From gym member to launching three Les Mills programs

I can still remember the day I was taking BODYPUMP class after work in Orlando, and the instructor told me I should go to training to teach the class myself.  I was floored.  I had always been a gym member, never a gym leader.  I was just a regular old worker-outer.  Nothing more.

Why would I want to become a group fitness instructor?  Money?  No.  Prestige?  No.  Extra time on my hands to kill?  No.  The chance to help people have fun and enjoy their work-out?  Perhaps so.

It took some convincing on her part (thanks Teri, my inspiration), but a few months later I signed up for initial training to become a Les Mills BODYPUMP instructor in 2009, and the rest is history.

Today, just about four years later, I’m working on certification for my third Les Mills program.  I’m no longer just a gym member, I’m an instructor, who makes teaching group fitness a big part of my life.

New teaching schedule

Starting this week, I will be teaching five classes a week around a few San Francisco gyms.  I have three BODYPUMP classes and two BODYATTACK classes and will continue to substitute CXWORX on occasion.  While this does not constitute a full-time job, nor full-time salary, it does require a lot of time and attention on my part.

When you are just a gym member, you don’t realize that group fitness instructors have spent a lot of time preparing for each class before you show up.  Whether it’s charging their iPod, learning choreography, maintaining a valid CPR certification, perfecting the moves or going over the required teaching tips for each major muscle group or exercise, a lot goes into standing in front of a class.

Les Mills launch week

At times, it’s a burden.  This week is the official re-launch at 24 Hour Fitness gyms in Northern California, which means we debut the latest Les Mills programs releases in each and every class.  Re-launch, or launch, happens every single quarter after Les Mills International in New Zealand distributes the latest music and moves to instructors around the world in 80 countries.

When I lived in Orlando, I only had to learn one new release, but now I have to learn three, which is a lot at one time.  I’ve spent a good portion of the past couple of weeks staring at music notes, watching DVDs and practicing in my living room. (Which can get difficult when you live in a little apartment in San Francisco like me.)

The longer you’ve been an instructor, the quicker you’re able to memorize new choreography.  One day, I will share some tips on how I do that now.  But suffice to say, no matter how advanced you are, Les Mills group fitness instructors are always a little loaded down before launch week.

On Saturday, I team taught my very first BODYATTACK class ever at 24 Hour Fitness Marathon Plaza.  It was incredible.  I was huffing, puffing, panting, sweating up a storm, and it was so fun.  I had been nervous all week, but the second the music started and my mic went live, it all came together for the re-launch of BODYATTACK 82.  I have a lot of work to do to become a better BODYATTACK teacher (note my thoughts from initial training), but I’m glad I have my first real class under my belt.  This particular class is totally new to the 24 Hour Fitness Marathon Plaza schedule, so I will have to do some heavy promotion to fill it up each week.

Yesterday, I taught the latest BODYPUMP 87 release in my regular Monday afternoon class at 24 Hour Fitness Sutter-Montgomery for the first time, and it was great too.  Although I had some microphone difficulties, I could tell the class enjoyed the new music and new moves.

When I moved to San Francisco exactly one year ago, I wasn’t sure if my future in this city included teaching group fitness.  After a visit to the Les Mills West Coast office my second day here, little by little things fell into place, and now I’m more into it than ever before.

Yes, I get paid to work out.  Yes, I get free memberships to a bunch of gyms around town.  And yes, at times, I get a little stressed preparing for classes.  But it’s one of the most rewarding hobbies in the world.

I’m definitely no longer just a regular old worker-outer.

Two sweaty instructors after teaching BODYATTACK.
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