I’ve been teaching fitness officially since 2010. I’d been taking Zumba classes from the time I was about 16 until 20 or so, and the entire time, had been really curious about what it would take, and what it meant to teach. I somehow got the balls to hunt around, and contacted the woman at NC State, the graduate school where I was attending, my first semester there, and asked if she was interested in a Zumba instructor. The next thing I knew, I was teaching to a staff at a staff meeting, and without realizing it, my future husband may have been in that meeting.
But Lindsay, who managed us, took a chance on me, and after a short 20-minute demo, she allowed me to get onto the spring schedule one day a week. And the response was absolutely overwhelming. I regularly had over 100 students in the class, and as my class gained traction, I began to look forward to my time on Sundays with the students.
One thing I remembered, and one thing that I took with me in my time taking classes with Koh Herlong, who apparently was a Zumba superstar and we never knew it, left her ego at the door when it came to class. She worked the room, starting from the front, and dancing in the crowd, dancing with students, and pointing out a nice booty shake or a great-looking bicep when she saw it. The class wasn’t about her, it was about us. And we left the room feeling that way each and every time we took the class.
Fitness instructors, your class is not about you.
I’ve certainly fallen into the trap before. When a student wants to take a pic with me or when I’ve seen myself talked about in a review of some place I’ve worked, I’ve wanted to dust myself off. And when I do, I remember that there’s always an instructor who’s better than I am, and that being a decent teacher doesn’t mean shit if I have a bad attitude, or think I’m here for folks to be amazed by me. There’s nothing amazing about what I do. I just love to do it.
That said, here are a few reminders for fitness instructors who are starting to feel their heads get a little bigger with each time they catch the eye of someone in their class.
- The workout doesn’t belong to you. It’s theirs [your students]. My mom has often asked me why I work out when I teach so many classes, and simply it’s because the energy you devote you your workouts and and workouts you provide to your students is and should be different. In your classes your focused on the safety, the comfort, and the fun that your students are having, not your own.
- But don’t give too much…everything needs a little balance. Don’t give so much that you’re hurt or that you hurt the people in your class. Balance is key.
- Open your eyes! Are you stuck in the mirror? This is a terrible habit, and a huge pet peeve of mine. Look around your class. Face your class. Look into people’s eyes! If you find yourself “stuck in the mirror,” as an old tap teacher of mine would say, you’re doing it wrong. Your class can sense when you’re looking at them, and when you’re checking out your own biceps. And having an egotistical maniac for an instructor doesn’t do much for people.
- Make ’em feel good. Folks got in their cars and drove over, not for you to tell jokes, right? Thank folks for coming. Introduce yourself. Point out good work! Shout encouragement. Whisper adjustments.
What’s the best/your favorite fitness class you’ve EVER taken?