The instructor training course at the University of Minnesota’s Recreation and Wellness center isn’t an end-all be-all.
Instead, it’s a prep course and a chance for students to learn. “That’s kind of why they want to teach with us because they know they’re going to grow and they’re going to develop and that’s kind of our role in campus recreation,” said Laura Kozlowski, the group fitness coordinator.
Kozlowski recently saw the revamp of the program from what was once just an in-house course, preparing instructors to teach at the rec center, to a program that partnered with ACE and became a sort of prep course for the certification. She explained the 12 weeks are filled with ACE materials, but the university took it a step further, teaching students how to use that knowledge in an actual group fitness setting.
“[It’s the] best of both worlds in that preparing these students to be prepared to take an actual certification exam by going through the ACE material, but then adding in our own extra components, practical components — workshops we call them — for that hands on experience,” said Kozlowski.
The program has doubled in participation numbers because of the added end goal, said Kozlowski. Plus, on top of being able to become certified through ACE, students can also become involved in an internship where they learn from a current instructor.
By offering an instructor training program, Kozlowski said the program benefits from having quality and consistency in its instruction. This is because they are able to help students grow and develop into these roles. “I think it just furthers the purpose of campus recreation and in a campus setting where it’s a learning environment and helping them get more hands [on] experience before maybe stepping into a position,” she said.
In order to start a program like this, Kozlowski said one must ask a couple of questions: “What is the end goal of the program? Where do you want these instructors then to go off and be able to teach or be able to bring to your program?”
Through looking at your current staff and thinking about what you like and what you don’t, Kozlowski said that process can really help the program develop. Ultimately, she suggested partnering with a certifying body as it helps cut down on the prep work, allowing one to develop the program more fully and influence students in all aspects of life.
“Obviously, we hope that they continue on and continue to be instructors, but wherever their next step is, once they graduate that they have those skills to take with them in a bigger sense than just teaching a group fitness class,” said Kozlowski.