Happy Thursday, friends!
This might come off as ranting or just pure word vomit… but I just need to get a few things out there. I’ll try to do it as nicely as possible. I’ve been dealing with some of the feelings and issues that come along with starting over in a job. When I moved from MD to CO, I went from being at the top of my game, well-known, respected and liked to being a newbie, a no one, a stranger. I’m talking about my job as a group exercise instructor.
As you probably know, I’m a certified Spinning and Bodypump instructor. I’ve been teaching indoor cycling for almost five years now and Bodypump for the last two (I actually got that certification shortly after starting this blog!). Prior getting my Spinning instructor certification, I had been a member of the same gym (Fitness First in Frederick, MD- which has since been bought by Gold’s) for five years. I knew a lot of the members and instructors and felt really comfortable there. Some of my closest friends were women that I met from taking classes and the gym was really my second home.
When I started really considering getting my certification to teach indoor cycling, I contacted the gym’s group exercise coordinator (GEC) to see if there were any opportunities to teach classes. She told me that there was definitely a possibility and to get back in touch after I completely my Spinning training. I did, and then was scheduled by the GEC to set up an audition. I remember that audition well- I walked into a packed room a few minutes before the 6:00 am class started and was scared sh*tless. I had to teach a 45 minute class and had the entire thing pretty much scripted out on a piece of paper next to me. I began with a warm-up and then began to settle in. The class knew that I was auditioning and they were all super nice and encouraging and gave positive feedback.
I feel a little bit like a tool posting selfies, but they’re the only photos that I have that really go along with the post.
Shortly after that, I was offered two classes: one on Friday mornings at 5:15 am and another every other Saturday at 10:00 am (I shared with another instructor). I was lucky with timing because the Friday instructor had just moved away and the Saturday instructor wanted to have every other week off so that she could ride outdoors more.
Over the next few years my schedule changed a bit. I dropped the Saturday class, picked up a Sunday morning (weekly) class and switched from teaching Fridays to Tuesdays at 5:30 am. In the fall of 2011, I went through Bodypump instructor training. I was able to teach classes after becoming certified, but there weren’t any available right away. Then a big opportunity opened up: Fitness First bought a second location in Frederick and all of the sudden I had THREE Bodypump classes to teach (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and THREE more cycle classes (Monday, Wednesday and Friday!). That ended up being way too many cycle classes (5 a week?!) so I dropped the Wednesday and Friday classes and stuck with Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for cycle and Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Bodypump. I also picked up a Core Strength class on Tuesday mornings right after cycle- it was one of my favorite classes to teach each week!
I kept that same schedule for about a year and then moved here to Colorado. I am super happy living here and don’t have the desire to move back to the east coast. But, there are a few things that I really miss about Maryland. Obviously, having my family and friends close by is number one. After that, the thing that I definitely miss the most is my gym family. I was a member and that gym for ten years (and taught there for four and a half of those ten years!) and felt more comfortable there than almost anywhere else. No matter what time I went to the gym, I’d see friendly faces of people that I knew and was greeted with warm smiles and hugs. I didn’t realize how much I would miss that when I moved away.
Shortly after moving here last spring, I began to search for jobs teaching Spinning and Bodypump. I didn’t have the desire to teach anywhere near the amount of classes that I had been teaching before because I wanted to create a lot more variety in my own workouts (yes, I get a heck of a workout when I teach!). I decided that just teaching one class of each (two max) indoor cycling Bodypump would be enough. I applied at a few different gyms, but no one was hiring. And then finally, in late July, I got an audition at a national club. I was hired for as an instructor for both classes, but there weren’t openings for either one. The most I could do was sub for any instructor that needed someone to teach a class. Then, a Spinning instructor left for medical reasons, which opened up her 9:00 classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It wasn’t really the ideal time that I’d prefer to teach (I like early morning) but I figured I’d take what I could get.
I’ve been teaching indoor cycling for over two months now… and I have some mixed feelings. While I love teaching, it just isn’t the same. Having enthusiastic people in the class and people that know and appreciate you really helps. During my first class, I put together my best playlist, kept my energy high and let my passion shine. One girl texted on her phone the entire time, two people had headphones on and at least two others that just completely did their own thing the whole time. No one smiled. No one said “thanks for a great class” after. No one welcomed me.
I started to doubt myself. I know that I’m a great instructor. I don’t intend for that to sound arrogant- because I’ve worked my butt off to become great. I didn’t start out that way, but I’ve improved a lot over the years because I’ve put in the work. And I know that I will always have room for improvement. Teaching is my passion and I think that it’s pretty obvious that I love what I do. But, I let these people in my cycling classes get to me.
The second class was better. I got a few smiles and even a compliment at the end. And since then, it hasn’t really improved that much. There are definitely a few friendly members that I’ll chat with before and after each class, but there’s definitely a few other people that are just… rude. I constantly hear how great the other instructor was and how much they miss her (she taught there for 7 years!). I know that having an instructor that you really love leave is tough- I totally get that. But man, maybe save that conversation for when I’m not around! All I can really do is keep teaching my best and do what I do- because I know that my fitness family in Maryland loved coming to class. Hopefully the folks here will warm up to me soon.
On Tuesday, I subbed a Bodypump class for the first time. I taught at a different branch of the club that was down in Denver (my home gym is in Broomfield). This was my first time teaching Pump since I moved- which is crazy! When I walked into the exercise studio there were a few members setting up their equipment. They were all very friendly and welcoming, and I was relieved! The class went great. I felt SO good and confident and full of energy- but it was a little bittersweet. Teaching made me realize just how much I miss Bodypump and how much I want my own class again. Hopefully something will open up soon… until then I’ll just wait patiently.
Teaching indoor cycling and teaching Bodypump are very different. You can teach indoor cycling a million different ways and people can be very particular about what they do and do not like. There are rights and wrongs, but there’s much more wiggle room. For my own style, I like to make it as close to a real “ride” as possible. I do a lot of climbing, some speed work and really challenge people as much as possible. I don’t do a lot of “fun” stuff and “tricks” and things that you wouldn’t do if you were riding out on the road. But, I keep a smile, make it upbeat and add a lot of variety so people don’t get bored. That style might not be for everyone, but it’s what I’ve found to be effective and it’s what I’ve evolved into over the years.
For Bodypump, there is a very clear right or a wrong way. You learn the choreography, teach it to the class, focus on form, coaching and cueing and you nail it. The only way to really be a “bad” Bodypump instructor is to be boring (or some other personality flaw), constantly mess up choreography and coaching or something along those lines. Bodypump is the same anywhere you go, and you’re going to get a consistent workout. I like teaching both classes because they are so different in every way.
So that’s it for my rambling today. Thanks for reading through all of this!
Have you had a favorite exercise instructor leave? What makes an instructor “great?”