Today I worked out on my own at home. My schedule just wouldn’t permit getting to a class today. I do it, but it’s really not my favorite way to work out. I’m much more a fan of group exercise.
I’ve been a fitness instructor for almost twenty-five years. As much as I love teaching, I also love being a student in class. Having been on both sides, I really appreciate what it takes to be a quality instructor and I truly value class with a true pro.
Let’s face it, we all have our favorites. You know that instructor whose class you will feign leaving work early for a dental cleaning just so you won’t have to miss her class.
I’ve not only spent decades teaching and taking fitness classes, but managing and mentoring instructors as well. Though instructor styles and strengths are varied and unique, there are some consistent patterns that pack the room and keep us coming back.
You make us feel like champions. When my yoga teacher said “very strong triangle pose, Kristen” the other day, I must admit I felt a little smug. Just like those elusive gold stars doled out in pre-K, no matter how much we fancy ourselves as bright confident women, positive reinforcement still makes our spirits soar at any age.
You tell us something we don’t already know. We could have easily stayed home and popped in that old DVD, but we’d miss out on those gems of information you share at every class. ‘A quarter of the bones of our body are in our feet?’ Really? We may not weave it into our next cocktail party conversation, but over time we learn from you.
You bring out a bit of the green-eyed monster. When we see you holding those Barre poses without shaking, we covet your strong biceps, toned abs…fill in the blank. Though we try to avoid comparison and embrace our bodies (even while in brightly lit dressing rooms trying on bathing suits), you challenge us to work harder. After all, it isn’t called a workout for nothing!
You give helpful, positive visuals. You never let on that our funky rib pops at Jazzercise might be mistaken for a seizure. Instead we are gliding across the Dancing with the Stars ballroom mastering challenging choreography effortlessly. Whether it’s squeezing our shoulder blades together in a bent over row as if a cool refreshing ice cube is sliding down our backs, or grabbing our feet emulating a happy baby (versus a dead bug), your imagery help us fine tune our technique and build our confidence.
You create an atmosphere of joy. As soon as we walk in the room, even if it’s our first time, we instantly know that you’re in charge. There’s not only an air of leadership and professionalism about you (not to mention that super cute top that you’re wearing), but you exude joy. We know we’re in for a great workout, and probably some laughs too. We can feel your passion for what you do and your happiness to be doing it (perhaps from all those endorphins you’re conjured up over the years) and we want to leave with some of that too.
There are a lot moving parts to teaching a class that’s fun, effective and motivating, and we appreciate those who do it well and make it look effortless. We know you’ll keep us healthy and strong, and we’ll keep showing up to your class.
Thanks to all of MY favorite instructors out there for keeping me on the path!