Hey, there! Today’s post is all about how to save time choreographing your barre classes. When I first started teaching barre, I found myself spending hours on end trying to come up with the right class. Along the way, I’ve developed some tips that help me quickly choreograph classes that my clients love. Every studio and instructor is different; so, all of my tips may not work for you. But I think you’ll find at least one tip you can put to use today to help you create your classes a little more effectively!
How I format my classes.
Every studio is different, and some studios require instructors to format their classes a certain way. This section only applies to instructors who have the freedom to format their classes the way they want. For example, I can do core work at any point in the class I choose.
I like to have a set order in which I go through the different sections of a class. If I want to occasionally switch it up, I may do that. But I typically don’t deviate from that order.
Having a set order allows me to easily mix and match sections from previous classes to create a “new” class. Which brings me to my next point…
Class notes storage.
I touched on this in my post where I talked about tips for your group fitness instructor audition. In my opinion, the best way to store your choreography notes is electronically. I don’t use a notebook or paper for my choreography notes at all, and here’s why.
Mixing and matching different sections of the class allows me to create a “new” class without really adding any new choreography. I can pull together a class using different series from a bunch of past classes and boom - I have a brand “new” class with hardly any extra work. But this becomes a lot more time consuming and hard to track when I have to flip through a huge notebook of notes (or multiple).
Here’s exactly what I do:
I have an armband that I wear during classes that holds my phone, which is a lot easier to glance at than a notebook on the floor. Plus, I have an electronic record of what I taught (and when) that makes it very easy to mix and match when I’m short on time.
Use outside resources.
If you’re a barre instructor, there’s a good chance you also have some awesome choreography ideas. It’s important to tap into that, but it’s also important to know that there’s no way you can come up with fresh ideas every week. It’s okay to go online and be inspired. There are tons of resources out there with excellent barre choreography ideas, both free and paid!
I was certified through Barre Above, and afterward, I decided to join their Elite program. It only costs $99 for a full year of new releases every month. I don’t get 100% of my choreography from Barre Above, but I always use at least one or two of their series in my classes. The Elite program gets you get monthly releases of different choreography styles, which I love. Every month there’s a traditional Barre Above release, a Pilates-focus release, a ballet-focus release, a musicality “to the beat” release, a HIIT/cardio release, and more. With all that fresh content being released so often, I can’t even get through it all by the time a new release is out!
I also get great free ideas from YouTube. BODYBARRE has some excellent and fun series. Their Bohemian Rhapsody Plie series is one of my clients’ favorites! There are always new ideas you can get from looking on the internet. Checking out what other people are doing will also spark you to come up with great new ideas.
Finally, take other people’s classes. I can’t stress this enough! Fitness is an ever-changing industry with new trends and movements coming out all the time. We can and should all be learning from one another. I can guarantee you there’s another instructor at your gym or studio who uses a technique you haven’t seen before. In that hour of class, you’ll get a workout AND save the hours you might have spent scouring the internet for that perfect hamstring movement using a Pilates ball. Take other people’s classes, and take them often. You’ll continue to learn new things that you can take back to your choreography sessions.
PS - Take classes outside of your format, too. Your classes will be a lot more unique and creatively designed because of it. Pilates, spin, yoga, and CrossFit have all taught me things I’ve implemented in my barre classes.
Everyone’s classes are a little different, which is one thing that makes freestyle barre classes so awesome. I personally find it so much better to use music in the foreground of my class and develop choreography to the music in my playlist. My clients like it better and catch onto moves easier. Plus, it makes things a whole lot easier for me as an instructor and choreographer. Let’s not forget that Barre is ballet-based. Even though it’s not a ballet class, adding musicality to it and getting clients to understand an 8-count makes the class better (in my opinion).
Storing notes electronically allows me to quickly create a “new” class using sections of previous classes when I’m short on time. This seriously comes in handy during busy weeks!
I’m a huge advocate of using online resources for choreography inspiration. When you find a series you like to use, you can repeat it in multiple classes to a different song to give it a new feel.
While I do try to introduce at least one or two new movements to my clients every week, I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel every class. There are lots of ways to make your classes feel new without actually spending hours coming up with new content every week.
If you’re a new instructor and you feel like you’re spending way too much time planning your classes, try some of these tips! And keep in mind that it’ll get much easier as you become more experienced.
If you’re an instructor, do you have any tips you use to save time creating classes as a group fitness instructor? How often do you use online resources for ideas?
If you take group fitness classes, do you like to have a brand new class every week? Or do you prefer some aspects of the class to be repeated?
Let me know your thoughts below in the comments! And check out the workouts I did last week.
Dominique Cheylise, 27 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.