There is much said about the detrimental effects of overtraining (a google search finds over one million results), but a different side of the same coin, and a rarely discussed one, is the subject matter of over-teaching.

While there is no official definition of over-teaching, you might be familiar with some of the symptoms which result in lacklustre classes that neither you nor your participants enjoy. While the literature on physical overtraining can also be applied to over-teaching, as Instructors we have to cope with the additional mental demands which include: learning choreography, having to be “on” when teaching (when you are feeling anything but) and the energy that goes with “giving yourself” to classes. Some of the signs of overteaching include:

  • Lack of enjoyment from your class
  • No motivation to learn choreography, or up-skill
  • As soon as one class is finished, immediately dreading the next one
  • Class numbers dwindling for no apparent reason
  • Having ‘nothing to give’ classes (mentally, emotionally)
  • Feeling extra drained after teaching a class
  • Becoming increasingly intolerant of behavior that never used to phase you in classes (for example, members chatting, not putting in maximum effort or doing their own thing)

There will certainly be days where you feel all of these things – we’ve all been there! But when you are consistently experiencing these signs over a prolonged period of time, it might be time to try out the following:

Get covers for a set period of time

There is a saying that goes ‘when you get tired don’t quit, just rest’. Before you throw in the towel in pure exhaustion, cut yourself some slack. Take a week or two off teaching your classes to rest and recover.

Make sure you have a rest day

As many sports coaches will attest, the most important day of your training cycle is your rest day.

Do you need more “you” time?

Anyone in the business knows that teaching isn’t simply a 55-minute gig – there is the learning choreography and up-skilling that adds hours on to that one class, and multiplied if you teach more than one program! Are your classes leaving no ‘you’ time? Do you need to dedicate some time to do your own training or other hobbies? You can’t ‘give’ yourself over to a class if you have nothing to give from. Does that mean you give up one class? One of your programs? This is better than the alternative of quitting altogether.

Are you demotivated?

Do you need a ‘pep’ to find your mojo again? These might help:

  • Find a buddy to team-teach with (always more fun!)
  • Participate in someone else’s class (perhaps a program you don’t teach or have never done)
  • Get re-inspired with like-minded individuals at a Quarterly Workshop, or upskill at Advanced Training

Classes the same-same? Yawn.

Bored? Bored teaching? Teaching is boring? Every. Single. Class like deja vu? Try focusing on different aspects of your teaching to make classes feel more interesting and reignite your enthusiasm. For example:

  • Remind yourself of the Track Focus in your choreography notes and teach authentically from that focus
  • Concentrate on your Layer Two coaching or an aspect of coaching to nail during the class
  • Allow the music to speak more than you normally do
  • Choose a key element focus: e.g. today I’m going to focus on Connection, today I’m going to focus on the best Technique

Teaching should be a source of enjoyment

We don’t always get it right. Some weeks are better than others (did I really agree to all those fills?), but if the overarching feeling toward your classes is anything but enjoyment or satisfaction, perhaps it is time to reassess. The people in front of you vibe from your energy and classes are no fun for anyone when the energy levels are low. The benefits of the right blend of permanent classes and program types (for those teaching multiple programs) is that teaching is a source of joy for you, a job that fills you up rather than drains you.

There is no magic number or perfect blend of classes you should be teaching. Keep checking in on yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are doing an important job – and that important job requires you to look after yourself so you can look after those in front of you.

Marie Anagnostis is Marketing Communications Manager (Australia) for Les Mills Asia Pacific. She first trained on BODYATTACK 52 and has since trained in 5 other programs. She now actively teaches BODYPUMP, CXWORX and BODYBALANCE/BODYFLOW. In her spare time, she emulates her paid work: when she's not teaching classes she's hanging out on the gym-floor and when she's not writing for LMAP she is writing for her blog: Wretched (www.wretched.com.au) - Anti-Fitness-Fitness-Club.