Confessions of a fitness professional coming your way! (This post was originally published in June 2015, and it was due for an update. Please enjoy this updated version!)
I love fitness, specifically group fitness. And I love being a fitness professional, because it brings me so much joy. But I also feel the responsibility to be a good fitness professional — to make sure I’m teaching safe workouts, I’m encouraging healthy behaviors and I’m trying to model those myself (if you look around social media, I wouldn’t say all fitness professionals are too worried about that). And part of that responsibility includes keeping it real and telling you like it really is, which is what I plan to do with you today.
But before that, a little background:
I’ve been working in the fitness world for 14 years, as a group fitness instructor for all of it and as a personal trainer for some of it. In my role as a fitness professional, I’ve made some great relationships with people, and that’s truly the best part. Throughout my conversations with participants/members over the last 14 years, I’ve come to realize that oftentimes people on the participant/member side have certain thoughts about the people on the instructor/professional side. So today, let’s set some things straight …
(And of course, I can only speak for myself and share my own confessions, so please take these with a grain of salt.)
Confessions of a fitness professional
Let’s get to the confessions of a fitness professional …
Yes, every once in a while, there are days when I don’t feel like working out or going to the gym at all. And occasionally, I find it hard to get motivated.
This is real talk, friend. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to get going. In fact, every once in a while, if I didn’t have to teach a class that required me to demonstrate and perform the moves, I probably wouldn’t do anything that day. There are times when it takes everything in me to suit up in my sneakers, prepare my music and workout notes and head to the gym — when I’d rather be snuggling with Rudy and watching reality TV (although as a working mom, I hardly ever get to make that decision, but you know what I mean).
On those days, when I finally get to the gym, I sit in my car until the very last minute, go inside and all of a sudden put on my “game face” once I’ve entered the four walls. Even though I may be feeling lethargic and un-enthused, you’ll be none the wiser. You’ll never know it, because I’m a professional, and I try to treat every single class like it’s going to be my last and put forth all of my effort into making it good for you. But no — it’s not easy for me to stay motivated all the time.
Once a week, I’ve been trying to fit in my own solo weights workout outside of the classes I teach, and that is the hardest one to get motivated for. I move slowly at first, I fiddle in my bag before I get started, I spend way too much time looking for the right podcast to listen to. But you know what happens? Once I get those first few reps in, everything starts to flow. And I hope it feels like that for the people who come to my classes too. But I get it, it’s sometimes tough to get that initial motivation.
Yes, it’s hard to show up all the time and be pumped, but once you get moving, you’re always glad you’re doing it. If sometimes you can’t quite muster the motivation, just get there, and let the power of group fitness take over for you.
Please don’t be self-conscious around me or try to hide from me in class, because I’ve seen it all, and I’m there to help.
You don’t need to “get in shape” to come to my class. Come as you are!
I never judge the people who come to my classes, and I’m not even slightly phased by how you perform the moves I’m trying to get you to do. I will try to help you and correct you as best as I can, but you may not understand me no matter how hard I try. It’s okay. I know you’re doing your best, and I love you for it. But yes, I see your version of the move I’m requesting. And you’re not even close to the worst I’ve seen, so just keep moving. (This is a funny generalization, but yes — here and there, some people do some silly stuff, and it’s fine. Although I will say, on a whole, my current participants at Life Time are mostly quite savvy.)
I often talk to people who are scared to come to classes and they stand in the back and literally hide their bodies behind someone else so I can’t see what they’re doing. But please, don’t hide from me. I’m absolutely not judging you, if I look at you, I’m going to smile at you to encourage you, or I may give a loose public suggestion to correct some form — hoping you’ll hear that request. If you don’t, it’s okay. I don’t think anything of it. I’ll just try again in a different way sometime soon.
I wish more participants/members knew that fitness professionals aren’t expecting them to be perfect — not at all. We want to see them show up and put in effort, and we’ll be there to offer some help to assist them in getting better. That’s what we’re there for.
Never be shy, and never feel judged — not by me nor by your surrounding participants — because they aren’t judging you either. Promise. Let us see you working, because the only way we can help you, is if we see you!
I sometimes eat junk food, I sometimes drink alcoholic beverages. And even, every once in a while, (gasp), I’m hungover.
There have been a couple times that I’ve been teaching a group fitness class and felt like I smelled Sauvignon Blanc seeping out of my sweat glands. And that’s the truth. And from talking to other fitness peeps, I know full well I’m not alone.
Even though I work out a ton and lead a healthy lifestyle, I don’t say no to nearly any type of food, and yes, I will throw back some wine on the weekends (or a Thursday night as needed here and there) — all in the name of balance. I don’t expect you to be 100 percent strict with your diet all the time, and I also don’t expect you to be feeling in tip-top shape when you show up to class all the time either.
There are so many times when people have confessed to me that they had something bad to eat the night before, so embarrassed, because they think I would never do that. In my Monday class, I often hear “I was so bad this weekend.” And hey friend, no shame in a little splurging here and there. Don’t let it derail you, don’t let it embarrass you, don’t try to work it off. Just enjoy it and move right on back to your healthy habits. You don’t even need to call it “being bad” — it’s just life.
And by the way, if you see me out-and-about in public and have some fast-food in your hand or junk in your grocery cart, I won’t be mad at you. You don’t have to hide it. We’re all human. I’d be more worried about you and your lifestyle if you’re on some super-restricting diet full of extreme measures.
Live your life and choose healthy stuff most of the time — but not all of the time — because that’s no fun. And even as a group fitness instructor, I’m always about that balance.
I don’t understand why you don’t like group fitness.
No, I don’t. I do understand that many people like to do their own thing in the gym most of the time or work out at home or run on their own, but I’m not sure I truly get why you don’t ever want to try a class with me.
Yes, I also like to do my own workouts to focus on my specific goals (which I do once a week), but I’d always rather be doing a sweat session with a bunch of other people with loud music and good energy pumping me up and fueling me.
And when you say that group fitness or classes are just “not for you,” you better have experienced enough classes to be sure that you feel that way. I will still be your friend and respect you, but deep down, I’m always wondering if I could convert you into a group-fitness-lover if only you would come to my class.
Don’t swear off classes unless you’ve tried them. Yes, I think we should all be following a loose structure for which workouts we do each week, and if you’re all about your own thing — good for you. But don’t ever hate on group fitness unless you’ve given it a fair chance. Sometimes, it’s magic, and you’re missing out on that if you never go into the studio.
A few other confessions of a fitness professional
You may also want to know the following confessions of a fitness professional …
- Attendance: I don’t care if you show up late or leave early, as long as you come. But if you leave early, please don’t be disruptive by carrying all your equipment over the heads of people working on the floor at the end of class to put it away — that is not safe and you shouldn’t do it. Try your best to make it to the end of class, and if you can’t — safely carry your stuff around the perimeter of the room, not over the heads of others. I also like you to let me know if you’re leaving early, so I can expect it.
- Guests: I love it when you bring your friends along with you. Always introduce me to them before class or after class so I can say hi.
- Decency: And for some locker-room etiquette: If you’re going to do your hair in the mirror in the locker room, why not put on a bra? I know you’re hot, but I wish people would be even an ounce more discreet sometimes. Need to organize your gym bag? Maybe don’t do that bent over with no pants on … you know? But even if that’s your choice, just know that when you chat with me in that state, I’ll keep my eyes on your face.
- Sweat: However, in the group fitness studio, I’m not even slightly grossed out by your sweat or grunting, in fact, I applaud it. Have you seen how much I sweat? The more, the merrier.
- Breaks: Feeling tired and need a quick water break? Not a problem. Hydrate, regroup and hop back in. I get it. There’s no shame in listening to your body when you need a minute.
- Nerves: Scared to attend my class? That’s totally normal. I feel a tinge of nerves before a tough workout too, but the high you’ll feel afterwards should make it worth it.
- Absences: Going on a vacation or planning to take a break from the gym? If you’re a regular participant and I’m used to seeing you, I want you to tell me where you will be or where you were when you come back, just so I can be aware and welcome you when you return.
- Feedback: Have feedback? Give it to me! But be kind. I’ve only encountered a couple haters in my day. Also, I love it when you tell me moves you like to see in class, because it’s helpful to get some ideas from you.
- I’m so grateful you are in my class, and I see you out there showing up! You make me love my job. And I know there are plenty of other things you could be doing, so I’m happy you made the choice to show up in my workout. Please know your presence is always appreciated and noticed.
Seriously though, I credit group fitness for changing my life, and I’ll continue devoting my time and efforts to getting people moving and sweating, so they can lead better lives. And yes, I was once a participant flailing my arms in the air in the back of a class as well … and look at me now! 🙂
Thank you for reading my confessions of a fitness professional, friend. Be well and stay moving. And come say hi over on Instagram too.
Other posts you may like
- The two best foam rolling moves I do every day to make my back feel good
- Five common fitness mistakes I see people making
- What I’ve learned from teaching group fitness for 12 years
- Fitness corner: Should you eat before your workout?
Questions of the day for you
Do you have a confession to share about your job?
What’s something funny that you notice each day doing what you do?
Are you a group fitness lover or do you like to do your own thing?