I love books that peel back the curtain and let me peek inside the lives of professionals. Nothing makes my ears perk up more than a flight attendant willing to spill all the beans about the flights he works or the White House butler working in the background quietly watching history unfold and sharing those secrets.
In that spirit of sharing, I’d like to confess a few things as a fitness professional.
- I do not make my daily chores an extension of my workout. I do not drop and do 20 pushups during commercials. There is no lunging while I vacuum. If I’m watching Netflix, I’m in comfy sweats and no one is getting me off the couch.
- Some days I hate working out. Some days my only motivation for heading to the gym is the fact that there’s a class full of people relying on me to make their day start right. There is no magic fitness gene that instructors are born with that makes them immune to an occasional lack of motivation.
- I don’t care if you come late or leave early. Just come.
- I don’t care if you take a break from my class to try something new. I get tired of the same routine, too. How will you know what you like until you try it?
- I am not impressed by your level of fitness. I’m impressed by your dedication and motivation. I love that you care enough about yourself to walk through those classroom doors. I applaud the effort it takes to be there.
- I love it when members ask me questions. I really am looking for progress, not perfection. Nothing makes my day better than a member who asks me to help her perfect her bicep curls. Your asking questions shows me how focused and how much desire you have.
- I get intimidated, too. I know how it feels to walk into a class and feel like a 6-foot gorilla in a room full of ballerinas. We all feel like that the first class. The thing is, no one is watching you. They’re watching the instructor. And chances are, as awful as you may think you are performing the moves I’m teaching, I promise you I’ve seen worse!
- Cellphones are my enemy. I feed off your energy. It’s not about the size of the class, but rather the effort of the class that gets me revved up. That said, nothing deflates my enthusiasm faster than members on their phones or having a separate conversation during class. It’s not only disrespectful but very distracting.
- One hour of teaching takes three hours of prep. Of course, with 12 years of teaching under my belt, I can put a class together much faster than when I was a newbie, but making a class look effortless is a lot of hard work. Nothing happens by chance; not the music, the drills, the format, or even the order of the exercises. I put thought into all of it. I encourage members to modify when necessary, but ultimately I want them to trust me for one hour.
- My members are my family — my fitness family. I think about you. I care about you. I want to celebrate your successes. I want to help you over the stumbling blocks. I want my classroom to be a safe place to try new things, set new goals and find parts of ourselves that have been hidden before.
Group fitness instructors are humans. We like donuts and sleeping in. Some days the only workout we want to do is a Netflix marathon. But no matter how tired I am, I will never tire of group fitness.
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, fitness instructor and marathoner. You can follow her running and fitness adventures at www.kiminthegym.com.