Teaching Yoga at a Fitness Center

         

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Gym rat become blissed out yogini? What better way to blend your passions that teaching yoga at your gym! You might be surprised, though, at how beneficial teaching at the gym can be even for yogis who’ve never lifted more than bolster or stepped on anything that moved underneath them.

Teaching at a gym often comes with a free membership, so if you do use the facilities this is a bonus that can be a welcome supplement to what is usually lower pay than teaching at a studio.

Why bother if the pay can be lower? The benefits are immense, especially for newer teachers finding their voice and building a following. At studios, the known teachers attract most of the students, and if you’re being paid per student, you need to have a following for the numbers to work in your favor. How do you become known? One excellent way is... you guessed it! Teach at a gym. One thing you don’t have to take care of when you teach at a gym is marketing.  They list your name and your class on their schedule and they create and hand out flyers, websites and other materials for their members. Fabulous: that’s one thing off your plate while you’re learning your craft.

In addition, most gyms don’t have a non-compete clause in their contractor agreements, so when you move on you can bring your students. Most yoga studios, however, have a clause about advertising your out-of-studio teaching to their students that acts as a damper when you move on. This makes sense for the studio; they have a great deal invested in creating a brand. But unless you’ve got a brand, it can leave you building from scratch if you move or just decide for a change.

While yoga studios are often the connoisseur's choice, and people often choose the class according to the teacher, gym yogis are more about the class. This may seem backwards at first: studio yogis can be more driven by personality, while gym yogis are there for the movement. But dedicated gym folks schedule their gym time and often won’t re-arrange their schedule for a class, so if your class is at the right time, they’re coming whether they like your yoga top or not. This is an advantage, because one of the hidden talents new teachers are learning is how to hold the seat of the teacher. Only experience can teach you how you want to greet students, introduce yourself, maintain the classroom in quiet or in laughter and how much personal detail you want to share. People will show up because you’re there, and this gives you a perfect opportunity to experiment with your presentation and patter. Change something and notice how your change affects attendance. As you start to build a following, you might even be able to poll a core group of your students.

Teaching yoga at the gym also builds your ability to explain very esoteric concepts in clear, concrete physical and common terms. While in your yoga teacher training, it was probably common to describe poses and movements as “blossoming” or “flowing,” and you probably got a lot of mileage out of just referencing the “root chakra,” the currency in a gym yoga class is more often anatomical and physical. This no woo-woo approach can inject a healthy dose of rigor into your instruction. How to describe Camel pose without mentioning heart opening or Manipura Chakra? It’s all about the body.

The more standard and expectable your class is, the better at a gym. While spontaneity is always welcome and teaching the very same class over and over again isn’t going to go over, having a general rhythm that people become accustomed to will keep your students coming back. This aspect trains you in sequencing and gives you set of templates that you can rely on and build upon for time to come.

Having the space, the props and people provided with support like desk staff and rosters and maintenance crews aren’t the only benefits to teaching yoga at the gym. You may find you enjoy the no-nonsense atmosphere and bringing your message to people who are more comfortable with a dumbbell than a yoga block.


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