The Power of Progressive Teaching: Offering Choices, Not Limits

When you stand at the front of the room as an instructor, your words and your teaching style lay down the path for your members’ experiences. Successful progressive teaching is one of the vital skills in making that experience positive, empowering, and inclusive.

The Essence of Progressive Teaching

Progressive teaching is all about setting a base expectation in class that everyone can achieve, and then giving options for individuals who are ready and willing to do more. The magic of this method lies in its inclusivity and the empowerment it delivers.

The Problem with Modifications

For a long time, modifications were the go-to solution for accommodating different fitness levels and abilities in a class. However, they inadvertently created a hierarchy. Offering modifications can unintentionally signal to members that they are choosing an “easy” or “less than” option, fostering feelings of inadequacy or disappointment.

The Shift to Offering Options

Now, the tide is turning toward offering a range of options without any hierarchical implications. This approach enables everyone to choose the movement or technique that suits them best, free from judgment or the sensation of falling short. It’s not about doing more or less, but about doing what’s right for each individual.

Fostering Freedom and Self-Choice in Movement

As an instructor, guide your class in exploring various options of technique, ensuring everyone feels free and confident in their choices. Encourage them to listen to their bodies and select the movement that resonates with them the most at that moment. This approach helps in removing the hierarchy of movement, enabling each person to take control and make the decision that best aligns with their needs and capabilities.


In the realm of progressive teaching, everyone has a place, and every choice is valid and valued. As an instructor, your role is to pave the way for freedom, confidence, and the joy of movement, ensuring every member feels seen, supported, and strong in their fitness journey.

Note: This post is part of a series on “The 10 Skills of a Great Women’s Instructor.” If you haven’t read the introduction post, make sure to check it out here for a comprehensive overview and a roadmap of the skills discussed. Stay tuned for more insights and strategies to enhance your role as an instructor, creating a resonant and impactful environment for your members.

Written By

Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim, the founder of KUMA Fit (a women’s kickboxing & fitness studio in Saco, Maine) and Stacy Kim Coaching, has dedicated her life to teaching. She has taught over 10,000 classes and has trained in martial arts and fitness for over 15 years. Today, her mission is to redefine what fitness means for women, to stop objectifying the body, and focus on moving to feel strong.

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