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.

Did you like this story? If so, leave a comment below and share this blog with your friends! And please don’t hesitate to share your own cross-country or first run stories too!



Posted in Advice for Fitness Instructors, Confidence

5 Ways to Build Confidence as a Fitness Instructor

Are you nervous about an upcoming class or audition? It’s natural to have pre-class jitters. As a matter of fact, I myself get nervous from time to time, especially when I’m subbing for another instructor or getting in front of a new group of students. What I need one these days is a confidence boost. Here are 5 simple ways to build confidence as a fitness instructor.

Boost Your Confidence and Come Out on Top

The following tidbits will work in a pinch.

  1. Prepare Your Workout in Advance. Anyone whose taught for some time has had the experience of rushing from one class to the next or has been asked to sub at the list minute and enters the room unprepared. Okay, you tell yourself. Today, we’re gonna wing it. This might fly if you’re a seasoned instructor and have a lifetime of templates to call upon. But when you’re brand new, your students will smell the odor of “fly by the seat of your pants” musk surrounding you. All of a sudden, you’re grasping at straws to figure out the next move. I keep a selection of 15 workouts that I cycle through for about a year before I create new ones (you can check them out and snag them if you want to here). It sure makes those 6:00am classes run more smoothly!
  2. Create Tailored Playlists. Music motivates. There may be some students who are content to focus on just the moves, but others want to move to the beat of the music (literally!). Address all of your students’ needs by choosing a selection of music that caters to the tempo of the class. Pro tip: make sure you review it a few times before you bring it to class. Click here to check out the playlists I’ve created on Spotify.
  3. Wear Something You Feel Like a Rockstar In. Looking good is a quick road to feeling good. The right clothes can go a long way in making that happen. That means investing in fitness gear that is functional and flattering as well. Note: Don’t be afraid to be a little, well…. EXTRA. Believe me. Your students will not only appreciate the effort. They’ll also notice your shift in attitude.
  4. Arrive Early to Class. A good rule of thumb is to arrive 15 minutes before start time. You still have to set up the music, make sure there’s a battery in your mic headset, glance over your workout, and welcome students. The last thing you want is to roll up with 5 minutes or less to spare. That will make you feel rushed and appear to your students as unprepared (even if your workout and playlist are ready to go).
  5. Be Yourself. May new instructors struggle to find their teaching personality in the beginning. You’ve probably seen quite a few styles: The peppy cheerleader type, the kick your ass drill sergeant type, the flirtatious, flamboyant dancer type…  the list is endless! It can feel intimidating to see others with strong personalities crushing their classes. But just know that you don’t have to pretend to be anything you’re not. Instead, figure out those innate qualities that draw students to your classes and allow those to stand out.

So tell me… which of these do YOU need to work on more? Tell me in the comments below!

Good luck 🙂


PS – If you want to hear more stories and advice about being a fitness professional, follow me on instagram and Facebook.

Posted in Free Workouts, Full Body Workouts, High Intensity Interval Training, Strength Training, Workout Guides, Workouts

The 15 Full Body Workouts Guidebook Is Here! PDF Included

One thing I hear from students all the time is that they wish they knew what to do on their own on days they don’t come to class. So many people have the motivation to get themselves to the gym, but the challenge is coming up with an efficient, effective routine they can perform. That’s why I decided to put together an e-book!

15 Full Body Workouts

As the title suggests, 15 Full Body Workouts contains 15 workouts designed to tone every single muscle in your body in 50 minutes or less. Each workout is in the oh-so-popular high intensity interval training (HIIT) format, which means you can burn more in this short session that you would completing the same exercises in a rep-based style.

Here’s how the workouts are organized:

  • Suggested Warm-up: Complete this portion on your own for 4-5 minutes before using the template.
  • Core: These exercises engage your abdominals, your glutes, and other stabilizing muscle groups.
  • Sets 1 to 3: Your main block of sets are made up of strength exercises that work larger muscles (with a few exceptions). Many are compound movements, so you work multiple muscles at the same time.
  • Finisher: The name says it all. You’ll get most of your cardio here with a few essential core and strength exercises peppered in.

Each set is run at an interval of 50:10. That’s 50 seconds working and 10 seconds transitioning or resting. The finisher is a five minute AMRAP, which means you have to complete As Many Rounds As Possible in the allotted amount of time.

Why I Created the E-Book

When I teach, I like to write my workouts on the mirror with a dry erase marker, so I can create a smooth and relatively seamless experience during class. At the end, students frequently ask if they can take a picture of the workout, so they can add it to their regular routine. My answer is always “Absolutely!” I’m honored that they enjoy my workouts so much! But I wanted to make it easier for them to access them in an easy-to-read format (rather than my chicken scratch on the mirror…haha). Thus 15 Full Body Workouts was born!

Download the Guidebook

Without further ado, I present to you the guidebook. It’s completely FREE to download, so have at it!

Click Here to Download 15 Full Body Workouts

Note: There may be exercises you don’t recognize. To make it easier for you to use these workouts, I’ll be releasing videos demonstrating one block at a time on the My Life In Fitness YouTube Channel. Happy resistance training!

Your friendly neighborhood fitness instructor,

Nadia 🙂

Did you like these workouts? There’s more great content where that came from! Click here to join the community on Facebook 🙂 Interested in seeing what other cool digital items I’ve created? Check out my portfolio on