What I Learned About Great PD At My Weekend Exercise Class

Feb 12, 2016

A friend recently invited me to guest pass into her fancy exercise class. Why not, right? And in the middle of my fortieth push up (and concurrent realization I was not as physically strong as I thought I was), I found myself thinking, “I would do this class again.” Here’s why: The instruction was so darn good.

I’ve written before about Together Tips for great PD, but these guys took it up a notch. Here’s what I observed that made me feel good, work hard and want to come back:

  1. Warm welcome at the door. Your name was on a checklist, but the instructor was also sitting there, waiting for you, asking your name, and welcoming you. This is the reason I always like to have materials set up way in advance of my workshops.
  1. Constant, small bits of differentiation. For every single set, there was always an “option:” a way to make the workout harder if you wanted. You could take the “option” for 10 reps or just 2. I currently have differentiation options during my session “work bursts,” but I’m inspired now to think of ways to use more “options” throughout.
  1. One-on-one attention for those who are struggling. Let’s say somebody was having a hard time following the sequence (asking for a friend, ahem). The instructor seated me by my own friend deliberately, both for encouragement and modeling. And she also came over to help adjust me throughout the class – all while not missing a beat with the larger group.
  1. Many personalized encouragements AND corrections. During the class, I heard both “Way to stay strong, Maia,” and “Maia, you just chilling out over there?” Whoops. Well, planks are HARD. And I’m a bit of a slacker, but I appreciated the call-outs.
  1. Thinking three steps ahead of the participants. This particular class required a lot of mats, weights, and other workout gizmos. The instructor narrated where to get each set of materials and how to return them. AND she was always two steps ahead of us, doing things like passing out stretching straps before we needed them. She did this all while she was teaching.
  1. Sincere positive group narration. There was a lot of, “Great hustle, everyone!” and “Glad to see you took the option to extend today.” It didn’t sound bizarrely cheesy or annoying because, well, it was authentic.
  1. Articulation of where we were in the process. This may be my favorite. Before and during every set, our instructor would say something like, “This is the second to last leg exercise,” or “This is our most challenging set and a stretch is coming.” So when I thought I was dying or couldn’t take it anymore, I could see what was next and pace myself accordingly. For great PD, this can look like referring back to the agenda and objectives between each section and even saying things like, “Last tough thing before lunch!” I always do that for the Later List section of my trainings, and now I’m wondering where else it might be useful.