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 🙂

Nadia

Advertisements
Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Class Engagement, Confidence, Dealing with Students, Gaining Experience, Subbing Classes

Embarrassing Moments in Group Fitness: My First Walkout

As I entered into my career as a group fitness instructor, I was blissfully unaware of all of the things that might go wrong while teaching, especially while subbing another instructor’s class. That’s why I feel compelled to share with you one of my most embarrassing moments in group fitness: my first walkout.

The Setup

I was asked by a colleague of mine to sub a group strength and cardio class that met right before my regular dance fitness session. Since I was already teaching indoor bootcamps at Method3 Fitness (then Fast Action Training), I knew it would be a piece of cake!

I planned a workout I just knew would be challenging and fun! Then I showed up ready to deliver.

Enter Antagonist: The Disgruntled Regular

Most of the class was super friendly and grateful to be met with something different (as opposed to a class cancellation). But there was one woman whom I noticed was struggling with workload. She moved slowly from one exercise to the next and I can only describe her form during the moves as a personal trainer’s nightmare.

Just know that I’m not trying to belittle her. I was truly worried that she would injure herself! So I happily approached her for form corrections and suggested modifications. She was not impressed, but rather, she ignored me and continued to do her thing.

The Tipping Point

As we moved into the next block of exercises, I gave the class a break while I demonstrated the next set of moves. As the other students watched intently, I heard a gasp from far right side of the room “UGH!”

EVERYONE turned to look. The woman shook her head and as I continued to demonstrate, she began to pick up her equipment and put it away… one piece at a time. First her mat. Then her weights. Then the bench.

Important side note: She had chosen a spot on the right side of the room, in the front. The equipment was on the left, in the back. So she walked past the group about 6 times 😐 😅 😮

My Reaction

Truth be told, I was shocked at her blatant disruption of class. At the same time, as an older woman who had probably been attending the class regularly for years, I could see that it was just her frustration boiling over. So…

  • As she put away her equipment, I went on teaching as if there were no disruptions (despite the eyes of several students following her)
  • When she finally made her way toward the door to leave, I smiled, waved, and said “Thank you so much for coming!”
  • At the end of class, I apologized to the remaining students on her behalf. They expressed that although it was different than they were used to, they really enjoyed the class.

My guidance compass: Be kind. Be confident. Be professional.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Take Things Personally

My first walkout taught me quite a bit about having a career in group fitness:

  1. Different students like different formats. Just because a student doesn’t like your class, it doesn’t mean it isn’t great. It just means it’s not for them.
  2. It’s not about me. How a student reacts on any given day is a reflection of their attitude and emotional state. A daily workout may be the only opportunity someone has to feel great in their day. Some people are really bad with change.
  3. It will likely happen again, because subbing is tough!

You never know what you’re going to get when you get hired for a new class or sub someone else’s. There’s always an adjustment. As long as you know that you brought your best stuff and worked hard to keep the class engaged, you’ve done your due diligence.

Did you find this piece funny? Helpful? Scary? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re an instructor who has had an experience like this, share that too! We can commiserate together 😉

Till next time,

Nadia

Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Gaining Experience, Get Hired as a Group Fitness Instructor, How to Become a Fitness Instructor

How to Gain Experience As a Group Fitness Instructor

As you have probably experienced at one point in your lifetime, one of the biggest issues for professionals entering any new field is that of experience. In group fitness, many gyms won’t even consider you as a candidate if you have been teaching for less than a year, let alone freshly certified with no classes under your belt. There IS hope though. Here’s how you can gain the experience you need to land a job as a group fitness instructor.

Organize a free class

A great way to start practicing your skills, build confidence as an instructor, and gain momentum in your teaching career is to teach free classes. There are several ways to host:

  • Start your own group through an event meetup site or offer to host on an existing group.
  • Host your own parties or gatherings with friends.
  • Put your name on the list of available instructors at a fitness clothing store (such as Lululemon or Athleta)

Just remember to protect yourself by obtaining liability insurance and collecting waivers from all participants.

Offer to Sub Classes

Subbing classes is my #1 Tip for getting hired as a fitness instructor at a studio or fitness facility. Hiring managers need too know that you are

  1. Skilled in your designated format
  2. Trustworthy, meaning that you show up when you say you will and are available when needed most.

Once they see that you are a great addition to the team at their studio, they will search for ways to get you a class on the schedule.

Post Videos on Social Channels

Having content on a social channel is a great way for companies to know that you are passionate about what you do and in it for the long haul. In fact, many applications ask for social media accounts, so they can check out your personality and style. I say, if you can carve out the time:

  • Film at least video per week displaying you working out/practicing. Teaching videos are best for the obvious benefit of showcasing your expertise, but any film of you performing in your designated format will work.
  • Post the videos across as many channels as possible. Instagram is one of the most popular right now (in 2019), but Facebook TV and YouTube are strong platforms as well. Plus, with YouTube (or Vimeo), you can embed videos onto your website.

If you’re serious about a career in fitness, make it your mission gain as much experience in the first year as possible. It will not only make you a better instructor, but it will give you the opportunity to gain a solid base of references you can lean on when the time comes to obtain a job.

The Magic Year Mark

Take it from someone who has been there, once you hit that magical 1 year experience mark, the % of callbacks will skyrocket. You just have to get over that hump.

What are you doing to gain experience now? Share your thoughts and any questions in the comments below!

And good luck 😉

Nadia