I’m writing this having just returned from a weekend in the UK, where I completed the Xpert L1-L2 Pole Instructor Training.
When I was considering taking an accredited pole instructor training course, I couldn’t find many reviews of Xpert Instructor Training, and the ones I could find were many years old. I’m hoping this review is helpful for anyone who is considering a pole instructor qualification.
First of all, do you need a certification to teach pole?
I’ve mentioned to a number of friends and colleagues that I was planning on doing a pole qualification, and I was surprised by how many people commented that you can’t really learn to be a pole instructor in a weekend course.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Someone who does not have any pole experience will absolutely not be able to learn enough in a weekend to teach a pole class.
I also believe that someone with significant pole experience, but no teaching experience is not the best person to teach a pole class. I think, at the very least, someone who is teaching pole should have at minimum, a fundamental knowledge of anatomy and physiology and how it applies to sports. They should also have some hands-on teaching experience, be it as an assistant or in a team-teaching environment with an experienced instructor.
But with some knowledge of the human body and some hands-on teaching experience, I think it is perfectly possible to teach a safe and effective pole class.
I do however think that the people pooh-poohing the qualification are perhaps missing the point. The intention of this qualification is NOT to teach people who have never done pole before how to teach pole. In fact, the Xpert L1-L2 Pole Instructor qualification requires that you have a MINIMUM of 6 months pole experience before signing up. Based on my experience, if you have been poling for only 6-12 months (without significant experience in a related discipline), there’s a good chance you will find aspects of this training uncomfortably challenging.
What do you learn?
I’ve copied the below list from the Xpert Pole Fitness website, and I would agree that everything on the list was adequately covered during the course.
- Equipment & Studio Set Up
- Safe Pole Fitness – Proper Safety techniques
- Importance of spotting
- Learning styles
- Principles of Pole Fitness
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Class Formats
- Importance of a warm up
- Pole Fitness Grip & Dance terminology
- Beginner moves –
-Dismounts from climbs
-Techniques for standing from floor
-Level 1 Spins
- Intermediate Pole Fitness Techniques
-Dismount from Climbing positions
-Techniques for standing from floor
-Level 2 Spins
- Design and Sequence a pole fitness class
- In depth Class designs and lesson plans
- Cool Down
In the week before the course, I received an email confirming my place and letting me know what to bring. The same email also contained links to the video database for the training and to the pre-course work.
The pre-course work is a crash-course in basic anatomy and physiology, including a PDF file containing information and activities to complete, and an online anatomy and physiology quiz that needed to be submitted before the course.
If you have a fitness industry or sports science qualification, you will find the pre-course work to be very simple. If anatomy and physiology is a new topic for you, then I recommend spending some time really learning the information contained in the pre-course work. Focus particularly on learning the major muscle groups, and the movements they control.
The first day:
On arrival at the training location, we were welcomed by our two trainers, Chloe Anderson and Annie Norris. We were given our handbooks and welcome packs and asked to complete the enclosed registration and indemnity forms. We were also asked to present our ID.
After a quick introduction/icebreaker round, we dove headfirst into the theory part of the day. I got the impression that this was not the usual structure of the day, but the pole studio was being used for classes for the first 2 hours or so of our training. This was quite a nice way to start the session, to be honest. Part of the theory work involved forming break-out groups to brainstorm different warm-up and on-pole exercises targeting various muscle groups. It was a nice way to start to connect with the other course participants.
After working through the theory, we participated in an L1 masterclass. Chloe led us through an Xpert style warm up, tailored to the needs of an L1 group. The body of the class ran us through 9 separate L1 pole moves, all of which flowed together to create a short routine. I really enjoyed working through this class in the Xpert recommended format. It’s quite different from the style of training offered at the studios that I train or work at, but moving forward, I plan to incorporate this class structure into the classes I teach.
After the masterclass, we covered the common terminology used by Xpert, including grip names and relevant ballet terminology.
The rest of the afternoon was spent working through the 39 L1 pole moves contained in the handbook. For each and every move, we discussed how to regress the move (make it easier for students who are struggling), how to progress the move (make it more challenging for students who have the move down pat), and how to spot the move in a manner that is safe and effective for both the student and teacher.
At the end of the first day, we were each assigned homework – namely, we were each assigned specific L1 pole moves that we would need to teach to the group the next day as part of our practical assessment. We were told we would also need to introduce ourselves as we would at the beginning of a group class, teach regressions and progressions for each move, and demonstrate our ability to spot appropriately and safely.
The second day:
The second day of training started with Chloe leading us through an L2 level warm up. It was a great way to start the day. It got our bodies moving and helped dust the cobwebs off after a surprisingly tiring first day. After the warm up, we were given half an hour to pair off and practice our teaching technique before our assessment.
I found the assessment itself incredibly nerve-wracking, but that is absolutely a reflection on me, and not a reflection on the group or the instructors. It was actually fairly straightforward, and it only took about 10 minutes for each of us.
After the assessment, we took a short break to unwind and clear our heads.
Then we jumped straight into running through the technique for the 26 L2 moves included in the handbook. Again, this was probably closer to 75-odd moves, as we went over the regressions and progressions for each move. There was also a strong focus on spotting techniques. Obviously, L2 moves have a greater potential for injury, so spotting is incredibly important. We had been previously advised that we were also being assessed on this part of the day. In particular, Chloe and Annie were watching our spotting technique. They were also observing our ability to work together and to execute the moves with correct technique.
The last activity of the day was the theory exam. It’s a 24 question, multiple choice exam. You get half an hour to complete the exam, and need a score of 80% to pass. Much of the exam is anatomy and physiology focussed. It’s a very straightforward exam, and everything it asks is clearly covered off over the 2-day training.
After everyone finished their exam, it was feedback time. We were taken, one-by-one into a private area of the studio, and given feedback on both of the practical assessments, and the theory exam. We were congratulated, given our certificates and “I am an Xpert” tank tops, and that was it! The course was over!
Would I recommend the Xpert Pole Instructor Training?
Based on my experience, I would absolutely recommend the Xpert Pole Instructor Training. I’m a big believer in the value of ongoing education and professional development, and I found this course particularly valuable.
I was already working as a pole instructor, teaching L1-L2 classes. For me, learning the Xpert spotting techniques was the most valuable takeaway. The class structure was a nice change from what I’m used to, and I feel quite inspired by the sample lesson plans we were given.
Who should do the Xpert Pole Instructor Training?
This particular training (Xpert L1-L2 Pole Instructor Training) is fantastic for pole students who aspire to teach, as well as for any pole instructors who teach L1-L2 pole.
The only pre-requisite to book into the course is 6 months of pole experience.
I would, however, recommend that you can do:
- at least one clean pole pullup on a static pole,
- a no-jump invert to inverted straddle/inside leg hang/outside leg hang
- a cross-ankle release
You’ll still be able to participate in the course if these moves are hard for you, or even if they’re currently out of your reach. It will, however, make your life a little easier if you are confident in these moves.
Is it worth the money?
At the time of writing this article, the Xpert Pole Instructor Training that I joined is $599 USD. For me, it was 100% worth the money for a few reasons.
For one, I think that investing in continuing education is almost always worthwhile, even if you end up learning what NOT to do. In the case of this course, I learned skills that will make me a better pole instructor. Secondly, I am a registered personal trainer and fitness professional. I need to constantly update my education to satisfy a number of registering bodies including EREPS, NASM and Fitness Australia. Xpert is recognised across a huge range of registering bodies.
I enjoyed this training so much that I’m already saving my pennies to complete the L3-L4 Pole Instructor Training and the Kids Pole and Aerial Instructor Training.
Are you considering taking an Xpert Pole Instructor Training course? Got questions about my experience? Leave a comment below, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on my facebook page and I’d be happy to help you out.
*This is an unsponsored review. I paid for my course in full and have no business relationship with Xpert or X-Pole.