My fitness journey and reflections as a group fitness teacher

Aside from my meet-up group in which I teach group exercise at the beach, I landed my first paid group fitness teaching job at Crunch.  I do not make much but I’m not really doing it for the money, I’m doing it for the experience of my own expansion, to be a teacher, a leader and one who motivates.  It’s been over a month now and I’m totally getting the hang of it and I feel compelled to share how I overcame mental challenges along the way.

I began my fitness journey in 2012, when I was at a very low point in my life.  I was miserable at a job I didn’t like.  Looking back, I was really stuck in a mental rat cage that I put myself in and the cage was not even locked all along.  Fitness became the thing I looked forward to the most after work.  I remembered really admiring my fitness instructors.  I admired the way they contained the energy of the class and spoke loudly.  I envied their confidence.  I loved how authentic each teacher is in their own way.  I was jealous of their lifestyle, their easy going nature, they genuinely enjoyed doing what they do.  And I wanted that.

Even though I was physically fit and strong, my mentality wasn’t healthy in terms of what I hoped to achieve out of working out.  It was a kind of escapism.  It was motivated by the belief that I needed to “improve” myself and after years, my body no longer wanted me to do that, even though my mind wanted me to. I had really awful abusive thoughts when I didn’t work out.  I was no longer motivated and I felt spiritually broken.  At this time I moved to a new city and didn’t have many friends, so it was a time I really had to build myself up from scratch, figuring out who I am without social/peer influences.  Looking back, this was exactly what I needed and I’m so grateful for this experience even though it felt like hell.

I fell out of fast paced, intense workouts and tried yoga.  Yoga was at first just a workout, but it slowly turned into a practice of self love, observation, awareness and as cheesy as it sounds, enlightenment.  Slowly I was able to begin incorporating weight workouts back into my daily routine but this time I felt great.  I fell in love with weights again and I even started training my coworker, who is one of my best friends.  I discovered this really is a gift of mine and I ought to share it.

I finally build enough courage to sign up to get certified to teach group fitness.  And I completed it.  Even though I got my certificate to teach a while ago, I didn’t start teach for about a year later.  It has to do with the “ideas” I hold about being a fitness teachers and all the qualities I need to attain first before I feel “ready” enough.  I didn’t feel like I was good enough to teach even though I am totally capable.  I made teaching fitness such a big mountain that I have to climb.  I feel so silly now.  I was enough all along and the only thing I really needed was to reframe my perspective of what I thought about it.

It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego and I felt a calling to sign up for the yoga teacher training (YTT) that I learned what being a teacher really means.  How I initially viewed being a fitness teacher was super self-center, self- absorbed, a way of proving my capabilities, my confidence, which is something I lacked for a really long time.  Going through YTT, I learned teaching isn’t about me, it’s about my students, it’s a privilege to share my practice with others, opening a part of myself to share with others.  When students come to my class, it’s about their practice, their time, their bodies, their spirits and it’s not about getting approval on how I performed or how they should live up to my expectations of how they should be as students for me to feel like I’m a good teacher.  YTT taught me so much about my existing beliefs and it helped me shed so many layers, removed so many filtered lens in which I saw the world that no longer served me.

Then magically, I got a call from Crunch and I landed my first job and I make a conscious effort to incorporate my yoga learning into my fitness classes.  My students do not need to please me.  I do not need to entertain or please my students.  I’m there to show them how to workout in a sequence that I find effective.  It’s not a job for me to prove anything, it’s a job for me to really be.  Sometimes I wonder if my students are having a good time because they look at me with a blank face and I automatically feel like I need to change or improve what I’m doing, but then I realized that they’re just exhausted and that’s just the way workout classes are.  People will look at your blankly waiting for you to tell them what to do.  I remembered my old instructors saying I have a blank face when I work out when I am actually really enjoying the workout.

Yesterday I taught a class that I’m really proud of and I felt so content driving home.  Just simply content.  After every class I feel content because I feel I’m making a difference in every person’s life, even if it’s in a small way.  I let go of attachments of how I want my class to be like and I just teach.

I had an old friend who told me that I dreamed really small.  And I got really pissed at her for saying that.  Knowing what I know now, I do see the truth in that but I wasn’t ready to accept that then.  Now, I’m so convinced that with a the right mentality and a little bit of practice, everyone can do what they think is an incredibly HUGE thing.  But it really starts with the right mentality first and I am ready to dream bigger now!

Thanks for reading, can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me!

-Margaret

 

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