Instructor Fitness

The role of instructor can be physically demanding, and care should be taken to prepare for the role. While there is no specific physical assessment required by the IBA, employers should take appropriate action to prepare instructor candidates, noting that the role has aerobic, local muscular endurance, strength (lifting, push and pull), and flexibility demands associated with it.  These demands prevail throughout employment and instructors should maintain an appropriate level of fitness relevant to their role. Pre-existing conditions, especially those associated with range of movement will, in some cases, limit the capacity of the instructor and care should be taken through the initial employment process to confirm that they are fit to perform the expected duty. This also applies to instructors returning to work following a period of absence and/or injury. The method of achieving the required level of fitness will depend upon the local conditions of employment and the individual, but the following activities have historically been used as reasonable indicators. They are neither prescribed nor exhaustive, but indicative of the types of physical demands that can be expected:

The Multi-stage “Beep test”

This is a common maximal aerobic fitness test that consists of running between 2 lines, 20 meters apart within a specified time. The measurement is age and gender specific, and allowance should be made accordingly. More information on this exercise can be found here

The “Burpee”

This is a full body exercise used in strength training as an aerobic exercise. It is a simple test of strength endurance, agility, balance, and coordination. In simple terms it is a full squat thrust interspersed with a vertical jump. It may also be modified (increase difficulty) by adding a full press-up. The measurement is age and gender specific, and allowance should be made accordingly. More information on this exercise can be found here

The Pull-up

The pull up using a horizontal bar, can be a good indicator of weight-related upper body strength. It is conducted by hanging from a horizontal bar using either an over or under hand grip and moving from a full long-arm position to a position where the chin is touching the bar. The measurement is age, gender, and weight specific, and allowance should be made accordingly. Caution is required, as it favours lighter “athletic” men, and it is not always a reasonable indicator of absolute strength in heavier men or females. More information on this exercise can be found here

Press-up

Also known as a push-up, this is an alternative exercise to the pull-up to measure weight related strength and it often a better indicator of relative strength in females. It involves movement from a horizontal prone press-up position with the hands placed shoulder width apart and may be modified with a raised hand position according to the requirement. The measurement is age and gender specific and allowance should be made accordingly. More information on this exercise can be found here

Tunnel walking and flying

It is advantageous to provide potential instructor candidates time in the wind tunnel as this may demonstrate a degree of aptitude for the role.  Basic flight-related exercises can be modified to provide insight from a training perspective and to gauge potential to learn within a physically demanding tunnel environment. Such exercises could include: FTF experience; individual & group walking and “carving”; transitions to flight and standing; balancing drills and an introduction to light weight support

As with all physical activity, appropriate preparation is important to reduce the risk of injury and to optimize performance. This can be achieved through regular workout and fitness routines that exercise and strengthen the key muscle groups and an appropriate warm-up. Depending on the specific activity, indoor skydiving requires you to use a range of muscle groups, so it is beneficial for instructors and students to perform a warm-up prior to entering the chamber. The stretching routine should include all areas of the body: the neck, back, chest, arms, legs, hips and shoulders and the IBA, in association with the muscle-performance training group, Axis Performance, has created an example warm up and work out plan that can be viewed and downloaded here.