(Version 1.0 : 13 March 2010)
So, you want to be a Les Mills RPM (TM) instructor ? Nice move :)
If you’re about to jump into it, or are a beginning instructor, I would like to share with you of the details of the process to get you prepared and some hints and tips to get you started and make your first appearances on that stage as memorable (for good reasons) as possible.
Now, before I start, I need to mention that everything written here is my own opinion and is in no way endorsed by Les Mills International, the owners and copyright holders of the RPM program. I’m just an instructor who loves what he does and wants to help as many people change their lives for the better as possible.
Have a read and let me know what you think. Please leave a comment or send me an email: patrick [at] body4me.com.au
Let me know if this is useful and if you have any suggestions for more content.
The best place to start right now is the Where To Begin section of my ‘So you want to be a BodyPump Instructor’ post. Have a read of the first three sections : Where to Begin, Breathing, Form and The Module Training. Then come back here :)
OK, we’re back… Let’s get straight into Day 1 of the module training:
Day 1 starts pretty much like you would expect it to. Every one is a little nervous, no one knows just what they are getting themselves in to. Don’t worry, your trainer will put you at ease very quickly with all the introductions and niceties. They will give you an overview of the program and a brief description on what’s ahead for the next couple of days.
To get the scary stuff out of the way quickly, you’ll also be given your track allocation for your presentation. Depending on the size of your class, you’ll get one or two tracks to present on Day 2. (Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of opportunities during the day to learn it and get familiar with the choreography. If you’ve already been doing RPM as a participant, you’re probably already familiar with the class structure and the music)
Once all that is out of the way, it’s time to hit the bikes for your last ride as a participant. It will be a full run-through of the current release. This gives the trainer a chance to have a good look around at everyone, assess their form and attitude. At the same time, check out your trainer. Pay attention to how they look on the bike, their form, their voice, their intensity. All these things work together to make the class. My advice: Work hard in the class, as you normally would, to let the trainer know you’re for real, but don’t destroy yourself. You’ve got a long day ahead of the day and this isn’t your last ride for the day….
After the masterclass, most of the rest of the day is dedicated to theory. You will go through sections on bike set up, choreography and bike technique. These are all very important pieces of information. There are plenty of nuances to every area that you probably never even thought of before. I know I certainly did and i’ve been doing RPM for years. I know, a day’s worth of theory might not sounds really exciting, but all this knowledge will make the difference between a mediocre instructor and a great one. Plus, you need ot know all this stuff for your presentation, so pay attention :)
You will probably also get the chance to set up you bike in front of a mirror and analyse your riding style and posture. That was an incredibly valuable experience. You could see people’s riding style improve with every minute. We were lucky to be set up in a quite large room that had one wall totally lined with mirrors. All the bikes were lined up in a row facing the mirrored wall. We then went through drills for every riding position to make sure we could demonstrate the correct technique.
After all the theory is done for the day, you will go for the ‘Race of Truth’. It’s an RPM instructor’s rite of passage :) I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but i will say that it is about an hours worth of the hardest riding you will ever do on a stationary bike. Some very simple advice: Go Hard. Leave nothing behind. This is your chance. You always hear plenty of battle stories about people throwing up or crying, but I thought it was my best experience on a bike ever. OK, maybe I’m a little strange, but there is nothing quite like the feeling of pushing your body beyond its limit. When everything screams and all you want to do is stop turning the pedals, but your pride wont let you. Make it through. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. You’ll thank yourself afterwards :)
Once the ride is finished and you’ve melted off the bike, it’s time to head home and learn your track for your presentation the next day. Listen to your track as many times as you can. You want to be in a position where you know the song off by heart. Where you can instinctively tell when the music will change tone or intensity. I know.. it sounds hard, but it isn’t really. The upshot is when you really know the song, it’s much easier to remember the choreography because changes in choreography are pretty much always linked to a change in the music.
Oh, and don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep. Day 2 is a long one :)
This is your big day. Time to put everything you learned yesterday into practice. The first order of the day is your very first presentation. Again, depending on the size of your class, you may have one or two groups of bikes set up for the presentations. You may or may not get a warmup track and then it’s straight into the student presentations in normal class order (Tracks 2-7).
You will quickly introduce the track and describe the track objective. You’ve got about 15 seconds for this, make sure you can bust it out without having to think. Then, start your ride. Your trainer will come around with a video camera and tape sections of your ride for later analysis. Do yourself a favour and try to forget about the camera and the trainer. Right now, you’re just there to ride a track with your new friends. It will be over before you know it. I found it quite helpful if you can organise your team so that you all help each other out during each others presentation with big smiles, looks of encouragement and lots of hard work. It makes the whole thing seem a little more ‘real’ if everyone around you looks like they’re in a real class.
Once all the presentations are done, it’s time to go through the analysis of the footage. To many, this probably sounds like the most painful part of the day, but trust me, it’s not that bad. You finally get a chance to look at yourself and your form on the bike. You’ll get feedback on pretty much every aspect of your ride and presentation. Take plenty of notes, not just on your presentation but on everyone else’s too, and remember each point for when it comes time for the technique drills later on. Hey, you may fin out something you never know you did. Turns out, I was moving fingers too much while holding on to the handle. I only noticed it because of the video.
After the video analysis, there is plenty more theory work on the key principles, followed by an introduction to music feel. Here you will go through a range of songs and analyse the feel and emotion attached to each one. I think this is a very important topic as it sets the mood of your class and gets your participants emotionally involved in the workout. While you’re listening to each song, think about the intensity of the track, the current choreography, what you would want to say and HOW you would want to say it to have maximum impact on your class.
By now, you’re probably getting hungry so it’s a good time to break for some lunch :)
When you come back, the rest of the afternoon will be taken up by technique drills, a few minutes to run over your track and then your final presentation. The technique drills are vitally important and you will see your form improve by the minute. I guarantee it! What happens is that you will all set your bikes up in front of a mirror and your trainer will guide you through every position on the bike. They will then play a number of a particular type of track (eg, 4 * Track 7) and ask you to maintain a number of positions while they come around and correct any errors. Like I already said, watching yourself in a mirror head on is incredibly valuable. Use this opportunity to study yourself and everyone around you to get the most out of this!
Ok, time for your final presentation. Not to make you nervous or anything, but this is it :) This is the presentation you will be marked on to determine whether you get a Pass, Withheld or Re-sit.
By now, your choreography should be rock-solid. You know the song like the back of your hand. You’ve scripted every cue you’re going to use and you’ve anchored it to a point in the song (more on that later). All you have to do now is ride and have fun with it.
Before you start any of your presentations, your trainer would have given you a list of the assessment criteria that are used to mark you. As long as you nail the core ones, you’re through. If your choreography and technique are right, you’re halfway there.
After your final presentation ride, there is not really much more. At this point, and throughout the day, there will be a bit about the Les Mills Philosophy and some cool little team building and ‘welcome to the family’ type exercises.
Time to get your result. You can have one of three outcomes:
- Pass: You have passed as a trainee and can now start to team teach tracks with a certified instructor for three months until you are ready to ride a full class, record it and send it in for assessment. Once you have been certified, you can start taking your own classes.
- Withheld: Your trainer has determined that there are some parts of your ride that are not quite at the level that is required to pass you. You can still go out and team teach with a certified instructor, but you will only be able to ’shadow’ them for the first month. That means you can’t speak or present tracks but can share the stage with the instructor. This is a great opportunity to work on the areas that need improvement.
- Re-Sit: Your trainer has determined that there are several areas that need improvement and you are not quite ready to start instructing other people. You will need to re-do the course in the future.
So, if you got one of the first two outcomes, congratulations, you are now your way to being a certified instructor. Hopefully you would have already organised a mentor instructor to work with at your club. Get in contact with them as soon as possible and start your team-teaching experience.
If you got the third outcome, don’t worry. Get back into the saddle as soon as possible and work on the areas that your trainer has pointed out to you. Work with the instructors at your club to give you feedback and help you improve.
Don’t forget, the module training part of the training is only the very start. The next three months of team teaching is where the real meat of the work is.
The next thing to do right now is to check out the rest of the BodyPump instructor page on Microphone technique and learning your choreography. Check out the sections from ‘Microphone technique’ onwards. All that material is important for all group exercise classes, be it RPM, BodyPump or any other format.
Once again, congratulations on chosing to become an RPM instructor. Now get out there and have some fun with it!
RPM is a trademark and copyright of Les Mills International (LMI). None of of the opinions or comments expressed in this document are endorsed by LMI