No man is an island, and neither is an instructor! Creating bonds with other instructors in your community can open you up to new opportunities, help you grow as an instructor, and provide you with a network you can draw upon for support and collaboration. But how exactly do you go about building this network? It may not come intuitively for everyone, which is why we asked cycle instructor Jami Crist of REV Cycle Studio for her advice on how to establish roots in your local fitness community.
1. Start by connecting with instructors at your studio
This first one may sound obvious, but a good place to start connecting with instructors is at your own studio. Maybe you are a contracted instructor, or maybe you just started at a new studio, but the best place to start connecting is right at home base with your co-workers.
You can learn from the instructors at your studio and keep yourself on your toes, according to Crist: “It’s always enjoyable to collaborate with other instructors from our studio who have both different styles of music and ways of teaching. The spectrum of music and style gives a certain element of diversity and uniqueness that serves each client differently.”
If you get in for your shift early, pop your head into a class that’s already going on and stick around to help clean up while talking with the instructor about what is working for them, what music they’re playing, or any new training or techniques they may have learned recently. Don’t be afraid to check in with your team of instructors, including anyone you may not be as close to—the more different their style is from yours, the more you will have to compare and share.
2. Attend other instructors’ classes
Another way to connect with instructors in your community is by dropping in to take a class with them. If there is an instructor in your area that you admire, or someone who has popped up on your radar, make the effort to check out one of their classes and try to connect afterwards for coffee or juice.
This can accomplish a few things at once: 1) you show that instructor your support by attending their class; 2) you learn firsthand about their energy, teaching style and training techniques; 3) you establish a relationship with another member of the fitness community that could come in handy, whether for professional or personal development.
Establish a relationship with another member of the fitness community that could come in handy, whether for professional or personal development.
Crist supports this, “I learn so much every time I attend another class or even just share a teaching space with another instructor. Their perspectives can elevate your own performance. And that’s what it’s all about—elevating each other and setting that tone for your clients.”
3. Go to local fitness/health events
Check out what local events related to fitness and health may be happening in your area, such as conferences, wellness brand pop-ups, yoga festivals, etc. Consider either going to see what other fitness studios or instructors may be there, or to potentially set up a stand or get involved! Getting out into the community is a great way to meet new people and make contacts — not to mention draw more potential clients to your studio and classes. And while it’s definitely valuable to attend national fitness conferences, getting to know others in the fitness industry in your own community can have a more immediate and longer lasting impact on your growth as an instructor.
Crist goes into the local community to network and meet new contacts while representing her studio, REV. “I’m always grateful when I meet other instructors who share my love for this field, and I thank them for keeping me motivated. I love to attend events to connect and network like crazy!” To make the most of these events, be sure to wear your studio’s swag, share Instagram handles or email addresses, or potentially give out business cards to help make the connection and strike up an ongoing conversation with other fitness professionals.
4. Show your support on social media
After making some initial contact with other instructors, you’ll have to continue cultivating those bonds, and social media is a great tool to do so with relative ease.
Crist says, “Social media is the #1 spot for people to look for fitness inspiration. Supporting other instructors through social media can be as easy as posting a few fitness photos together. Talk about your friendship and why fitness inspires you both. How do you hold each other accountable? Do they inspire you? Tell the story of how you support them and how they support you.”
When you connect with an instructor, whether that person is at your studio or in your community, reach out to them on social media to draw on the followers you both have expand your influence. If you go to a local event or drop into someone’s class, snap a few pictures together and tag each other to solidify that bond. You could even collaborate on social media for a monthly challenge, or support each other through cross-posts on social media now and then.
5. Collaborate in a class or workshop
For Crist, the best way to connect with instructors is through a class collaboration in which you join forces to teach a class or host a workshop together. Maybe you both teach the same type of workout genre like HIIT, or maybe one of you teaches barre and one of you teaches yoga—combine your talents and collaborate on a class together!
Crist shares, “Clients come to different instructors for all different reasons–it might be their music, their messages, or their style of teaching. Every instructor has something that makes that client want to come back.”
Talk to your boss if you want to bring them in for a class and vice versa to see if that’s something they’d be open to doing. Or maybe you can find a space outside of your studios to do a collaborative workout together at a community space. This can be great because it expands your network of potential clients and helps you both stay sharp by learning from each other.
Why is this all so important for instructors to work on? Crist sums it up with her take on connecting with instructors for mutual benefit, “To do this day, some instructors have become like family to me. We are all trying to create a movement in our city through fitness. At times, it can be hard when you are teaching by yourself and you start to wonder… how am I doing, do people still like my class? How’s my music, am I even good? As instructors, these thoughts will arise at certain points in time. Having other instructors who understand how it feels and who can give you feedback you want is crucial.”