Q: How do I keep the “sparkle” alive in my regular students? In other words, how do I keep it fresh and fun for the students who know all the moves?
- Lynn, Hoopdance, Boise ID
Great question, Lynn! Thanks for asking. You’ve been teaching awhile, and you have developed a following of students who return to your classes again and again. Yay you!
3 Ways to Keep Your Students Hungry for MORE!
1. Don’t Give It All Away
When you first begin teaching, there is a tendency to pour all of your goodstuff into the first few classes. You are enthusiastic and excited about the material you want to share, and you cram everything you know into the first few classes. While your generosity and excitement is to be admired, this does you and your students a disservice over time.
A seasoned instructor knows how to pepper each class with just the right amount of flavor, no more and no less. Meaning, there is such a thing as too much. Less is more. Choose just 1-2 moves for each class. Focus on the bare bones of a technique, and build it over time.
Sonya has a new song to bring into her Zumba class. She loves the combinations in the chorus of the song, but admits that it’s a bit complex. What if she were to build up to it, making the same song a happy surprise for weeks to come? She starts by simplify the moves and teaching the guts of the dance to her students with her usual flair. They love it. The following week, she adds in that snazzy swagger that takes it to the next level. In week three, she suddenly brings it down to the floor and adds a turn to spice things up. Her students are giddy with delight, as she keeps them on their toes. Be willing to experiment. Keep it fresh by saving the climax so the students can take the ride with you.
Of course, the same technique can be applied to any format. Hoopdance moves are particularly progressive. Meaning, the strong the foundation the more powerful advanced techniques will be. Slowly build momentum over time, so that there is always a next place to take the dance. If your students have mastery over every move you teach, then the next few points will be most useful…
2. Get Them To FEEL Something
This is actually my #1 technique for igniting freshness in my classes. If I see a vacant stare in the front row or even feel bored myself, I always come back to this.
If you effectively prompt your students to connect to the moment, they will find something fresh every time. Yes. Every time.
After a decade of teaching, I have found that my students come back again and again not because of the moves or the techniques or because they want to be a badass booty shaker but because in my classes THEY FEEL SOMETHING. Some part of them that they haven’t connected to in awhile… it may be a physical sensation or it might be a joy they haven’t known in years… either way, if I get them to be present for only a moment, it has the power to transform them.
Your regular student, Jesse, has been super stressed out with her divorce, the move, and a career path that feels like it’s working her. She has been coming to class for months, and she is really wishing that you would teach her something new. I mean, anything really… anything to distract her from that knot in the pit of her stomach. Just as she’s about to walk out from boredom, you look across the room at her. She catches your eye… and you flash her your most winning smile and give her a quick wink. “Okay gang! Let’s kick this party up a notch and take it across the floor. Come on, follow my lead! Jesse, be my sidekick will ya? Alrighty people… let’s do this thang!”
Do what? Well, it doesn’t really matter. Make people feel like they are an essential part of what you are creating, and it won’t matter what moves you teach them. They come back because of how you make them feel.
3. Teach From WHY
That brings us to perhaps the most important point. When you get really clear on what it is you are actually teaching people (apart from the format you happen to be certified in) in changes everything.
Packed classes typically come to teachers who truly embrace their unique brand of teaching. If you want students who are loyal and engaged, you put the promise of YOU first. Ask yourself, not WHAT you teach… but WHY you teach it. Deliver that first and you will attract your peeps.
Julie has been teaching for about a year. She loves seeing her students’ faces light up when they hit the floor. But lately she’s been feeling a little overwhelmed. She’s a mom and she doesn’t have time to practice and bring in new material each week. She wonders if her students are bored like she is. Then one day, she gets an email from her student Jen, thanking her for a great class. Jen gushes that the one hour she spends dancing is the highlight of her week. And just like that, Julie wakes up to something. Omg, shut the front door, THAT’S what I used to love about dancing? When did that leave me?, she wonders. The answer… when she started focusing on pleasing everyone around her. The next week Julie steps into class with a renewed enthusiasm. She is no longer concerned with the moves… she is focused on her WHY: stress release and having fun. And of course that day she teaches the best class ever!
Of course there are many other ways to keep your students engaged and hungry for more. Regardless of how you choose to respond to the pressure to please, remember that it comes from within you. Be willing to forego moves for the magic of the moment. Your students may think they want more more more moves!!... but in reality, what they really want is more pleasure, more connection, and more fun. Keep your sights on the true prize - your WHY - and enjoy the ride.
How do YOU keep your students engaged?
Share your techniques and experiences in the COMMENTS below.
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Christabel was in the process of creating a teacher training program and was intrigued by the work I had done with Nia’s curriculum development. She hired me as a freelance Educational Consultant and I helped to co-author HoopGirl’s 3-tiered teacher training curriculum. Each level of training consisted of a three-day intensive and included over 150 pages of content and cutting-edge teaching tools.
In 2008, it became clear to me that I was meant to create something more than a local hooping empire, and I needed to free up my energies once more. I paid it forward.. handing my HoopShine mailing list over to my protégé so that I could finally devote myself to a business centered around coaching. But first, I took some much-needed downtime.
After a year hiatus, I was feeling creative but hungry for a new dance outlet. In 2009, I walked into my first Zumba class. It was like a breath of fresh air. I had found another path of movement and self-expression. I signed up for the Zumba Basic training with Zumba powerhouse Gina Grant, and I was teaching in no time. My training in Nia, Hoopdance, and business building fused perfectly... giving me an edge. My body awareness training made for a quick learning curve and made it easy for me to model complex movements with clarity. All that time spent in the hoop had freed up my body big time – my core was strong and my hips already had a life of their own. And nearly a decade of teaching and running a successful business gave me confidence and a unique perspective. I knew what not to do... how to demand my value,,, and I had countless tools to lean into as I found my way with a new discipline.
I currently teach jam-packed classes in Portland, Oregon. I have never felt more comfortable, more in demand, and at-home in my skin as a teacher. I am not telling you this to toot my own horn... I am telling you that you too can have it all as a teacher.
In the past few years, I have discovered that teaching dance fitness is something that I do for me. I dance because it keeps me healthy and sane. I teach because I love to share my enthusiasm. I build business from the ground up because I love the thrill of creating something new.
But my greatest passion is training and empowering people to share exactly who they are with the world. I love to see you light up with new understanding. I get chills when you open up to a new possibility. It makes my heart sing when your voice moves with more power than ever before. And that’s why I created The BoogieBiz™ Training Program.
I have countless teaching tools to share with you; I have logged over 1000 hours in dance fitness training environments. I am continually expanding my expertise in the realm of business development and am a recent graduate of Marie Forleo’s B School. And as an empowerment coach, I have helped hundreds of women to step into their true voice and full power.
Are you ready to join the ranks of the powerhouse teachers you look up to? Let’s do this thang.
Start From the Beginning BoogieBio PART 1
It was in October 2003 that I was given an opportunity that would truly build the foundation of what was to come. I was hired to work for Nia Technique, Inc. as the Studio Manager of the newly acquired studio and training space. While I was enjoying the freedom of being self-employed... money was extremely tight. And, the opportunity to study with the best while learning the dance fitness biz from the inside out was too good an opportunity to pass up. I relocated to Portland, Oregon without batting an eye. I still remember the impromptu and solo drive into a state that still takes my breath away.
Once again, a slave to the paycheck, I worked my ass off learning how to manage and run a dance studio that serviced hundreds of students and employed over a dozen teachers. I navigated personalities and juggled schedules. I created financial reports and became software savvy. I gained power and confidence, conquering near-paralyzing anxiety as the primary sub for Nia’s founders. (They traveled a lot). I became a biz-savvy manager, found my voice as my own teaching powerhouse, and immersed myself in more advanced training in Nia. I also dabbled in yoga, pilates, tai chi, ecstatic dance, and the other modalities offered at the studio.
Nevertheless, as a multi-passionate creative, I plateaued rather quickly. After roughly a year and a half, I was ready to resign, but my curiosity and enthusiasm were considered assets to the company. As a result, they created a position that was mutually rewarding, and I immediately began working directly with the executive team to create marketing copy and educational materials. As the Senior Editor of Educational Materials I spent long hours in the studio, translating the work into tangible teaching tools. I was blessed with the perfect opportunity to hone my natural talents for copywriting, curriculum development, marketing sound bites, and editorial revisions. Yet once again, after another couple of years with the company, it was crystal clear to us all that my insatiable creative hunger could not be satisfied in one position for long. I was clearly built to steer my own ship. I resigned from my position, and committed once again to doing my own thing.
After another transitional rough patch, fate stepped in. My dear friend, Jasmine, introduced me to another opportunity that once again changed everything. Hoopdance. It was way off my radar and didn’t quite fit into my plans... I had just launched my business as a life coach. But sometimes life offers an opportunity that is too open, too easy, and too destined to pass up. Jasmine had returned from Burning Man with a large dance hoop. She would dance with it in the studio before classes and it was nothing short of mesmerizing. People were continually approaching her, eager to learn how she was able to make it look so easy. She started with a small, informal class and quickly grew a mailing list of about 70 people. Soon after, however, she realized she didn’t really feel called to teach. Who did?
Our exposure fed my business perfectly, and classes began to sell out weeks in advance. In 2007, I made a comfortable salary teaching dance fitness classes. After only a year, I hired freelance teachers to support a demand that had grown beyond my time and energy could allow.
HoopShine was thriving.
Little did I know, the best gift of the hoop was yet to come...
Continue Reading BoogieBio Part 4 of 4
Start From the Beginning BoogieBio PART 1
The trouble was, I didn’t have a clue as to what that might be. I had always loved to write creatively, but who the heck was going to pay me to do that? I longed to help people, but conventional therapeutic training totally sucked the life out of the intuitive approach that came so naturally to me. Making money was definitely on my to-do list, but I still carried around a blue-collar mentality that kept me playing small and underestimating my worth. At that time in my life, success meant selling out and I had learned that could never sacrifice my integrity for a paycheck. Disgruntled, overweight, burnt out, and totally clueless... I began searching for a new direction in life. A nomadic childhood had me pre-conditioned for change, so I packed up all of my belongings and moved to the picture-perfect and rugged training ground of Boulder, Colorado.
Sidenote: when in doubt, move. (whatever that means to you)
Any amount of repositioning will change you for the better.
Upon arrival, I got a part-time gig as a cocktail waitress and assistant manager... and began the nebulous hunt for a “real job.” All in all, it totally sucked. Nobody responded. Nothing felt right. I was utterly lost and without purpose. Not to mention, the stress and my emotional turbulence was taking its toll on my relationship. Little did I know it would crumble completely as soon as I started my love affair with dance.
I was, however, savvy (or desperate?) enough to know that I needed to do SOMETHING to get happy again before a new path would really open up for me. More than anything else the extra weight I was carrying was a total downer. I was hungry for a taste of something that could bring my body (and spirit) back to life. After flipping through the yellow pages (yes, we used to actually use those monsters!) I found a listing for a studio with a nebulous offering: Nia – Dance – Yoga. Um, I recognized at least one of those words. I took a deep breath and found the courage to drop-in for a free class.
My entire life changed over the course of the next two years. There were some ugly moments (yes, I even shaved my head at one point!). But after shedding 20lbs of emotional weight, within one year I was healthier than I’d ever been in my life, and on every level of my being.
I had become obsessed with movement... dancing every single day, taking private martial arts lessons, devouring the study of qigong, and learning the art of teaching. And of course, beginning the gratifying journey of an entrepreneur...
Continue Reading BoogieBio Part 3 of 4
Start From the Beginning BoogieBio PART 1
Possibly inspired by such moments, I tried my hand at dancing publicly again at the age of 15. Um, let’s just say it wasn’t in the cards for me. I was decidedly far too awkward and uncoordinated to even make the first cut for cheerleading/dance team auditions at my high school. No joke, I think the judges stifled snickers at my pathetic little attempt at a cartwheel.
So I kept it in the closet. In college, I took a work-study position as the assistant to the fitness director at the campus rec center. In retrospect, this was a synchronistic turn of events, as it foreshadowed my eventual career path. The obviousness of this soared right over my head as I was never really very interested in fitness, per se. I was somewhat sporty here and there (I played softball and volleyball growing up), but I have always had a strong aversion to working out for the sake of itself.
Thus, throughout college my ass shaking was quarantined to dance floors, I would overcome inhibition in rare moments, clouded by a cocktail haze entered into precisely for the purpose of cutting through the voices in my head. If I drank enough... or pretended not to care for long enough... I would slip into that sweet space where everything felt right with the world. Yet even in that moment, if you had told me that teaching people to dance and let it all go was in my destiny, I would’ve seriously snorted vodka tonic out of my nose in hilarity.
In other words, there is no way in hell I thought I would ever be doing this. Flash forward to September 2000...
Continue Reading BoogieBio Part 2 of 4