Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Business Advice, Fitness Professionals, Getting Paid, Subbing Classes

How to Fill Your Schedule as a Group Fitness Instructor

Being a group fitness instructor is a labor of love. Many instructors get into the field because they like exercise and enjoy helping others have fun while getting fit. One of the toughest aspects of this career path is finding enough work to bring in a full time income. I’ve heard some say that it isn’t possible or sustainable, but I disagree. With consistent effort and a game plan, you can learn how to fill your schedule as a group fitness instructor. See my top tips below.

Tip #1: Teach Group Fitness for Multiple Studios

Both large gyms and small studios are constantly hiring group fitness instructors.

In fitness, 20-30 hours a week of scheduled classes can be considered full time work. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will find that many class hours at one location. This means, you may need to work for three or four studios to have the load you desire.

If you’re a skilled instructor with a good reference from another current or former employer, it will be easy to get your foot in the door of new fitness centers. After the audition, managers typically start new hires off with one or two classes to see how their members like them. With the community’s approval, you stand a good chance of being asked to take on more classes. Larger gyms are constantly adding new classes or making changes to their schedule, so with any luck, you’ll be able to steadily gain more classes.

Tip #2: Master a Variety of Group Fitness Formats

An instructor with multiple formats and a few years of experience is a GFM’s gold star!

The most valuable instructors come in two types: 1) highly skilled format specialists and 2) seasoned multi-format instructors.

Although boutique studios that focus on just ONE thing grew in popularity these last couple of decades, there has been a recent shift to specializing in one thing while offering a little bit of everything (think yoga studios that offer pilates, sculpt, or spinning). Larger fitness centers offer a wide range of group fitness classes including but not limited to:

  • Spin/Cycling
  • Treadmill Running
  • TRX Suspension
  • Dance Fitness
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Water Aerobics
  • Circuit Training
  • Cardio Conditioning
  • Step Aerobics

The most common advice I hear given to fitness professionals is to specialize in one thing. I couldn’t disagree more. An instructor trained in multiple formats has a better chance of getting back to back classes and can step up to sub in a pinch. If they are someone students already love, it can open the doors for members trying new offerings. So if you’ve been thinking about picking up a new format, don’t walk. RUN and sign up for a training.

Tip #3: Fill Your Group Fitness Schedule By Subbing

Subs are needed almost daily across studios. Gain a reputation for saying yes when they need you!

A common struggle fitness companies experience is the lack of subs. This has always been an issue, but the problem has grown since the 2020 mass shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since being a GFI is a side-gig for many people, a staggering amount of instructors chose to retire from teaching instead of returning to their gyms once they reopened. Others relocated. This has made it difficult and near impossible to get classes covered when instructors are sick or go on vacation.

Personal Share: That One Time I Was a Go-To Sub

There was a short period of time when I cleared my class schedule to work as a part time staff blogger at LoveToKnow. While that took up about 20 hours per week, I made it a point to get in anywhere from 8-10 additional hours of subbing (my teaching rate was double my writing rate). Even now, as a full time instructor, I can easily pick up an additional 4-5 hours a week. I don’t because recovery is an important part of the job. However, the opportunities are there if I want or need them.

Check Frequently for Sub Opportunities

Most studios have a specific format for sending sub requests via email or text. Check your inbox regularly for open opportunities. Make it a point to respond quickly whether or not you’re available, that way other teachers know to contact you next time they’re in need. Note: Weekends, early mornings (think 5:30 to 7:00am start times), and holidays are particularly difficult to fill, so if you have openings during those days and/or times, you are a fitness manager’s savior! Some studios even pay a bonus for these slots on top of your hourly rate. So if you’re free, why not?

Tip #4: Ask About Open Slots in the Group Fitness Schedule

Group fitness instructors who ask more often for open slots get more slots.

The day I started sharing my open availability with my group fitness managers (GFMs) was the day my class schedule finally filled up. GFMs at large fitness centers are constantly reaching out to their reliable instructors to get them on the schedule for more classes. When I just started as a group fitness instructor, I often got frustrated when my availability didn’t match up to the days and times my managers sent me. One day, instead of getting frustrated, I simply said “I’m not available that day, but I have open slots on X and X days between X and X times.” Even if there were no slots currently available, I put it in their mind that I was interested in taking on more, so they continued asking. Note: This is also a great way to shift into your ideal schedule.

Although it didn’t happen right away, within a year, I had about 18 classes on the schedule across 3 studios. That didn’t include 1:1 training clients and subbing opportunities, which often raised my total hours to about 25 per week. 

Start Filling Your Schedule As a Group Fitness Instructor Today

If someone ever tells you that it’s not possible to make a full time living as a GFI, tell them they’re wrong! Just like any career, if you’re truly dedicated to teaching, you have to put in the work. With a little persistence, a commitment to honing your craft, and a reputation as a reliable fitness professional, you’re bound to build the class load you desire. Although it may take some time to fill your schedule as a group fitness instructor, it IS possible. If there’s one or more steps above you haven’t yet taken, I recommend that you start today. I have faith in you ❤️

Good Luck,


Want to see more of the content I create? Find all my latest content on my Instagram channel @transformwithnadia

Posted in Uncategorized

Top 5 Daily Tasks of a Certified Personal Trainer

Although I would love to say that we certified personal trainers are #livingthedream every hour of every workday, what we do IS after all our job. There are aspects of it that never thought of until I was all up in the grind. Since I want you to be prepared if/when you become a personal trainer, today I’m sharing the top 5 daily tasks of a certified personal trainer.

Recruiting Clients

Many entry level personal training jobs require that trainers find clients by “working the floor” of the gym. This means that if they see someone working out, they may offer suggestions on their form and a free session in the hopes of enticing them to buy a package or upgrade to a PT membership. It’s a right of passage for many beginning on the path to a solid fitness career.

Scheduling Sessions

Once you recruit clients, you must make sure that they are regularly scheduled to attend sessions with you. Most make this process seamless by using a third party scheduling software like MindBody or Pike13. They integrate directly with Google Calendar and iCal so you don’t have put in the legwork twice. Smart trainers book out all sessions in advance, ideally on the same days and times every week. It helps clients stay consist and makes it a lot easier for you to plan your schedule too.

Program Design

Because I’m a research and processes nerd, this is probably my favorite part of job. I get excited when I’m putting together new workouts, especially when I have the time and flexibility to be as creative as possible! Workouts are designed based on:

  • Client Goals
  • Client Abilities
  • The Tools/Equipment Available

I based my 15 Full Body Workouts on the equipment I had available to me at Equinox. Although I use it mainly to teach my most engaging group fitness class, Damage Control, I have often borrowed and cut the workouts down to use with 1:1 clients.

Training Sessions

Helping others achieve their goals through exercise is the reason many trainer hopefuls enter the field in the first place. Although the build up may be slow at first, many are able to build a full schedule of training clients, leading sessions 4-6 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. Session types may vary widely from delivering a 60 minute high intensity sweat session to providing tailored mobility work and myofascial release.

Pro Note: Contrary to what some may think, this DOES NOT involve working out with your client. Much of the work is demonstrating exercises and correcting our clients’ form.

This is where we get to really impact the lives of others, so it’s natural that this is a part of the job that trainers live for 💓

Follow Up

Last but not least, there is a lot of follow up to stay in touch with clients. This is to

  1. Check in after a tough session or a missed session
  2. Send between-session homework
  3. Share educational materials and nutrition plans
  4. Deliver program announcements

When you look at the range of tasks a personal trainer does, it’s easy to see why many in the field are beginning to use the title Fitness Coach. Our work involves so much more than just training sessions. We coach people on how to improve their lives, one workout or meal at a time.



PS – If you’re interested in learning how to build healthy habits that will help you feel happier and more energized for life, my 90 Day Nutrition Challenge may be for you! Click here to find out more.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Business Advice, Content Creation, Fitness Professionals

Content Scheduling Made Simple for Fitness, Nutrition, & Wellness Professionals

Are you a fitness, nutrition, or wellness professional looking to engage your community and prospective clients? The content game can seem overwhelming at times, but with a few simple tips and tricks, you can have several months to a year’s worth of content scheduled out in no time flat.

Book a Weekly “Get It Done” Day

I have every Friday set aside to work on my major to-do’s. This can be anything from writing blogs to updating my website to program design or marketing tasks. Racheal Cook, whom I just started listening to recently calls this her weekly CEO Date. What you call it is up to you, but pick a day in your week when you have a solid blog of time and use it as your weekly opportunity to get tasks like your content scheduling completed.

Create a Master Content List

Create a document that includes every single blog you and your company have written. Things to include are:

  • Categories
  • Titles
  • Links

You can link the title directly to the blog or include the link on the line below (whatever works better for your mind). Click here for a super simple blog list I created when I was writing for Love to Know.

Fill in the Blanks

I recommend that you have 2-3 blogs a week going out on social channels and newsletters. If you add it all up that means you need anywhere between 104 to 156 pieces of content for the year. If you don’t have enough of your own content, fill in the blanks using content written by professionals you trust. I regularly pull from the content posted on my fitness, nutrition, and wellness bloggers group.

Schedule Your Blogs

Nowadays, scheduling features are built into certain social platforms. Facebook is a good example of this. But I find that scheduling apps are more useful. Not only do they allow you to post the same content on multiple platforms, but they also give you a better visual layout so you can stay organized. My personal favorite is Social Pilot. I chose this platform after quite a bit of experimentation. It’s super user friendly, visually appealing, and serves every function I need as a coach and content creator. Click here to check out the plans they offer.

Scheduling Tips

Once you’ve created your list and booked your “get it done” day, make sure to sit down at your designated time and get to scheduling! My recommendations:

  • Schedule certain categories on certain days. For example, Mondays may be for motivational blogs, Wednesdays for recipes or Nutrition, and Fridays for workout videos.
  • Include a “teaser.” A linked photo is not enough to draw people in these days. Write a sentence or two describing why your community should be interested and how they can benefit from reading/watching.
  • Be specific about the next course of action. Specifically use words “Head to the blog now…” or “Watch the video” or “Follow the link…” You get the picture.

Get as much as you can scheduled in the time allotted, but don’t stress if you don’t finish it all. That brings me to the next important piece.

Book Another Scheduling Date

It always takes longer than I think it will to schedule out my posts, so I often schedule an email to myself (using Boomerang) reminding me to re-up anywhere from one to three months later. Then I forget about it until the reminder pops up in my inbox!

This set it and forget it mentality really takes the stress out of getting your content out there. Although it’s a necessary part of doing business these days, it shouldn’t be something you focus on all the time. After all, you have clients to attend to and prospective clients who are waiting for you to find them.

So, like you tell your own clients, don’t wait. Pull out your calendar and book your first “Get It Done Day” now! Type the word “DONE” in the comments once you’ve taken this first step.

Good Luck,

Nadia 😉

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m Running the 2019 Silicon Valley Turkey Trot! Here’s Why You Should Too

If you read my blog describing that one year I joined my high school cross-country team, you may have been surprised to read the title of this blog. Yes, friends, I’m velcro-tightening my latest pair of barefoot running shoes, and hitting the road again to run in the 2019 Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Here’s why you should too.

Support a Good Cause

The SVTT raises money for a variety of local causes, including the following.

  • Healthier Kids Foundation – an organization that provides health screenings, insurance coverage, and education to families who need it.
  • Second Harvest – an organization that provides a food bank, nutrition education, and meals to homeless individuals and families
  • the Housing Trust – working to create and maintain affordable housing in the Bay Area affordable
  • the Health Trust – provides services, grants, and advocacy in the areas of health and equality.

Improve Your Health

The benefits of running are numerous. As an outdoor, moderate to high impact sport, if you stick with a regular routine of running after the race, you may experience one or more of the following benefits:

  • Stronger bones
  • Increased endurance
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Boosted Mood
  • Weight Loss

Plus, if you run with a friend, loved one(s), or a group, you’ll gain the opportunity to strengthen your relationship. Research shows that you become happier when you spend more time with positive people.

Get Started on Your New Years’ Resolutions

If you read my blog regularly, chances are good that you’re either an active person or you want to be. If there’s a goal you want to achieve or a New Year’s Resolution you’ve set that involve moving more, a 5k is a good place to start! No pressure to run the entire course. You can walk, jog, or work some combination of the two!

Want to Run WITH me?

If you’re local to the Bay Area, California, Run the Turkey Trot with me! Click here to sign up while tickets last! Then post a comment below to let me know you’re in!

See you on the course! 😉


Not from the Bay Area? Every major city has it’s turkey day run! Let me know which one you’re rocking in the comments!

Posted in Self Reflection

Rest In Peace: Three Things I Learned from My Friend Kirk Akahoshi

A friend of mine from grad school recently passed away. Although we weren’t close, I will always remember him fondly. We met during those most chaotic, yet transformative years of my life. And from both near and afar, he taught me lessons that will continue to impact my health and my happiness until the day I pass into the next life. Today, I feel compelled to share with you the top three things I learned from my friend Kirk Akahoshi.

When The Opportunity Arises, Dance.

Hip hop was his format of choice, so every few months I’d get a text inviting me to try a new hip hop night Kirk found somewhere in the Bay Area. To be honest, I spent a lot of time alone, feeling homesick and stewing in dark thoughts. So when the opportunity arose to dance, it was a welcome relief. Who knew that years later, I’d become a dance fitness instructor?

I Deserve to Be Happy

At the risk of sounding crude… I’ve dated a lot of dirtbags in my life. Although we rarely saw each other after grad school, Kirk had this amazing intuitive sense that I wasn’t happy. I remember the time when I brought an ex (my boyfriend at the time) to his birthday party in the city.

“Listen to me,” He said. “You deserve someone who loves you and appreciates you for the amazing person you are. You DESERVE to be happy.” At the time, I hadn’t even realized how unhappy I was or how damaging the relationship was to my self esteem. But only a few months later, I realized how right he was.

PS – As you can probably guess, I ended that relationship and resolved to be more picky when choosing a life partner. Can’t say I got it perfect on the first try, but my relationships did get better. And now I’m with a man who loves and adores me, as I do him.

Recognize the Impact You Make

Kirk is a huge inspiration to me as an entrepreneur and coach. I was proud to see him creating a difference in the lives of men he worked with and I looked at him as an example of success, someone to aspire to.

One of the last things I heard him say was that he mistakenly thought he wasn’t doing enough in his business and his life. So he spent years stressing out over it, feeling the need to get better and to do more. But in reality, he…

  • Was creating change in the world at a level that those of us who feel called to the helping field can only imagine.
  • Was married to a loving, supportive, and talented wife.
  • Had a wealth of strong, meaningful friendships.

That day, he realized that he had actually been WINNING in work and in life. Knowing his prognosis was bad…He warned us. Don’t make the same mistake.

Rest In Peace, My Friend

In my field (Transpersonal Psychology), it is said that in your life, you meet certain people for a reason. I feel grateful to have crossed paths with Kirk Akahoshi in this lifetime. Whether he knew it or not, he made in a difference in my life. I hope that his transition to the next incarnation is as smooth as possible and that I am lucky enough to bump into him again.

Love & Light <3


Posted in Body Fat Loss, Healthy Eating, Healthy Eating, Immunity, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Simple Berry Breakfast for Gut Health: A Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

The people who know me best know what I’m like when it comes to breakfast. I like my go-to’s, which include eggs, gluten free toast, and chicken sausage. But when my nutrition coach asked me to lighten up on the grains and boost my morning fiber intake, I accepted the challenge. That’s how I came up with my simple berry breakfast for gut health: a not so guilty pleasure.

Ingredients & Directions

You’re gonna love this one, because it only requires 4 ingredients and it serves two!

  • 2 Cups Organic Mixed Berries
  • 1/4 Cup Organic cashews and walnuts (or nuts of choice)
  • 2 TBSP Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Non-Dairy, No Sugar Added Yogurt

Place it all into a bowl, stir it up, then enjoy!

Note: I had mine alongside eggs and chicken sausage 😉 What will you have YOURS with?

Eat up <3


Posted in Clean Living, Getting Rid of Toxins, Goal Setting, Healthy Eating, Personal Growth

The Toxins In Our Lives: Shocking Facts I Learned at the EWG Clean & Healthy Living Summit

Today I attended the Environmental Working Groups’s Clean & Healthy Living Summit at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The event was both confirming and eye opening for me on my journey better my nutrition knowledge and create healthier habits for my body and my life. I found out that there are SO many toxins in our lives. Keep reading to find out the shocking facts I learned at the EWG clean & healthy living summit.

We Are Born Riddled with Toxins

Scientists from EWG cited a study conducted on the chord blood of newborns, which showed the appearance of hundreds of toxins from mercury, PFA and pesticides, to flame retardants, BPAs and PCBs… 287 to be exact. 180 are known to “cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.” Wow!

If kiddos have this much in them at birth (having just come out of the safety of the womb), just IMAGINE how much we are exposing ourselves to on a daily basis. To start hitting the reset button, our expert panel of scientists suggested these top tips:

  1. Eat Organic
  2. Use a home water filter
  3. Use glass instead of plastic food storage containers. If you do use plastic, avoid microwaving your food in them.

Your Furniture May Be Poisoning You

Although I already knew that there were toxins in the environment and in our foods that could vastly impact our health and wellness, I was shocked to find out what simple things in my home could be dangerous to my health.

  • Shower curtains – plastic and other synthetic materials in this typical household good can leach out gases that are considered to be “hazardous air pollutants.”
  • Your couch and other furniture – The culprits here are the glues, flame retardants, fabrics, and finishes. For a list of toxins, check out this article form PaloHacks.
  • Carpet
  • Paint

These are only a few of the many items in your home that may be hazardous. Thankfully, EWG created a Healthy Home Guide to help us reduce our risk of contamination.

Personal Care Products are Unregulated

According to presenters, there are 1400 ingredients that have been banned in the EU because they are known to be toxic. In the U.S., there are 12. We’re talking about ingredients that are known endocrine disrupters, cause genetic defects, and linked to cancer. In fact, even when consumers have reported adverse effects from products they are using, companies are not required by law to report these concerns to the FDA.

Huh!? This little tidbit made no sense at all to me! What is a personal care product? This class includes but is not limited to:

  • Body wash
  • Shampoos and Conditioners
  • Cosmetics
  • Lotions
  • Deodorant
  • Nail Polish
  • Toothpaste

The fix: Switch to non-toxic alternatives.

We are lucky that right now there are a ton of products on the market that we can use instead. I personally make my own body and hair oil mixture and I swear by Dr. Bronner’s, which has products in almost all categories. But of course, EWG also has a guide for that called “Skin Deep.” Click here to access it.

Change Starts with You

Some of the scientists at the EWG Summit painted a bleak picture of our current system and standards for regulating food, home, and personal care products. But what they also shared was that we each have the power to educate ourselves and the people we love the most. I know that I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned with my family, my clients, and as many others as I can. Who will you reach out to with your new knowledge? And what small changes can you start implementing today that would make an impact on your health and wellness?

Let me know in the comments below 😉


Posted in Body Fat Loss, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Personal Growth, Weight Loss

Online Nutrition Challenge: Coming Soon!

How would you like to be given all of the tools that you need to create a healthy, happy lifestyle for you and your family/loved ones?

We say it every year… that this is the year we’re going finally start exercising and eating right. In 2020, don’t just SAY it. DO it with the…

#NutritionGoals! 90 Day Challenge

Think of the #NutritionGoals! Challenge as a 3 month adventure into creating a lifestyle that will help you feel motivated, energized, and happier than ever! Throughout this journey together, we’ll learn habits and skills that will:

  • Shift your mindset
  • Nourish your body with nutritious and great tasting food,
  • Transform your physical body.

More Than Just Weight Loss

In contrast to a typical diet programs, which require a ton of restriction and tend to be short-lived, in this challenge, you will learn to master small, digestible tasks one at a time so that each habit becomes an integral part of your daily routine. Bonus: This is an opportunity to create lasting change for yourself and anyone in your life that relies on you for guidance and support (kids, friends, your spouse, and/or family)!!!

More Details to Come!

I’ll be releasing more information on this exciting program in the upcoming weeks. If you want to stay up to date with this and other news, make sure to follow me on instagram @nslifeinfitness.

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Confidence, Gaining Experience, How to Become a Fitness Instructor, My Life In Fitness, Personal Growth, What It's Like to Be a Group Fitness Instructor

5 Reasons I Shouldn’t Have Become a Group Fitness Instructor

In this world, we are often taught to base our future careers off of what we have already done in the past, along with our strongest skill sets. When I set out to become a group fitness instructor, all I had was a love of kickboxing and a lifetime of playing sports to back me. What I didn’t know was that I lacked many skills, qualities, and habits that were fundamental to a life in fitness. That’s why today I’m sharing 5 Reasons I Shouldn’t Have Become a Group Fitness Instructor.

Reason 1: I’m An Introvert

Who knew that enjoying the workout was completely different from leading and creating engaging group fitness classes? If you’re not up on Myer’s Briggs, a key identifying personality trait is introversion versus extroversion. Whereas extroverts have a tendency to really enjoy being around others, to thrive in social situations, and display a range of positive and intense emotions, introverts are the opposite. They tend to:

  • Prefer being alone or in the company of a small, select group of friends
  • Come off as socially awkward or uninterested
  • Experience a wide range of emotions inwardly, but channel it inward instead of expressing it outwardly

I credit John Heringer, Chief Motivator at Fast Action Training (now Method3 Fitness) for being the first to point out that I needed to speak more, get louder, and bring the intensity so I could motivate our clients. I can’t say it was easy, but these are skills I was able to learn and I continue to refine them even now!

Reason 2: I’m Asthmatic

If you read my previous blog about That One Year I Joined the Cross Country Team, you got a sampling of what it was like for me to be an athlete with asthma. But the truth is, as an adult I never realized it could have an impact on my chosen career path. In fact, when I first start out as a fitness professional, I didn’t have an inhaler (Remind me to come back to the problem of insurance in a later post). And yet I taught the following formats:

I never actually thought that I couldn’t hang… until I couldn’t anymore. Long story short, I started getting sick due to my workload. When I finally realized it was the asthma, instead of quitting I decided to give up my most intense classes and focus on a path that was more sustainable. I realized that being an asthmatic fitness professional wasn’t a no-go. But for me, avoiding burnout required me to plan smarter, not work harder.

Reason 3: I Was Out of Shape

I discovered fairly quickly after entering into the fitness profession maintaining a full time fitness schedule was physically and mentally demanding to say the least! When I first started out, I taught an average of 4-6 classes each week. After each class shift, which varied in length from one to three classes, I went home and crashed. If I wasn’t working, I was usually sleeping. Even 10 hour nights weren’t enough, until I:

Hey, if my job is to help others get healthier, I had to make sure I was healthy too, from the inside out.

Reason 4: I Wasn’t Skinny

“Weight” and “body fat loss” are major drivers within the fitness industry. Although those words never entered my thoughts when I was doing my research, I’ve heard from instructors all over the country how it affects the way they are viewed and treated. There’s this idea that we should “be the example” for our students. But in my opinion, the goals we set as individuals, both teachers and students, vary widely. Why assume that weight loss is the goal? There are many others:

Most students will never feel skinny. It’s not the instructor’s responsibility to make them feel that way either. But it is our job to deliver an effective and inspiring workout.

Reason 5: Zero Experience Teaching

Well… zero experience is a bit of an exaggeration. As a matter of fact, in grad school I was a teaching assistant. So I’d given lectures and led labs on how to effective qualitative research. Not to mention that one time I organized and lead a merengue and bachata meetup. But I guess that’s not the same. I’ll never forget that first interview I had.

“So you’ve NEVER lead a group fitness class before?” This was John from FAT.

I told him point blank. “No.”

But it wasn’t a deal breaker. And, seven and a half years later (at the time I’m writing this post), I’m still teaching there. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John and his team (especially Lead Coach Keith) for taking a chance on me and for helping me develop the skills I have today. They emphasized the fact that I shared the values and I found very quickly that it was the right studio for me. And over time, I gained more experience, there and at other studios.

The Lesson: Keep Learning. Keep Growing.

I’ve never been one to sweat the details of what I CAN’T do. And what I’ve learned in my career as a fitness professional is that, if there’s something I don’t know how to do, with some time and effort, I can figure it out. As a matter of fact, LEARNING has always been my greatest skill and my favorite thing to do. If you can teach yourself to not only enjoy, but become good at THAT, just imagine what you can do… even if there are reasons you shouldn’t.

Until next time 🙂


Posted in My Life In Fitness, Playing Sports

That One Year I Joined My High School Cross Country Team

My very first time running a race was in my freshman year of high school. I had this tremendous desire to be stronger, faster, and healthier than ever, so I decided to become a year-round athlete.

Unfortunately, I’d missed pre-season tryouts for all of the fall athletic teams, meaning that the soccer team and the volleyball team were full. That left me with cross-country. At 13, I’d already been playing basketball for 8 years and had danced for almost 10. I had the confidence of a natural-born ninja and was up to try anything.

Bad at Running?

As a group fitness instructor, I hear students say all the time that they are “bad at running.” But actually…Human beings are wired for running, so most people, despite what they think, aren’t bad at it. They may be de-conditioned, lack the skill to run efficiently, or have some sort of condition that makes difficult or uncomfortable to run. I was the latter case.

Blame It On the Lungs

You may already know this, but for those who don’t… I’m asthmatic.

I was diagnosed at birth. Short version of my story: Despite receiving the horrifyingly misguided news that I would never be able to be physically active, my mom realized very early on that playing sports was my jam! Although I often had to hack and wheeze my way through the 3rd and 4th quarters on the court (constantly yelling “I’m *cough* fine! *hack* to my coach), it never occurred to me that my lung condition would hold me back. That’s why it was particularly shocking for me to realize… I sucked at cross-country!

So All We Do Is Run?

I’ll admit that I joined the team having no idea what what a cross-country team does. So imagine my shock when, at the first practice, I realized that all we were going to do was run the hills around “the Castle,” which was the name we used to describe the property surrounding Presentation of Mary Academy, where the Sisters of the Presentation lived.

Born to Sprint… in Short Bursts

As a basketball player, I was trained for short bursts of speed. I was a natural defender. I could almost always get to the net before the offense did. Good luck getting any cross-court passes by me…

Knowing this, when the team took off for our first run, I was confident. Over-confident. I went out hard. The first 60 seconds were easy peasy. It was everything after that, the next 30-40 minutes (I’m not sure. It felt like hours) that were plain and pure torture. Which burned more? My legs or my lungs? It was hard to tell. And I was baffled, truly baffled by how easy the other girls made it all seem.

My First Race

I remember standing at the starting line and looking over the grassy terrain of Notredame high school with the following thoughts bouncing through my mind:

  • So… we’re not running on a track?
  • Where are we? At a school or in the wilderness?
  • How the hell am I supposed to know where to go?
  • If I get lost, who will come find me?

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t SCARE per se. But there WERE a lot of unknowns. All I really knew was that I had to run. So as I heard the shot go off, I RAN.

My First Epic Fail

These are the things I remember about my first race:

  1. I walked about 80% of it.
  2. I got lost. Thankfully, I was going so slow that people on my team and the other time had time to re-run the race and come find me.
  3. The race monitors who were strategically placed to make sure that no one hurts themselves kept asking if I wanted to give up. I can only assume this was because I was wheezing and going very slowly. I declined.
  4. When I did reach the finish line, my coach congratulated me for not giving up!

So I guess it wasn’t a COMPLETE and total failure. Despite hating every moment, I stuck with it. Looking back, I can see that for me, that was an accomplishment. That, and the fact that I stayed on the team for the rest of the year (before jumping ship the following fall for my all time love… volleyball!).

Not a Runner. Someone Who Runs

I’m not sure why, but I’ve tortured myself with many more runs since that day. Although I keep my personal workouts on the lighter side these days, to accommodate for the physical demands of my teaching schedule, I like to participate in races once in a while to get back in the runner’s spirit.

In fact, I’m participating in this year’s Silicon Valley Turkey Trot for the first time in a while! I’m actually trying to see how many people I can recruit to run alongside me. After all, it’s not about being GOOD at running. It’s about challenging ourselves to try something with the support of friends around us.

Click Here If You Want to Run the Turkey Trot in San Jose, CA.

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