I love taking fitness classes. You name it and I’ve either tried it, or taught it,…or done both! One of the reasons I decided to become a GROUP fitness instructor, way back in 1992, was because I came to the conclusion that I could be a much better instructor than most of the instructors that were teaching the classes I was taking. That wasn’t just my massive ego talking, though that bitch can make an uninvited appearance at so many events…..I really and truly knew that I could be better than a lot of the instructors whose classes I was regularly attending. I was fed up with instructors who were ignoring the participants in their class.
I was frustrated at how I would be doing an exercise, knew I was doing something wrong, yet the instructor was giving inadequate verbal cues or would not come around and do manual adjustments.
I was annoyed at instructors who would come in late to class, COFFEE in hand, hair flying everywhere and looking like last weeks lunch.
I was exasperated with instructors who would not introduce themselves, let alone the type and level of class they were teaching, just assuming that everyone that had shown up were capable of doing what she was about to teach. I was irritated with instructors who decided that this was THEIR workout as well.
Finally, I was super duper vexed with instructors who just did not KNOW things.
For example, after about three months of taking Step Classes I had decided that perhaps it was time for me to progress to two risers instead of one, but I had no idea if this was a good idea or not. I asked my instructor and her response? “Ya..I guess you could if you wanted to”. Not the insightful and fact filled answer I was looking for. Honestly, you don’t have to be a member of Mensa to be an instructor, but for the love of all that is holy, at least PRETEND to have an interest in the fitness progression of a consistent participant! By the way, the answer to the question I had asked that obviously bored and disinterested instructor is that riser level has more to do with your height than your progressive fitness level, but I digress AND show off my knowledge……
I’m the sort of person that always ends up in a leadership role.
It might be the oldest child syndrome. It could be blamed on my work ethic. It might be caused by my deep-seated need to be in control of EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE, which was one of the reasons I was so pissed off at getting cancer. It turns out that you cannot control rapidly dividing and out of control cells. Oh geeezzz, losing the thread again………..
My first real job out of school was as a hostess at our local Pizza Hut. Within a month I had been promoted to a waitress. Within six months I was the Assistant Manager, by the end of the year I was the Manager. I was only 20. My first real adult job was at the now defunct department store: Simpsons. I started out by being the Head Line Girl for Elizabeth Arden. In a few short years I was running the largest cosmetic department in Canada in downtown Toronto. Just before I decided to take a jump into the fitness lake, I was working at a division of Xerox Financial. I started out as a receptionist and finished as the Operational Accounting Assistant. I would like to point out that I have absolutely NO accounting background. I was super awesome, though! To all of you reading this, it must be painfully obvious that I have a need to be in charge.
It wasn’t much of a leap for me, then, to come to the conclusion that with the proper education, I could be, potentially, heaps better than the instructors I had met at my local gym. So, off I went and got myself certified. I started teaching almost immediately but, true to form, within six months of commencing teaching, I was running the fitness program at a rather large gym franchise. Unfortunately the guy who owned that franchise was a criminal. For realsies!! I did not know that when I was hired, but bailed quite quickly when it became apparent that he was defrauding his customers, not paying his employees AND sexually harassing his female staff members. He was, what you would call, a triple threat plonker.
I went back to teaching classes and ended up moving to Calgary where I once again started out as an instructor, but in less than a year, I was running the Group Fitness Program for a large chain of fitness clubs. With the owners help, complete backing and unswerving support, I was able to radically change the group fitness program and all of a sudden we were making heads turn with all the amazing talent I had been able to hire to teach the best classes in the city. My team of instructors were the BEST!! I can guarantee you that not one of them would have ever answered a question from a participant in their class with a “Ya..I guess you could if you wanted to” remark.
From Calgary it was on to San Francisco, then a brief stay with my sister in New York state, to Cincinnati, back to Canada and then Raleigh, North Carolina and back to Canada where I currently am. A lot of changes but one thing stayed constant. I’ve always maintained my certifications and I’ve always taught, coached or trained. In places where I wasn’t allowed to work, I volunteered or I just helped out friends for free. Helping someone realize their physical goals but then see how that effects them mentally and emotionally never gets old for me. When someone tells me that they can’t, and I am able to
yell at them tell them that they absolutely can, it creates a dynamic that is hard to explain. There is a shift from me believing in them to seeing that THEY believe in themselves! It’s bloody brilliant!!!
There are so many people that simply don’t understand the connection between body, mind and spirit. It’s a shame, really. When you finally realize that link, it can make it so much easier to stick to an eating plan, stick to a workout plan and stick to an educational plan. When you see payoffs in one area, it can certainly lead you to become much more keen to pursue all the other areas. In fact, for a lot of people I have worked with, this has just happened organically without me having to point it out. I worked with one unforgettable woman who had just gone back to school to get her degree in business management. Her grades were lackluster at best and while not obese by any means, her BMI was high. After six weeks of consistent workouts (which included running) her BMI had fallen dramatically AND her grades had improved! How about them apples? Body/Mind/Spirit baby!
I will leave you with one final story. It happened on my farewell tour of the Calgary clubs before handing over the reins to an extremely talented woman I had hired from England. (Errrrmmmmmmm….I’m from England as well. Coincidence or conspiracy?)
Anyway….I was touring the clubs to say goodbye to staff and members and as I was leaving our Canyon Meadows location a member approached me and asked if she might have a word. I did not know who she was, but of course I said yes. She wanted to thank me for all my inspirational words, fabulous classes and positive motivation. She told me she had made it a point to come out to each of my classes when she could and she would miss me tremendously. However, she had grown so much and become so much more confident of her abilities that she was eager to try other instructors classes and she wanted to make sure I knew that she was going to stick to her fitness goals. I was gobsmacked. I knew a vast majority of the members. I had to for my job. I simply did not recognize this woman at all, though, which made me feel dreadful. I admitted as much to her and asked why she had never introduced herself to me if she had come to many of my classes. (I have to insert here that to be fair to me, my classes had anywhere from 50 to 100 people in them. I just could not “see” everyone) She simply said that while she wanted to on many occasions, she just did not feel bold enough to just walk up to me and tell me. When she found out that I was leaving, it made her want to speak up and go against her shy nature to tell me that she was a changed person. We were both by the bench provided by the club to sit down on to remove outside shoes and to put on inside shoes, so I sat down and gestured for her to do the same. I hugged her. I was overwhelmed with emotion, which is (if you know me) unusual. I told her that I would forever remember her and her words because THIS, this was my WHY. My why for being a fitness professional. So, this is why I yam what I yam…that is the payoff for me. Everyone needs a payoff in life in order to stay engaged, focused and happy. What is your payoff? Why do you do what you do? What is it that makes YOU happy? I’d love to hear all about it.
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another excellent piece Gail, love the stories & insight into your past. huge hugs my friend
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Thanks Linda. You’re one of my biggest supporters. Love and hugs back to you!
Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!
… And (just sayin) some of your peeps may never see you face-to-face yet you’ve managed to change their lives with words, wisdom, and wit. Keep on keeping on!!!
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