but you are unknown to the instructors at the club, get permission from the director to send out an introduction email. After a greeting, and brief description of yourself and your abilities (2-3 sentences is sufficient unless you are wildly experienced or specialized), offer your services to anyone who will need coverage. Some instructors prefer to email directly the folks they know are willing to cover for them so as not to bother the entire list. After you start receiving the mass email requests, respond to them all, even if you can’t cover. In some cases, this may not be taken well, but usually it will be a great chance to develop a rapport with your colleagues. This could lead to them asking you directly the next time an opportunity arises, especially if you have a one-time conflict with the day they need a sub.
Care for yourself
There is only one of you, and if you want to keep doing this Group Fitness thing long term, you have to take care of yourself! I find that summer is usually when I get the most burnt out, and suffer the most injuries. This is due in no small part to the drastic increase in the number of classes I end up teaching. Here are some basic tips:
- Allow yourself to rest completely between intense workouts and/or classes. You know what overtraining is, and you are not immune to it, so pay attention to your body! AFAA recommends no more than 12 classes per week.
- Don’t push it if you have an injury — you don’t want to end up out of the game completely.
- Protect your voice by always using a microphone. Pack extra batteries to have in case the gym doesn’t have any.
- Stay hydrated and well-fed, but avoid consuming food 2-3 hours before classes.
Here’s wishing you a happy sub season!!