As an actor since the age of 6, I am fully acquainted with the dreaded "audition". Butterflies in the stomach.....fears of forgetting your lines....hoping you don't do those silly arm movements that everyone brings to your attention in acting class. Happens every time, but I'm used to auditions and I know they're not going away. And at the end of the day, I know that I have done the preparation and that I have talent, so I've learned to let the auditions roll off my back as soon as I leave the audition room.
If you're new to teaching in the fitness world, you might as well get used to the big bad audition. Fortunately, you most likely won't have to audition anywhere near the number of times as an actor throughout the span of your career and you'll be able to showcase your skills for longer than 5 minutes. And, if your first audition doesn't go so well, the studio or gym may be willing to have you try again after some more practice. If only it were the same in the acting world!!!
As a fitness lead and trainer of instructors at my gym, I have gotten to see my fair share of instructor auditions, as well as help several new-to-teaching cycling instructors prepare for them. Luckily, the majority of auditions go successfully. Those who decide to take the next step in their fitness journey as a leader, usually have built up the skills and confidence to succeed. However, there are some things that tend to get glossed over or that require improvement that I see as a trend for new instructors.
Here are my top 5 tips when auditioning for your first instructor position:
1. Know the Requirements
This seems like a no-brainer, but many times auditioning individuals will fail to actually ask what the audition must include. Because I want to see them succeed, I'll be sure to send them our list of requirements, but you might not have that luxury from other places of employment. Here are some valuable questions to ask:
-How long is the audition?
-What types of skills do you want to see (ie hills and sprints in a cycling audition, sun salutations in a yoga audition, bell curve of intensity etc)
-Is there anything you discourage in this type of fitness? An example of this, in our gym, we do not want our cycling instructors to do one-legged pedaling for safety reasons. Be sure you know the "style" that they choose to showcase.
-What type of cues do they want to hear?
My guess is once you ask them for the requirements of the audition, they'll list out everything clearly for you. If not, then these tips will come even more in handy!
2. Know Your Settings
Be sure that you are acquainted with the person(s) that you will be auditioning for and what the setting will be. Are you auditioning for experienced fitness participants? Do they know your area of specialty? Will you have access to sound equipment, a microphone? What type of exercise equipment is available? Are there mirrors? I recommend asking these questions in advance and if you have never been to the location, arrive early so you can take some time to scope the scene.
3. Have Good Music
Music is SOOOO important in fitness. Outside of certain styles of yoga, I cannot think off of the top of my head of a fitness class that doesn't need music. The music you choose should not just be your shuffle playlist of songs that you've liked on whatever platform you use (I highly recommend Spotify premium though!--see my playlists here). The music should be hand selected and organized to match the energy and mood of the class. For example, when I do a sprinting drill on the bike, I find a very high energy song that drives the participants to pedal harder and faster. When it's savasana in yoga, I find a very mellow, relaxing, lyric free song. (Lyrics during savasana, in my humble opinion, are very distracting) Take the time to make a well thought out playlist (with edited/clean versions of songs!!); your participants at the audition WILL notice and most likely comment on it.
4. Create an Introduction/Closing
At my gym, we require our instructors to do a standard introduction and closing at EVERY class they teach. 9 times out of 10, once you start teaching, you will have someone completely new to your class or the type of fitness altogether. It is for those individuals (and potential future regulars!) especially that you give a thorough and rehearsed script to your class before starting and upon ending. This language is one of the biggest parts of the audition for us.
Here's what we require; I think it's a really good standard
-Introduce yourself, the class name, the length of the class, ask if anyone is new and welcome them and thank your returnees, and explain what participants can expect
-Encourage safety and modifications
-Explain equipment/set up/form
-Give words of encouragement and build excitement!
-Have big energy!!!!
-Congratulate and thank everyone for their hard work
-Explain equipment clean up, storage
-Let people know you are available for questions, comments
-Promote your next class time/day
-Tell everyone to have a great day/goodbyes
So here's what a standard introduction to my cycling class sounds like:
Hey everyone! How's everyone doing!? My name is Cara, welcome to Rhythm and Sweat Cycle. Is there anyone new to my class or spinning? Awesome! Welcome and thanks for trying this out. As always, thank you to my regulars for coming back. This is a 1 hour, high energy cardio class with a mid class recovery break. We will do some sprints, jumps, passes, and hills based around the beat of the music or a range of RPM's. Please take breaks, drink water whenever you need to and if at any time you need to change a setting on the bike or modify the drill, please do so so that you are comfortable and feeling good.
Let's set up our bike:
(this is where I explain how to adjust the bike seat/handlebars etc)
Here's how I like to cue my class:
(this is where I explain how the computers on the bike work, how I will cue speed/resistance etc)
Remember to keep good form on the bike: knees straight forward, flat feet, shoulders down and back, core engaged, long spine, breathing in the nose and out the mouth, and have fun!! Are we ready!!??? Let's do it!
Standard cycling closing:
Wooo!! Give yourselves a hand! Thanks for your hard work everyone! Please take a second to wipe down your bike with the provided sani-wipes and also lower your handlebars and seat to the lowest position. Again, my name is Cara, feel free to come chat with me if you have any questions or anything, otherwise, I'll see you next week, same place same time! Have a great rest of your day.
I strongly, STRONGLY, encourage you prepare a memorized introduction and closing at your audition. It will impress your participants and show that you care about providing a welcoming and safe environment for your students. Make your voice big and sound excited. If you have to fake it, fake it til you make it. That is one of the hardest things to teach people. They might be the most well taught instructor in their field, but if they cannot get the class excited for the experience, then it will fall short of its potential.
5. Engage, Engage, Engage
Your future supervisors and managers want to see that you can connect with students and keep them coming back. On top of that, they want to see that you are noticing if the students are doing well, or if there is a safety issue to be addressed. Fitness classes should be fun for the participants and people want to feel like they are an important part to the success of the class. Eye contact, knowing names, encouragement, and of course cueing are crucial parts to being a good instructor. When I train cycling instructors, I tell them to remind people to drink water, breathe, keep their shoulders back etc in order to retain safety. I always cue speed and intensity every time I change something in a drill. I ask participants how they are feeling, I exclaim A LOT (Wooo! Yeah!! That's it!!! Keep it up!! --to name just a few) Obviously, if you are teaching a restorative yoga class, your engagement is to be modified to the mood of the class, but still just as important. If your audition has just a few people participating (we often times only have 2 people), then pretend like there are other people in the room and like I said before, fake it til you make it. It's better to overdo the engagement than to under-do it. Not to say you should be talking the whole time, that's not necessary, but you should find at least 3 opportunities to offer encouragement and 3 opportunities to cue on form/safety during your audition. AT LEAST.
And there you have it! My top 5 tips for your first fitness audition. Just remember, the folks at your audition are opening the doors for you to be yourself and lead them as you see best. They want you to be you, otherwise they wouldn't have asked you to audition! Have fun and try not to let the butterflies get you down. :)
Feel free to ask me any questions! I wish you success in your fitness career!