A group fitness instructor in the making

I’ve just recently embarked on my journey to becoming a group fitness instructor and to be honest, there have been moments since I first made that decision when I just wanted to quit and write the whole thing off as a “nice try”. Yesterday was one of those days. Thankfully though, I am not a quitter by nature – although, I sure think about it often enough – and will keep going.

But let’s start at the beginning…

After years of participating in different group fitness classes, at some point the idea of graduating from “simple participant” to instructor and possibly teaching classes myself crossed my mind. 3 months ago I finally decided to give it a go and signed up for a 2-day intensive course to become a Les Mills BODYCOMBAT- instructor – my all-time favorite group fitness class EVER!

I walked into that course a bit apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. I don’t have a background in sports education or anything related. All I had to offer, is my passion for BODYCOMBAT and my “experience” as a loyal participant in classes. I also remember feeling a bit self-conscious at the prospect of possibly being “too old” to become a fitness instructor at 34. Turns out, I was the youngest one there and nobody had a fitness background either. My initial fears were completely unfounded. All you need to get started is passion and dedication to teach and motivate people in becoming fitter and to successfully guide them through a class.

With Les Mills it’s easier in that the classes are per-choreographed and as a instructor you don’t have to come up with a routine of your own. However, learning 10 tracks by heart is no piece of cake and there is little space for improvisation. You have to stick to the outlined program.

What followed were 2 insanely intense days of sweating, puffing and learning all there is to know about cueing, connecting and creating that so called fitness magic. I met some really cool people too, who share the same passion for group fitness and BODYCOMBAT as I do. From that point of view it was totally worth it.

So far so good. With the course successfully behind me, I am now at the next stage of my journey, trying to gain as much experience as I can in teaching in front of a group of people. Thankfully, my instructor took me under her wing and offered me the opportunity to team-teach with her every Tuesday. For the past three Tuesdays I have been standing in front of the class I usually attend as a participant, presenting three tracks.

My experience so far? Well, turns out it’s way more difficult than I had anticipated. Practicing at home is one thing – actually teaching in front of a group of people a completely different one.

Yesterday was the third time for me, presenting tracks number 6 -9 and despite myself, I still messed up a couple of cues and counts. Although I know the choreography by heart, I still have trouble with the timing and tend to either start a move too early or too late. It’s a matter of seconds and I am not even entirely sure the participants notice, but being the perfectionist that I am, I can’t help but feel disappointed in my performance. It’s frustrating really, because I have the whole choreography  down perfectly when practicing at home. Once I am standing on that stage in front of the class however, it’s like my nerves take over and I mess up. Even if it’s minor mistakes, it’s still a mess up to me.

So, I got home yesterday feeling demotivated and I googled “group fitness instructor experience”. Turns out I am not the only one going through this in the beginning. It felt so good to read about others’ experiences and I gained back some much needed self confidence from that.

Everybody starts somewhere and I can’t expect it to be perfect after only the third try. I guess I have to stop putting all that pressure on myself and just keep going. After all it’s true that only practice makes perfect.

My issue is definitely my fear of being judged. Reading through the experiences online however, I realized that I will never be able to please every single person out there anyway. Some people will like my classes and teaching style and others won’t. And that’s totally fine. Next time I will step on that stage and try not to think about what others may or may not think of me. I can’t change it anyway, so I might as well stop trying and focus entirely on my performance instead and in making myself proud.

I’ll keep you posted…

For all the other group fitness instructors out there, I’d love to here about your experiences or if you have any advice you can share. I look forward to hearing all about it 🙂

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