4 Tips for Finding a Group X Substitute

An empty Group X room

One of the hardest parts about teaching Group X classes is looking for a substitute to cover your class when you need one. Especially if you’re teaching an obscure time slot like 6 a.m., you may have slim pickings to choose from. I’ve been that person texting and emailing everyone on the sub list two months out, and all the way up to the day before, looking for someone to cover my group fitness classes.

Unfortunately, each situation is different, so there isn’t a fool-proof formula to finding a substitute instructor. But, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me find a sub every time I’ve needed one.

  1. Sub for other people

When you sub for other people in their time of need, colleagues are more likely to go out of their way to help you out when you need it. Don’t feel like you need to pick up every sub opportunity that comes up, but try to pick up a class every few months to help out.

Especially look for times to sub for folks that are available to sub your classes. That way, you may be able to have a system in place where you both turn to each other to sub, when needed. If you know Tom has subbed for you in the past or may sub for you in the future, you should definitely be willing to return the favor when he needs help.

  1. Offer trades

Along these same lines, trades are a great option, because you’re able to sub for someone who needs it, and they sub a class you need. I’ve worked out trades for classes months in advance, and they still allow both instructors to benefit.

  1. If the mass email doesn’t work, send personal texts

Most people don’t respond to mass emails, because they assume others will jump in. If nobody responds, you’ll need to send personalized emails to each person that teaches your format, asking them to sub.

When you send these, make note of their responses. If they teach a class at the same time or moved out of state, you’ll want to make sure you don’t bug them again.

  1. Have your Group X director on speed dial

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to teach at a gym with an awesome, available Group X director. If so, they may be willing to cover as a last resort. They’re also usually the ones to authorize cancelling class.

It’s important to have their contact information stored in your phone, in case of an emergency or last-minute request.

We all have our tricks to finding a sub for our Group X class. I had to put these strategies to use recently as I planned for my upcoming trip to Hawaii in October. I was able to trade my classes with a fellow instructor, and it was pretty painless.

For more Group X tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.