Yoga studios don’t require a ton of space or fancy equipment to be fantastic businesses. The main selling point for a studio is usually the instructors. Yoga instructors can make or break a class for the clients. They are the face of the business and also the greatest asset. When hiring new instructors, it is important to effectively train them to uphold the standards of the studio.
How do you train instructors for your yoga studio? Training practices will differ for each studio, but the best training programs typically follow something similar to the “see one, do one, teach one” method. By thoroughly explaining studio practices, allowing the instructors to teach classes under supervision, and then having them explain the practices back to you or another instructor, you can ensure that the training is thorough. This sets the instructors up for success and maintains studio standards.
If you are hiring instructors, you are probably going to be looking for people who have already completed their yoga education. In some cases, you may hire instructors who are starting or in the middle of their education program. These students can still be onboarded in an apprentice role until they finish their program.
A special note: Your liability insurance most likely requires that class instructors be certified in the movements or type of fitness that they are teaching. This means that students in the process of finishing their yoga program should not be leading classes on their own.
Yoga Alliance of America is a non-profit organization that oversees and supports yoga education programs and teachers. A reputable yoga education program can be listed as one of their Registered Yoga Schools (RYS). This allows everyone (especially you as a hiring studio) to understand the standards of the program.
The most basic yoga education program is a 200-hour program. These programs can cover general yoga instruction or specialize in a type of yoga. Students will learn yoga postures, instruction techniques, the history of yoga, and yoga philosophy. The programs are generally not difficult but they do take time to complete.
200-hour programs can be offered in a variety of formats. Courses are available online, at retreats, on weekends, during evenings, and more. This means that instructors can find a program that fits their schedules. Depending on the length and frequency of classes, it can take a couple of weeks or several months to complete the 200-hour program.
Once the instructor completes the program, they can apply for their certification through Yoga Alliance. Becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) makes it easy for studios to understand the level of education.
500-Hour and Specialty Programs
Yoga instructors may choose to take their yoga education even further. A 500-hour program includes deeper education on yoga practice and instruction, including the history and philosophies of yoga. This doesn’t necessarily mean that an instructor is better at teaching yoga, but they will have a more thorough education.
Instructors can also complete specialty programs and receive the corresponding certifications. Some of the most popular specialty programs are prenatal yoga and children’s yoga. This widens the range of the clients that the instructor can successfully teach. Prenatal is especially important for instructors to support pregnant members in their classes.
On the Job Training
An education program sets the foundation for a yoga instructor. On-the-job training will mold the instructor to fit the standards of your studio. Even seasoned instructors will benefit from some training when they begin working at a new studio.
The most important aspect of an instructor’s job is the ability to teach yoga classes. It is recommended to have all potential instructors teach a trial class before they are hired. This allows you, the studio owner, to see how they run their classes and interact with clients.
Based on the trial class, you can determine how much additional training an instructor needs. Experienced instructors probably just need a couple of supervised classes to make sure that they are running the classes the way you would like. Newer instructors, especially those who have recently completed their education, may need a longer training period before they are leading classes on their own.
A common order for training is having the new instructor observe another instructor’s classes, then they will begin assisting and participating in instruction, and finally, they will lead classes under supervision. During this training, you must be kind but direct when teaching the new instructor or correcting their behavior. Small corrections can wait until after class, but most important corrections should be done discreetly. You want to minimize any disruption or interference during classes to maintain a calm atmosphere for your clients.
In many studios, instructors will be the point of contact for client questions and requests. You should train your instructors to be able to provide necessary information when you are not present at the studio. Some topics to cover include memberships, class schedules, types of classes offered, business hours, and more.
One way to support your new instructors is to provide an information binder. This can include all the information they may need to access to help a client:
- Membership plans and rates
- Class schedule
- Class descriptions
- Membership contract
- Other pertinent information
In addition to knowing or being able to find information, instructors also need to understand customer service. You should teach them how you expect clients to be spoken to and interacted with. Instructors are the face of your business and should be warm, polite, and helpful to clients.
If instructors are going to be expected to be the only employee in the studio at any time, they need to be educated on the financial processes. This may vary depending on your studio operations.
At a minimum, show new instructors how to handle cash or credit card payments for drop-in fees, food and beverage purchases, merchandise, and memberships. Using studio management software like Gymdesk makes this training even easier thanks to integrated point-of-sale and billing systems.
Another piece of training to include is how to log hours or classes for payroll (if you utilize a certain method).
Studio operations include all the details of how to expect things to run and how the space should be maintained. Tailor this information based on your studio.
Some topics to cover include:
- Studio opening and closing procedures
- How the studio should be reset after classes
- How to set up for a class
- Any expected cleaning for the class space, entrance area, or restrooms
Tips For Training New Instructors
1. Do the Training Yourself
As the studio owner, you can decide all the aspects of how the studio should operate. This also means that you are probably the best person to train new instructors. That way you can guarantee that their training is comprehensive and correct.
If it is not feasible for you to train new instructors, make sure that you are choosing an experienced employee who knows the ins and outs of your studio. They should be the closest thing to you training new instructors yourself.
2. Over Communicate
Communicating how you want things done in the studio is necessary to maintain studio standards across all classes and instructors. When training new instructors, you almost want to beat a dead horse to make sure you are covering all the necessary information. You should also encourage new instructors to ask as many questions as possible. By giving them all the information they need, you can set them up to succeed.
3. Ask for Feedback
A couple of months after new instructors complete their training, ask them for feedback about the process. Find out if there was anything they didn’t learn during training, did they need more time, did they want a shorter training period, etc. This allows you to adjust and improve training for future instructors.
Instructor training starts with the instructor completing their 200-hour (or more) education program. Once in the studio, they need to be taught how you want classes to run, how to handle client relations, and how the studio operates. The best instructor training includes direct communication, opportunities for trial and error, and constructive corrections. Consistent training for all instructors will help keep the classes to the highest standards for you and your studio.