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Switching Up the Schedule

One of the hardest parts of running a smooth operation is creating a schedule that works. I know it can make a manager just about cross-eyed looking at all those time slots and different types of classes and then juggling them with the availability of your instructors. Sometimes just knowing there is a hot body with a pulse who wants to get up at 5:00 a.m. and teach a 5:30 class to those happy morning people makes you sigh with relief.

 

I'm going to upset the pot here by suggesting that rotating your instructors is a good idea and maybe even one that you may consider requiring, at least for certain classes. I'm not suggesting scrapping your schedule, but if you have had the same instructors in the same time slots and classes for more than a year, it may very well be time to make some changes. If your summer schedule is already up and posted, then consider it for the fall.

 

I come at this from two viewpoints. The first viewpoint is from the members’ perspective. People get very used to an instructor and that doesn't serve a program if the members don't get exposed to your other instructors. The effectiveness of even the greatest instructors can wear off after six months or a year. Think about our education system. Children change teachers every nine months from grades one through six. Then in junior high and high school, they change teachers for every course they take. College is the same way. By the time people reach adulthood, they should expect to have different instructors. The members are less likely to change their workout time slots, so it is up to the management to provide those changes so the members gain the benefit of working with different teachers.

 

The second viewpoint is from the instructors’ perspective. Fitness teachers who keep the same time slots for months and months, or worse, years and years, may lose their ability to remain professional with the members. The members often start to view the instructor as a friend, which sets up all kinds of discipline problems in the classroom that an instructor who views him or herself as a friend will then be unable to handle. Some of these problems are tardiness, talking and the forming of cliques. It can drive other clients away who don't want to be subjected to that. Some instructors also get lazy about their music and class planning and no longer challenge the members because they have fallen into their comfort zone and turned on auto-pilot. There are always exceptions to this, and as a manager, you will know who on staff is a go getter and who is on auto-pilot.

 

So if you have not considered changing up your schedule, choose one class and start slow. Weekend classes work well by just scheduling a different instructor for each Saturday at 9:00 so that they rotate through and members get exposed to all the talent that you have. Another way you can work this is to stagger your instructors so that "Mary" teaches Monday at 6:30, but "Carl" teaches Wednesday at 6:30. If you are already doing that, look elsewhere on your schedule to see if there is a time slot that has been "owned" by someone for more than a year and consider how that instructor is doing. Assess his or her teaching skills, survey the members taking that time slot and generally gather information to see how effective the instructor is with those students. If there is room for improvement, or the members are bored, go from there. It is always best to first find out if there is a problem before charging in to fix what isn't broken!

  Sabrina Fairchild

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