How to Get Value for your Money

Mar 31, 2015

In the 19 years I have been practicing yoga and 9 years of teaching yoga I have always been a bit surprised when people tell me they taught or teach yoga and other exercise classes simply because the gym/studio owner asked them to help out. Generally what would happen is the person would be a regular student of a type of class and the owner needed an instructor so they said yes, without any training or certification in that field or how to safely teach.

I was fortunate to come to yoga just after having finished my teaching credential and one thing I knew for sure then and I way know for sure now is this:

Being able to do some particular activity is a completely different skill set than being able to teach that particular activity.

Let’s use reading as an example. I assume that since you are reading this post you can read and have been doing so for many years. You’re probably pretty good at it. The question is, if I put you in a room with someone who does not yet know how to read, would you be able to teach them? Could you, over the span of just a few months move them from non-reader to reader? Most of us would probably say,”No.”

When it comes to exercise, physical fitness, yoga – which is much more than just physical fitness, the same is true. Just because someone has been taking classes for a while and is pretty good at what they do physically does not necessarily mean they have the skill set to teach others.

So when it comes to value for your exercise money you want to do some research or ask some questions like these:

Always learning - Cathy with her teacher Jeanne . Since 1998.

Always learning – Cathy with her teacher Jeanne . Since 1998.


1. Is the instructor certified? I had been doing yoga for 10 years before my first teacher training and I thought I knew yoga. Wow! I was so wrong, there was so much I didn’t know that I didn’t know I’m relieved I never agreed to teach without being trained. Also, I had been teaching school for 10 years and thought I knew teaching. In many ways I did, but teaching yoga was in some ways a different animal than teaching school. I know you want more of an explanation….got a couple hundred hours? If you’re spending money with someone or a facility, make sure they know now what they didn’t know then.

2. What type/how long was the training course? There is a big difference in the amount of learning that can occur in a one weekend course vs. one that is several hundred hours long spaced out over several months. Do the math: longer, more intense trainings= more bang for your buck.

3. Does the instructor practice what they teach on their own time? Teaching and doing are also two different things. Teaching is completely externally focused on the student and practice in completely internally focused for personal growth and to sustain skills. It’s my opinion that any teacher whose only practice time is when they are teaching class isn’t doing either of them fully. That means her attention isn’t fully on you and you aren’t getting full value for you dollars.

4. Does the instructor participate in continuing education? A professional and deeply passionate instructor is regularly reading books, articles and attending trainings to deepen their own practice and understanding in order to have more to offer you, the student. They have their own teacher that they see and learn from regularly. A good way to tell is to look for an instructor who has been teaching for several years with multiple certifications or who is currently pursuing further certification. More letters and certificates behind their name means you’ll get more out of your class experience. A great question to ask: “Who is your teacher?”

5. Does the instructor have good, basic knowledge of physical anatomy? This is your body they are having you do things with – do they know how it works? How to keep it safe? How to prevent injury and RSI? Do they understand ROM, how it differs for each individual and how to help you work safely within your range? Do they even know what RSI and ROM mean??

6. Are they prepared in case of emergency? Lots and lots of places do not require instructors to be CPR/First Aid certified. This is a good question to ask – in the event of serious injury or medical emergency you want someone who knows what to do. (FYI – all Yoga Flirt instructors are required to be CPR/First Aid certified, you’re welcome)

You may have other questions to add to this list. Be wise, inform youself…you deserve to get the most out of your exercise investment!

If you enjoyed or were inspired by what you read, please comment below, Like, Share, Pin and Tweet. With Gratitude, Cathy MA. Ed, E-RYT500

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