IntroductionHR, Training

To be successful, a fitness professional (either a military physical training instructor or civilian qualified fitness instructor) must have a thorough knowledge and skill practice. This is true regardless of the area of practice.

The fitness professional must be aware of, and understand, eight fundamental principles of being a good instructor.

The Eight Principles of a Good Instructor

  1. Aim;
  2. Planning and preparation;
  3. Interest and enthusiasm;
  4. Use of the right senses;
  5. Maximum activity;
  6. Human factors;
  7. Progress checks (testing, validation and evaluation); and
  8. Personnel management skills.

Principle 01: Aim

All Physical Training must be purposeful. The instructor must ask themselves before planning a programme, preparing a lesson or applying an exercise – “what is my aim?”

Instructors must know the results they expect from each exercise, lesson or stage of training, and how they are to be obtained.

Formative Outcome

The intended immediate and on-going outcomes are progress targets set for each individual exercise, lesson and/or stage of training period.

Summative Outcome

The intended, and ‘ultimate’, outcome is to produce the fittest, most efficient soldier possible.

Principle 02: Planning and Preparation

The physical training programme must be well-planned and the following factors must be considered when compiling such a programme:

  • Aim;
  • Duration of the complete training period and the number of Physical Training lessons;
  • Exercises included must be purposeful;
  • Physical Training must be complementary to other forms of training;
  • Standard of fitness of the soldiers undergoing the training;
  • Medical liaison;
  • Number of soldiers to be trained;
  • Availability of assistants;
  • Equipment available; and
  • Alternative working area (e.g. wet or cold weather plan).

Preparation of Lesson

Poor preparation will undoubtedly lead to a muddled and inefficiently conducted lesson. The amount of preparation required will depend largely on the knowledge and experience of the instructor and the complexity of the training, but it must be thorough.

Instructors should not be afraid to seek advice from their peers or senior colleagues.

Principle 03: Interest and Enthusiasm

The instructor must be an enthusiast in their subject to become a good leader, and take personal interest in every member of their class. They must also be interested in all aspects of their work and must constantly strive to improve their own knowledge and ability, integrity, good living and all round physical efficiency.  Instructors should therefore:

  • Be enthusiastic;
  • Know the subject;
  • Be purposeful;
  • Have a pleasing manner; and
  • Be painstaking.

Principle 04: Use of the Right Senses

All learning is achieved through the use of one or more of the five senses:

  • Touch;
  • Sight;
  • Hearing;
  • Smell; and
  • Taste.

In physical training the senses: touch (feeling); sight (seeing); and hearing (listening) are the most important in learning and are normally in the order of importance shown above.

Whenever possible, these senses should be used together and instructors should learn the most effective combination.

Principle 05: Maximum Activity

Instructors need to ensure the proper balancing of time spent during a physical training lesson:

  • Explanation = 8%
  • Demonstration = 16%
  • Practice = 76%

The above ratio applied to the 20 minute main theme of a 40 minute lesson would provide the following divisions:

  • Practice and coaching = 15 minutes.
  • Demonstrations = 3 minutes.
  • Explanation = 2 minutes.

Far more doing than seeing and hearing will give you maximum activity.

Principle 06: Human Factors

Instructors should be aware of the human factor and should consider the following:

  • Individual differences;
  • Motivation;
  • Goal setting;
  • The environment; and
  • Class consideration.

Principle 07: Progress Checks (Testing, Validation and Evaluation)

In physical training, as in all other instructional subjects, progress must be checked at various stages to ensure that the class is improving physically, absorbing knowledge and acquiring skills.

Principle 08: Personnel Management Skills

Personnel management skills are required for an efficient and safe lesson, and include:

  • Dress;
  • Conduct;
  • Integrity;
  • Bearing;
  • Honesty;
  • Reliability;
  • Firm, fair and friendly;
  • Consistency; and
  • Manner.

Example Lesson Plans

Example lesson plans can be found in the downloads section of the website.


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