Teaching tip: How to find inspiration outside of your classes

Joash Fahitua is a former professional dancer and Masterclass presenter for LES MILLS GRIT, BODYBALANCE and LES MILLS BARRE. He shares his top tips for enhancing your teaching by looking outside your classes.

Try an acting workshop

"Acting workshops are great because they help you with your presenting skills and your vocals, but they will often get you moving your body in unusual ways too.

If you teach BODYPUMP™, for example, you probably feel very comfortable doing deadlifts, squats, lunges… all of those movements you do repeatedly in the class. Trying something that you think is really wack is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and feel very connected to your body!

Another way to do this is to take a class that you would never teach in a million years. If the idea of doing BODYJAM™ is absolutely terrifying, or you feel really intimidated by BODYCOMBAT™, just give it a try. I like to throw random classes into my schedule just to mix things up. It creates new neural pathways in the brain and nervous system that help keep me sharp."

Take someone else’s class

"I like to go to other people’s classes to listen to how they talk, see how they move, how they shift the energy – just soak it all up.

For example, if I go to a yoga class and I like how the teacher said or showed something, I’ll try to analyze how they did it and use it as my own professional development. The teacher might talk about using the breath, and I’ll then work out how I could take the type of cue she used and apply it to my coaching in LES MILLS GRIT™. I might need to change the words a little bit, but I can use the same message, just flip it around to suit the program.

I love going to boxing classes. My coach is a professional boxer, and to see how someone moves who’s been in over 100 fights is really inspirational. He definitely knows what he’s talking about, and I try to take little nuggets from him and apply them to my own classes. Even though it’s a different format from Les Mills, I can still take ideas from his sessions into my classes at the gym."

Find ways to be creative

"I’m a very visual person. My wife tells me I’m very observant, always noticing what’s going on around me, and that’s probably from my years as a dancer, when I had to pay attention to catching my partner!

I love watching people, and this helps feed into my coaching. Sounds strange, right? But, for example, I might be in a café and I’ll try to create a narrative for the people around me. Like – the couple over there are on their first date. That guy is stressed because he just lost his job. I try to read their body language and guess their emotions.

This exercise around freeing the mind and allowing me to tell stories helps me when it comes to creating fresh and different cues in class. I’d say a common cue people might use for a squat jump is to tell people to "fire up like a rocket". That’s probably one that everyone uses. But if you practice creating stories in your mind, you can come up with something totally different – like you’re "jumping on a springboard". It’s about being meticulous with the detail, which helps me come up with something that the class will remember. And in turn, that feeds into my performance."

Joash Fahitua is a BODYBALANCE™, LES MILLS GRIT™, LES MILLS CEREMONY™ and LES MILLS CONQUER™ Instructor. He is a dancer and choreographer and lives in Auckland.