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Monday, July 9, 2018
The Difference Between a Good Instructor and a Great Instructor
by Kimberly Huff, MS, CSCS 

A good instructor can design a class that includes a cardiovascular, muscular conditioning and flexibility component.  A great instructor will be able to explain to the class the benefit of each component. For example, cardiovascular exercise decreases the risk of many diseases and chronic conditions and improves the ability to perform daily activities, hobbies and participate in recreational activities.  Muscular conditioning exercises improve strength and endurance necessary for functional movements as well as movements necessary for hobbies and recreational activities.  Muscular conditioning exercises also help to manage chronic conditions and improve strength and endurance to perform cardiovascular exercise.  Flexibility exercises improve the ability to perform daily activities, hobbies, recreational activities as well as improve the ability to perform cardiovascular exercise and muscular conditioning exercises and possibly help to manage joint and back pain.

A good instructor will add variety to classes by using interval training, circuit training and continuous training formats.  A great instructor will be able to explain the difference between the formats, the benefits of each format and understand the best setting in which to use each format.  Continuous training provides a moderate to vigorous cardiovascular workout that can be easily modified for a variety of fitness levels.  Circuit training includes stations or segments of cardiovascular, muscular conditioning, flexibility, power, agility, balance or gait training exercises.  Circuits may also include exercises with specific functional purposes such as dressing, shopping, housework, gardening, or sports specific movements.  Interval training, cycles of higher intensity work followed by lower intensity recovery cycles, allows for exercising at intensities higher than what may be achieved with other training formats.  Higher intensity interval training has been proven to result in greater gains in cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength and endurance, better weight management, and better management of some chronic conditions than continuous training.  Interval workouts also allow for intensities that will improve power and reaction time which is necessary for daily activities, hobbies and recreational and competitive activities. 

A good instructor can create a class that addresses muscle balance by including exercises for muscle pairs.  A great instructor will be able to explain that muscle balance is necessary for efficient movement with daily activities, hobbies and recreational activities.  A great instructor will also understand that including exercises for opposing muscle groups will address muscle imbalances that occur as a result of daily activities or habits.  For example, including exercises that focus on the posterior muscles of the upper back and shoulders can balance the rounded shoulder forward head posture often attributed to texting or working at a computer.  These exercises will also balance out the anterior muscles that may be over developed from doing housework or playing tennis or golf.

A good instructor will include balance exercises and power and agility drills to add variety and an increased challenge to the workout.  A great instructor will be able to explain the necessity of balance, power and agility training in terms of improving functional movements or the ability to perform hobbies or recreational activities.  A great instructor will also be able to create exercises that will mimic those functional or recreational movements and provide necessary challenges to improve the ability to perform those movements.  A great instructor will also understand how to safely incorporate these exercises into a class and to provide modifications when necessary.

A good instructor will spend time learning new choreography and creative exercises to add variety and energize the workout.  A great instructor will further their education and understanding of exercise principles and theories, so they can design creative choreography, exercises and class formats that will benefit their participants whether they are teaching classes for people that are interested in maintaining or improving their ability to perform activities of daily living or continue to participate in their favorite hobbies or compete in recreational activities.

A good instructor can provide a class that provides a safe workout based on general exercise guidelines.  A great instructor will have the knowledge of exercise principles and techniques necessary to establish the sense of purpose for every component of the class as well as each exercise included in the class.  Studies have shown that when participants understand the purpose of the workout and believe the workout will be beneficial, adherence will improve.  Participants that are engaged in the workout and adhere to the program are more likely to experience the benefits of the exercises.

A good instructor will have participants that exercise, a great instructor will have participants that see results!



Kimberly Huff, MS, CSCS is the Fitness Director in an ACTS Life Care Retirement Community in Maryland.  She is certified through ACSM, NSCA, AEA, ATRI and ACE.  She specializes in program design for the aging population.  Kim is an AEA Training Specialist and presents certification review courses ACSM.

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