president Janie Clark, M.A., says, "I
couldn't agree more with the point of this article. As usual, Mary Ann has
hit the nail squarely on the head! Instructor burnout is an important
issue, and having a plan in place to combat it can make all the
IF YOU'RE FEELING TIRED, WORN OUT AND UNCREATIVE, HERE IS SOME SOUND
ADVISE FROM AN EXPERIENCED SENIOR FITNESS LEADER.
GIVE ME A BREAK
Mary Ann Wilson, R.N.
Mary Ann Wilson, an
SFA National Advisory Board member, is the host of public television's
popular Sit and Be Fit@ workout series. She teaches in retirement homes
where participants are 80 to 100 years old and often use wheelchairs,
walkers and canes. For a brochure describing Sit and Be Fit@ video
products, contact: P.O. Box 8033, Spokane WA 99203-0033 (509) 448-9438 or
visit the SIT AND BE FIT website at www.sitandbefit.com
you are a viewer of
the time-honored television program, "20/20" hosted by
Barbara Walters, the words "Give Me A Break", most likely
conjure up visions of journalist, John Stossel, who opens his
segment with that well-known phrase, "Give Me A Break". In
his commentary, he chooses a topic or a practice that is obviously
flawed, in his humble opinion, yet the entire population
adheres to it, nevertheless. His comments poke fun and illustrate
that we often do or say things repeatedly without questioning
"why". Originally, there may have been a good reason for
the act in question; however, it has no basis in todayís world.
the subject of this article will not poke fun at mindless activities
or explore a variety of curious rationales, it will question an
assumption made by fitness professionals that is unhealthy and can
lead to burnout. However, Iíll offer a solution to the problem
that I hope youíll find useful.
IS THE PROBLEM:
are feeling tired, worn out and uncreative. You know you need a
break from teaching your classes but you canít just take off for
an extended period of time. Your students depend on you for
motivation as well as instruction. You have looked for a substitute
instructor but all the qualified instructors are overloaded and
to your dilemma, your children are out of school for the summer and
your very large Italian family is planning a two-week long family
reunion half way across the country. You want to go but just canít
leave your students for that length of time.
IS THE SOLUTION:
time for yourself and your loved ones is a must. Many times just a
change of pace, scenery and a break from routine is just what the
doctor ordered. Everyone needs to re-charge their batteries from
time to time without feeling guilty about their responsibilities to
is an idea that will allow you to leave your classes for as long as
a month or more without the slightest twinge of guilt. It will also
promote a sense of responsibility in your students by putting them
in charge of their fitness program.
your students or clients that they have made some wonderful
functional gains over the last several months including improved
posture and leg strength. You donít want them to backslide.
Ideally you want to equip them with the tools to continue to
progress during your absence.
way to insure that they donít become couch potatoes while you are
on hiatus is to give them HOMEWORK!! Everyone who completes the
assignment is awarded a small but useful prize when you return.
is one way to accomplish your goal:
one side of an 8 Ĺ by 11 sheet of paper, print a calendar covering
the time you will be absent from class and they will be on their
own. The calendar should have enough space in the blocks to allow
students to check off the exercises they do.
the other side make a list of the exercises you want them to
perform. Assign each exercise a point. When you return and collect
their homework, tally up the points to discover the winner.
the rules and ask them to display their homework sheet someplace
where it will remind them to exercise ( i.e., the refrigerator.)
List any other instructions regarding technique, repetitions and any
SIT AND BE FIT, the students we teach are quite frail so we
concentrate on functional exercises that focus on leg strength,
balance and abdominal awareness. Instead of using a point system, we
gave our students a choice of doing one of three types of exercise
each day. The choices included a set of pre-assigned exercises, the
SIT AND BE FIT television program, or any SIT AND BE FIT video. For
a perfect score, we required them to perform their exercise
assignment 5 days each week we were gone. Winners received a coffee
mug (that we found on sale) with personalized SIT AND BE FIT
you would like to receive a copy of our homework assignment, please
write or call. You may also e-mail us your postal address. You can
customize your exercises and prizes to suit your clientsí needs.
your time away you will regain focus, clarity and creativity. Having
allowed yourself the luxury of re-charging your batteries, you will
discover your life is full and once again in balance. And guess
what? ÖÖ.NO GUILT!
OUTCOME FOR THE STUDENTS
will return to a challenged and motivated class who is happy to have
you back. Whatís more, you will have provided them with a good
role model, who understands that everyone has a need for respite to
maintain mental and physical energy. You did all this by simply GIVING
YOURSELF A BREAK!
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