Teaching at the YMCA
by Margaret Olmsted, January 2019
`This past spring I started teaching at the YMCA. I first had to go through an application process that almost drove me away but I bravely stuck it out and started teaching. And I’m very glad I did.
The bad news:
- The classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 am and Saturdays at 9 am. Some mornings that feels very early.
- I only get $20/class.
- The students are almost all senior citizens.
- People come to the Y to exercise and try tai chi. They don’t come to learn tai chi. So most never practice and therefore most don’t remember it.
- Every class someone new shows up so I almost always end up reviewing from the beginning (which is good for everyone) and the pace is very slow.
- An evening qigong class never had more than 3 students so I dropped it after 2 months.
- They only pay one teacher so there is no team teaching. A second apprentice can come as a guest and help teach a few times but then either has to get hired or become a member.
The good news:
- The Y does all the promoting and all I have to do is show up.
- The Y has been very flexible with my schedule. They hired a second teacher who covers for me when I travel.
- I ended up with a great core group that really enjoys learning tai chi and comes 2-3x/week.
- It took months, but now I have 2 classes working on the form up to single whip and one that has started the second third.
- This fall I started getting some younger students and planted the seeds that they could learn how to teach and several were very interested.
- I created a video of the first third to help with practice and put it on Vimeo. A few people use it. Let me know if you want it.
- They love our style of teaching.
- Classes are about 50 minutes and I found that doing a lot of TYB and Walking on Thin Ice in the beginning is helpful to teach principles.
- Several of them have expressed interest in attending a summer training.
- A free membership comes with teaching at the Y and that includes classes and use of the pool, etc.
- Having been hired at the YMCA, I can teach at any YMCA.
- It’s not a lot of money but I hate promoting classes and I enjoy teaching so it works for me. And teaching has always been about service anyway.
- It has become a great place to find a few proficient students aged 20-40.
- If you are looking for more opportunities to teach and not have to deal with rent and promo, consider teaching at your local YMCA!