We love teaching, and we always want to be an inspirational role-model for our participants. But what happens when we start taking on multiple HIIT classes or covering extra BODYPUMP workouts? Dr Jinger Gottschall explains how you can prioritize your health whilst still delivering the experience.

In general, I find group fitness Instructors to be passionate, social, and selfless. And I truly believe the Les Mills Tribe of Instructors exemplifies these characteristics more than any other brand. No doubt.

Your passion is evident by the amount of time you spend learning choreography, listening to music, practicing new exercises, and educating yourself about the “why”. Your social skills are apparent in how you connect to the participants in your own unique style. And your selfless nature is obvious when you place the health of others ahead of your own.

Due to these positive characteristics, you may not have the ultimate Les Mills group fitness Instructor schedule. Why? Because you want to teach. Because you want to help your facility have the strongest timetable. Because you want to be a team player for your manager and facility owner. Because you want to help a fellow Instructor who needs to take an extended time away due to personal or health reasons, so you sub for them for six weeks.

Does any of this sound familiar? Take an honest look at your current group fitness schedule. If you viewed the same program for a member would you approve the number of classes, the specific order of those classes, and the amount of intensity in those classes?

As a review, here are a few of the Les Mills participant guidelines that we promote for optimal results and minimal injury risk:

  • Take a maximum of three BODYPUMP™ classes per week and ensure they are separated by 48 hours in order to promote muscle tissue growth and recovery
  • Refrain from strength training for at least six-hours after CXWORX™ since the three-dimensional core was overloaded and may not be able to maintain stability during weighted exercises
  • Limit your vigorous intensity cardio classes (BODYATTACK™, BODYCOMBAT™, BODYSTEP™, RPM™) to two per day, preferably separated into morning and evening sessions
  • Keep your high-intensity minutes greater than 90% heart rate max, and below 9% of total exercise time, which is likely equal to two LES MILLS GRIT™ or LES MILLS SPRINT™ sessions per week.

Does your current group fitness schedule follow all of these guidelines? I am guessing for many of you the answer is no. I am also guessing for many of you it is not possible to make significant modifications to your current schedule. So here are a few tips to help prioritize your health while still being the ultimate Les Mills Instructor.

BODYPUMP overload

If you teach more than three BODYPUMP classes per week, or teach BODYPUMP on consecutive days, be deliberate about which classes you will consciously use less weight in. You can still be a motivating example with model technique and thoughtful cueing without the demanding Instructor weight if necessary. When possible, change which specific class or classes you make this adjustment for on a weekly basis.

CXWORX fatigue

If you teach CXWORX prior to BODYPUMP or without the recommended six-hour recovery, it would be ideal to use less weight. Similar to the rationale above, you can still deliver a quality class while reducing your own injury risk.

Excessive cardio

If you teach back-to-back Les Mills cardio formats, or if you teach two or more cardio classes per day, your food and fluid intake is critical to maintain energy and health. For example, if the classes start in the early morning, it is imperative you eat a small breakfast. Of if you teach one class in the early morning and another one at midday, it is critical you eat a meal within an hour of finishing your first class to promote recovery before the second. Also, hydration is important for both these scenarios, so be mindful about the amount and time of intake.

HIIT all the time

If you coach LES MILLS GRIT or SPRINT more than twice a week, be aware of how much time you are spending above 90% heart rate max during these sessions. The best method is to utilize a heart rate monitor with a chest transmitter to track your total time each week in this zone, and adjust accordingly. If you realize you are significantly above 9% total exercise time in the highest zone, spend more minutes instructing from the floor. You can easily incorporate this strategy when you are familiar with the group and they are confident with the release exercises.

In short, you can make some small adjustments to your weights, nutrition, and intensity to continue dominating as a Les Mills Instructor.

You care so-flipping-much about your classes. You care about them because you love the members. You care about them because you love to see how physical activity can bring positive change both inside and out. Just make sure that you care about yourself the same amount by making intelligent Instructor decisions. Then you will be able to maintain your positive presence in their fitness journeys!

Jinger S. Gottschall, Ph.D. earned her doctorate degree in integrative physiology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She furthered her academic career as a postdoctoral fellow in neurophysiology at the Emory School of Medicine and as an Associate Professor in kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University. She was also the founder and co-owner of FITOLOGY, a Les Mills group fitness studio. A passionate advocate for physical activity, Dr Gottschall has dedicated her career to finding programs that promote balanced, healthy lifestyle choices while delivering the results they promise.

You can find Jinger on Instagram and Facebook using the handle @jingerfitness