Thank you so much for this article, I've been teaching for 5 years at studios, senior centers and even a women's gym. Yesterday was my first class at the YMCA, the atmosphere and the attitude of the students totally threw me off and i've been looking for tips online all day. THis article is definitely the most inspiring and conclusive! Now just need to figure out what to do about those flourescent lights!
Interesting that health club yoga is being written off as purely beginner (until the yogi moves on to a studio). I think a bigger challenge is how do you continue to keep more serious yogis interested in your classes.
Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been apart of the yoga studio world for 12 years and have recently been approached to teach in a fitness center. I have been struggling with saying yes simply because it isn't a "studio" environment. Your words "It's important that we teach the essence of yoga as we understand it to the people that are in front of us." makes perfect sense and has me excited to explore the possibilities...
Sure the studio is a better place to practice. I find the teaching at the gym has many rewards. 1,the focus,getting rid of distractions.2,a challange to learn to teach many people at different levels,including non english speaking students. Most importantly I feel I can reach out to a large amount of people at one time. I make it a point to point out the advantage between working out in the gym and doing yoga in a atmosphere where it is clear to see the difference. Like it or not it is the wave if the future,embrace it!
I teach in a gym also. For the most part, the owners are very accommodating. My struggle is the noise level. Because of the set up of the gym, I am unable to close doors or muffle the sound.
I too teach at several YMCAs in NE Ohio and the pay is VERY LOW -- less than $9.00 per class, not per HOUR, per CLASS -- especially when you consider that the Y will not pay for you to attend yoga trainings, even though the Y reaps all the benefits of happy members coming through the doors to attend our yoga classes. Sure, you get a complimentary single membership (you have to pay to add the family), but that doesn't help buy food for the dinner table! Here YMCAs expect you to donate your time for trainings, set up/clean up before and after classes, be completely loyal to them (i.e. not teach at other neighboring facilities), etc. and then they view a serious yoga instructor as nothing more than a glorified streching instructor and patronize you by telling you that you are serving the community and as a on-profit organization we just can't afford to pay more. Then, next time you're in the workout area you notice the three shiney new treadmills. Y's also will not purchase blocks or straps and many instructors like myself have purchased them personally and bring them to classes. Hey, I'm all for serving the community, but I also deserve a fair wage and teaching equipment. Also Y's do not always requiring adequate yoga training. They will send someone to a weekend training and expect them to come back and train the rest of the cardio instructors to teach yoga! Beware of the YMCA whether its working there or working out there. There is a lot of inconsistency! You can get a wonderful, well-trained yoga instructor with a good following who truly cares and teaches yoga (and ONLY yoga!) from the heart or you can get a cardio instructor who thinks they can teach yoga and starts the class with full pigeon pose!!
My first experience of yoga was in a gym studio next to the fitness room - clanks, grunts, pounding feet on treadmills all echoing through the adjoining wall! I knew no different, so it actually bothered me less than it did the teacher.
Now that I'm teaching, (and I have 2 classes a week in a fitness centre), I find it helpful to use external noise - if it occurs - to illustrate the concept of pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses (hearing, in this case) from that which is not relevant at the time; and self-awareness; even dharana - concentration. I guess it's an unusual resource!
My first exposure to yoga too was in a gym fitness room when my children were babies. I just wanted to get healthy while my children were looked after by qualified people free of charge.
After a few years, I went through yoga training with YogaFit as Teri mentioned because that's where I thought I would fit in. But like many, many other yoga teachers who started with YogaFit, I ended up doing my 200-hour training at a studio. YogaFit is definitely one way for personal trainers, pilates instructors to diversify, but it was not for me.
Having said that, I would like to also mention that I teach at the gym where I attended my first yoga class. I have the 200-hr training behind me, am in the process of applying for registration with YA, but I have no qualms about teaching at a gym.
The tremendous upside of teaching at a gym is, as the article mentioned, you are the first yoga teacher for many, many, many people. And seeing these people come to my class with a happy face week after week is a great reward for me. I can say that I made a good, lasting first impression on these people. When they reflect back on their yoga experience later in life, they will remember me and my classes and, if they have kept up with yoga, then I will have been the one who have started them on their yoga journey.
Donna Davidge Amrita
I have been teaching for 25 yrs and a few years back a fellow teacher who had started her own studio asked why I was still in gyms. Besides the freedom it has given me to grow my own retreat outside of NYC, it is a regular paycheck, you get to teach people and there are alot of experienced teachers teaching in gyms with the job market saturated. You don't need to be a Yogafit teacher tho; as a matter of fact gyms can actually be good places for students these days to learn from very qualified teachers of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini and other specific schools of yoga and get an interesting cross exposure to know what they like instead of just general yoga.
Also if you want to teach full time, which is usually only 15 classes a week, you can get benefits, which is amazing in our field. Actually I could write an article on this! I have taught at Equinox, Apple, Synergy, Dolphin, Waterside and the one I am still at is NYSC as yoga has evolved over the years!
I love these articles, but find the "3 friends think you are stupid" ad side bars-with the blonde women staring at me from some unknown resource- completely out of place for yoga journal. I am happy to ignore them- the content here is very helpful- Though I really think this "blotch" on the page isn't aligned with the true purpose here and only supports self serving "pop" advertising strategies.