During the past few years in the Fitness Industry, there has been an alarming trend to standardise Yoga Exercise & Dance classes. ‘Les Mills’ to name just one of these autocratic Fitness Companies haved strived to suppress original choreography in a means to control the Gym Business worldwide. The gyms buy the trimestrial DVD with its ready made choreography & ready made music. The teacher then learns the choreography & reproduces it to the very letter. Thus becoming no more than an over qualified puppet. I’m not saying that the choreography is bad. I’m not saying that the teachers don’t have talent. Some of the music isn’t quite so horrid but it has completely suppressed the creativity & personal identity of the teachers & the clubs themselves. What is the point of visiting a different health club than your own when you will find the exact same exercises classes whether you are in your home town or else where around the world ?
These mass produced classes are indeed a sign of our times of globalised profit driven banality.
Some new Low Costs Gyms have now even come up with the money saving scam of having their adherents exercise with a DVD recording of an exercise teacher. Has it become so bad that now people actually go to gyms to exercise in front of a TV screen !!!! For of course, where is the need for a Fitness professional if the teachers themselves are just following a DVD.
In the ready made instructors manuel’s one of the companies actually even tells the teachers to smile at a client or make a funny comment at precise moments during the hour class !
It is the robotisation of the Fitness Industry that kills the creativity of the teachers. It will eventually kill the Industry itself. These one size fits all classes do not take into consideration the individual client nor the group . They are there to make money & to please the masses…. The comparison is that of McDonald’s compared to a quality restaurant. Do we all want “fries with that“ or are we willing to take the risk & savour the many different flavours of individuality?
I stopped teaching in the corporate chain gyms & began to teach independently because of my utter distaste for this mindless trend. I began to feel that I was simply working on a chain line.
(Smile now,Step touch now, 2 steps forward & 3 back ,smile now.) I found myself in a nightmare, not even able to adapt the classes to the students in front of me, for once that CD is lanced it is the imposed choreography that is king & nothing else counts besides from keeping the movements synchronised with the music & the added sound effects.
I am a dance choreographer & a free thinking teacher. I feel music, I transform feeling into movement. More often than not I create my choreography by getting to know my clients. Inspiration comes from talking to my students, hearing good music, watching a film …etc … Choreography then is specifically designed to exercise their bodies & to please their musical tastes. No class is ever identical for as an observant teacher I focus on structuring the class to the instant needs of the group.
In my Yoga classes I talk to my students before the class & more importantly I listen to them. Maybe one client has hurt her back whilst she was renovating her house, maybe another didn’t get enough sleep. I will then incorporate restorative poses into the class that helps them feel better. Or inversely maybe it is a grey cold day & the group needs their energy levels boosting with a more energetic class. This is how quality classes are designed.
Can you imagine how impersonal & plastic life would be if we all just followed a script?
I would not do my job if I wasn’t allowed to be creative. Thankfully it is still possible to teach & produce original work by being a part of a local studio. There, it is still possible to hear inspiring music & not be a headless puppet or part of a faceless crowd.
It is time to support your local independent Studios, to support talented musicians, teachers & choreographers. Dance, Art, Music, Yoga, Fitness & Movement = FREEDOM.
I teach personalized Yoga Fitness Step & Dance in Paris. Due to my inquisitive & artistic nature we change the musical ambiance & style of the classes each trimester. We are free in my classes are you in yours? More often than not it is not the teachers fault it is the policy & management of the gym. Please ask them to include more free classes into their programs, that way you will have the best of both worlds.
This article is dedicated to all you wonderfully talented teachers out there who spend hours at home memorising scripted choreography for no pay.