Automatically giving Les Mills instructors advanced status just for showing up at a module won’t fly

At the beginning of every Les Mills calendar year, I not only set my goals for the next 12 months, but figure out my travel budget.

That entails of what modules and quarterly workshops I will be attending, what months they will be happening, how much money will I need to save and will I need plane tickets.

While all of those things are taken care of for the big New Orleans spectacle coming up in June, I’ve been looking to see if any BodyPump Advanced Instructor Module II’s – or AIM 2 – would be heading to the Northeast.

Upon discovering that one will happen in May in New York, I made a startling and disturbing discovery.

Under the event description, it read: Every participant will leave the module with at least advanced status.

The second I read that, I instantly shook my head. While this won’t stop me from attending AIM II again and furthering my goal of becoming a Les Mills BodyPump trainer – something no instructor from Maine has accomplished – it immediately got me thinking as to what we’re trying to accomplish with this.

Attending AIM II isn’t cheap. Just to sign up for the module, you’re paying $250. If you have to fly, like I did when I went to Virginia a couple years ago, you’re paying for a flight, hotel and possibly a rental car, not to mention food and drinks. It adds up quickly. I spent nearly $700 on my first AIM II, and swore the next time I went, it would be a city that I can drive to.

If you’re going to attend AIM II and spend all that money, you better make sure you’re ready. Your technique has to be rock-solid. You have to be in tip-top physical condition. Mastering the five key elements of your program – coaching, technique, connecting, fitness magic and choreography – are absolutely essential. That’s what Les Mills wants in new trainers.

If we’re going to give everybody advanced status coming out of AIM II – which is just below elite – what is that going to accomplish?

That will make instructors think they can just show up out of shape to a module, have awful technique and zero knowledge of which muscle group a certain exercise works, and come out with a chance to do a video and gain elite status. How is that going to help an instructor improve? Are we moving toward a philosophy that anybody who picks up a barbell or resistance tube or sits on a bike is automatically going to be a rockstar instructor without the proper training?

Let’s be clear about  one thing: I like the video idea, especially if you can choose your own mix to teach on the video as opposed to the release you did the module on. It’s a tad less stressful than taking the module a bunch of times. But bumping instructors up closer to that trainer plateau just for showing up at a module? C’mon. That also means people may not take the module seriously, and may spend the evening after Day 1 pounding shots at a bar as opposed to scripting and being prepared for Day 2.

If your technique sucks and your teaching style copies what is found on the instructor DVDs and you’re out of shape, you likely have no business being at an AIM II, modules designed for those of us wanting to take our teaching to levels beyond our wildest dreams. You likely need a lot more work to get there, because if you achieve trainer status and are selected to present at quarterlies or handle initial trainings, do we really want to have trainers whose technique isn’t up to par or doesn’t teach in the essence of their program?

Most of us have worked long and hard to get to where we’re at. I’ve been an instructor for only four years and went to AIM II after less than two years of certification. I’ve met a lot of people who have gone to AIM II and have worked extremely hard for it. In a sense, automatically giving an instructor “advanced” status who isn’t as talented as another could be a slap in the face to the instructor who worked their tail off to get to that point.

How will this “automatic” advanced status thing play out? Only time will tell, but I don’t see it ending well.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.