When scheduling fitness classes at your community rec center, it’s important to focus on time slots and facility space. However, it’s also easy to overlook the most important factor: the instructors who make the classes possible.
According to Hannah Patrick, the group fitness coordinator at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, Arizona, instructors come first. “Classes are certainly important, but instructors are more important,” she said. “My biggest purpose is to take care of my instructors and let them know I appreciate them.”
How do you take care of your instructors? Patrick finds that hiring a group of preferred subs is key. “I want our regular teachers to know that life happens and if they can’t make a class, that’s OK,” she explained. “We have a team of people here to support them — I don’t want my regular instructors to feel like they can’t ever leave.”
When hiring subs, it’s necessary to be clear that they won’t be teaching every week, but they need to be available to cover a class when requested. Having a contact list is the best way to keep preferred subs organized and able to be quickly reached out to when needed, which happens “literally every day,” according to Patrick. “That’s the best part of my job – people really embrace the team aspect and step up to help their fellow teachers,” she said.
Another key aspect to scheduling with the instructors in mind is communication. At times, a class may begin underperforming, so it’s necessary for coordinators to step in and work with the instructor to develop a plan of action. “My plan is to communicate with the instructor, and they are not surprised — they see that their class isn’t doing well,” said Patrick.
If the coordinator and instructor believe there is still potential for the underperforming class, they will make an effort to market it through word of mouth, flyers and electronic signage to see if the problem can be fixed. If not, Patrick gives the instructor a window of time to inform the current class participants. “I expect to get a few angry members, but I always tell them it’s in an effort to create a more successful class,” she explained.
Juggling a vast programming schedule can be a challenge, but Patrick has found the biggest challenge is pleasing everyone. “There are so many great instructors who appeal to certain people and don’t appeal to others, so it’s a matter of making the schedule diverse and appealing to a wide range of ages and abilities,” she said. “Listen to members for sure, but also stick with your guns and know that you can’t please everybody.”