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How to Teach a Group X Class When You’re Not Feeling Well

Sick Group X Instructor Preparing for a Class

It usually comes out of nowhere and gets you when you least expect it. You’ve been hanging in there for quite some time when suddenly you can’t hang anymore and you get sick. It’s always encouraged to find a sub when you’re sick to prevent spreading the cold and ensuring participants get the best class. But, sometimes these things come on so suddenly that there’s no time to find someone to cover the Group X class. So, you take some DayQuil, hike up your gym shorts and are on your way to teach.

Here are a few tips to teaching a Group X class when you’re not feeling 100 percent.

Cue Group Exercise Activities That Don’t Face the Front

There’s a lot more attention on the Group X instructor when members are facing forward. When all eyes are on you, it’s a lot harder to stop working without interrupting the flow of the class. However, when participants are lying on the floor or facing away from you they aren’t affected so much by your actions.

That way, you can spend more time walking around and cueing than demonstrating and performing the exercises.

A few examples are:

  • Bent over rows, standing
  • Chest press on the floor
  • Push-ups
  • Supine brides
  • Planks and crunches

Cue Group X Activities For Time

I usually like to cue each exercise as I go to the beat of the music. I like doing it this way, because it feels powerful when you start an activity, like squats, on the beat. But, it can be tricky, because I have to demonstrate each new activity as we go to keep the flow of the class.

Instead, instructors can do timed exercises. There can be circuits where participants do a different exercise every minute for 5 minutes before resting. For example, one minute each of alternating lunges, mountain climbers, jumping jacks and squats.

This has the same effect, since you don’t need to spend so much time participating in the activities.

Cue Exercises Participants Already Know

This one works for strength and dance classes. Lead the class through a bunch of exercises the class already knows, so you don’t have to spend a ton of time exercising.

You can jump into the exercise quickly without spending a lot of time at the front of the room.

Enlist Participants to Bring the Motivation

Usually the class looks to you to bring the heat and convince members to go harder, faster, etc. But, when you’re sick it can be challenging to bring out the “coach” persona. Instead, prompt the class to inspire themselves. You can have them count down the last ten as a group. You can also have them work to beat a goal. For example, in one minute, count how many push-up repetitions you can do. Then afterwards, do it again and see if folks can beat their number of reps.

Boost the Hygiene

When you’re sick, make sure to avoid touching (or even getting too close to) participants. Wash your hands more than normal and wipe down your equipment. If you’re noticing participants are getting sick, give extra encouragement to wipe down equipment, stay hydrated and sleep.

With the above tips, you should be able to survive teaching when you’re feeling under the weather. If you can, always try to find a sub — it’s better for you and the participants! For more tips and tricks, check out the group exercise ideas page.