8 Things I’ve Learned From One Year As A Fitness Instructor

March marks one year of teaching for me at Sweat. During that time, I’ve also picked up some teaching gigs at a couple other places in the city, but I credit Sweat for helping me break into this industry and grow to the level I have in just a year. As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve also taken on the position of Director of Social Media in addition to teaching, so it’s safe to say that I’m pretty invested in this business.

It’s been a crazy year and I have learned a lot both personally and professionally. In typical thinking out loud fashion, here are eight things I’ve learned from one year as a fitness instructor.

8 Things I've Learned From One Year As A Fitness Instructor

1. There are no stupid questions

I got my job at Sweat by trying out ClassPass for a month. I immediately fell in love with the workouts, but since I wasn’t working at the time, I couldn’t afford a membership and I knew I wanted to come more than 3 times a month (the limit for ClassPass). I emailed the owner to let him know how much I loved working out there and he suggested that we meet up for coffee that week.

When we met, he let me know that they had a program that provided me a membership in exchange for working a few hours a week at the front desk. He then told me about an internship program where I could eventually teach if I was interested. Since I was in the process of getting my personal training certification, this sounded like the perfect plan. The rest is history.

If it hadn’t been for me reaching out, establishing a connection, and asking if there was any way I could continue to come, my whole time at Sweat never would have existed.

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2. It takes time

As much as I willed myself to be the best instructor I could be right off the bat, it took time for me to find my comfort zone and own each and every class. It took patience and practice until I was able to feel comfortable pushing others and adapting workouts as I saw fit. During all of my initial feedback, I was told by more experienced instructors that it just takes time to get to that spot. My experience definitely proves that.

3. My energy comes from others

Sometimes teaching a class at 5:15 am means that I’m not my most energetic (hello staying up to watch the Oscars). Thankfully the cold, windy walk to work helps to wake me up, but sometimes it can be a struggle to exude that much energy that early in the morning.

Once I start teaching, however, I’m often inspired by the motivation and dedication of everyone who electively showed up that early to make healthier choices. I crank the music, get my mic on, and soon am finding energy I didn’t even know I had. Reminding them that they made the decision to wake up and come in reminds me that I did as well.

Sweat Chicago

4. Fitness brings people together

I’ve seen so many friendships form within the fitness community. As you start coming to the same classes, you meet the same people, and a great community starts to form. I’ve made so many great connections both from teaching and from showing up to work out alongside my clients. Everyone is always so supportive and it’s such an uplifting environment.

Sweat Chicago Team

5. My hair will remain up 98% of the time

The only time I end up wearing my hair down these days is on the weekend and that’s only if I actually feel like taking the time to do it. Most days I shower and throw it up in a bun on the top of my head. It’s super fast and convenient, but sometimes I miss having it down. I could technically style it if I really wanted to, but I’m likely to be working out the next day and will have to wash it again anyway. #fitnessproblems

6. You’re an authority

Clients who come to your class view you as an authority on the subject of fitness and movement standards, and they should. I make sure to thoroughly explain each movement and correct form throughout the class. Many times people will come up after class with questions or just because they want my opinion on fitness or food-related topics.

7. Exercise clothes are an investment

Earlier in my blog days I spent a lot of time talking about how I would never spend money on expensive workout clothes. I got a lot of my stuff from Target and Old Navy and would wear Hanes undershirts to work out in. With the amount of time I spend wearing athletic clothes and working out in them, I soon realized that you get what you pay for. Some of my pieces from Target and Old Navy are fine, but several of my pants have started to wear thin and have some issues with the seams.

These days, I look at athletic clothes as an investment. I buy a lot of stuff from Lululemon and Nike, but I still cringe at paying full price. I have only bought one top at full price, and everything else I’ve gotten through the Mercari app that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Seriously, it has saved me a TON of money and the clothes have all been amazing!

Lululemon Nike Fitness Clothes

8. There’s good and bad days

Some days I love what I do and some days I think that running all around from place to place (this includes my personal training clients) is going to burn me out. I pine for the long stretches of day from last year when I had much less work to do and I spent a lot of time reading. These are usually only fleeting thoughts, since what I get out of helping others is much more rewarding than sitting along by myself at home (but oh, how glorious it is).

Some days my teaching is on point and other days I finish a class and know it wasn’t my best. Either way, I know that all I can do is show up the next day and do the best job that I can.

I look forward to seeing what another year will bring with both my teaching and individual training. If you’re ever in Chicago and want to stop by, shoot me an email and I’ll get you in for free!

Question:

  • Instructors: What are some things you’ve learned during your time teaching?
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34 Comments

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 3:58 pm

      I’m obsessed w it!

  1. March 3, 2016 / 5:24 am

    I’ve been teaching yoga for about 2 months now. Slowly I am getting less nervous as my class time approaches and better at timing in my sequences. This was a great read as I know that over the next year I will improve and like you mentioned, there are good and bad days, but you have to keep showing up.
    Alicia recently posted…All About the Fiancé and Me: TOL #38My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 3:58 pm

      Exactly! And it really does come w time as much as I wanted to be amazing as soon as I started.

  2. March 3, 2016 / 5:39 am

    I love this post! 🙂 I am still in the corporate world but have my personal training certification and really want to teach classes… I’ve just been so nervous to honestly (first time I have admitted that). Hopefully I will find the courage. Would love to make the switch!

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 3:59 pm

      It’s so rewarding! See if you can shadow anywhere to get a feel of how it would be!

  3. March 3, 2016 / 6:42 am

    I TOOK YOUR FIRST CLASS!! (and several others)
    I think you have to remember that not every story is a success, but you have to treat it as having the potential to be your greatest success story ever. But you cannot do the work for them!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…What Does a Running Coach Do? Running Coaches Corner 2My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 3:59 pm

      #preach

  4. March 3, 2016 / 7:48 am

    I have the same hair problems! I wear my hear up just about every day because I workout at work so it’s like what’s the point of fixing my hair just to workout in a couple hours and then it be in a ponytail anyway?

    Did you get certified as a group fitness instructor or can you teach classes being a personal trainer?
    Jill @ RunEatSnap recently posted…Thinking Out Loud… Is it “Just Me”?My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      I teach classes as a personal trainer. Legally you can do it that way but not the other way around (be a trainer w a group ex cert).

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      Do it! Seriously, it never hurts to ask

  5. March 3, 2016 / 8:37 am

    I can’t speak to being a fitness instructor, but I can definitely say heck YES to workout clothes being a good investment. I generally stick to higher end workout gear because I like the way it looks/feels a lot better, and I know it’ll last for a long time. I have some pieces from Lulu that are going 5+ years and still look good.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…so many feels, upcoming travels, and when did that happen?!? (ToL #172)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:01 pm

      I know! I boycotted for so long but it’s really the smart way to go.

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:01 pm

      Hahaha I love it!

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:02 pm

      Right?!

  6. March 3, 2016 / 10:51 am

    Did you know Lululemon has a discount for fitness instructors? Bring your certification and they’ll get you signed up in-store. Lole also has a program and you can sign up for that one online!
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Use Your Hormones to be a Better RunnerMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      Yeah but 15% still isn’t much. Athletas is 30 at least

  7. March 3, 2016 / 11:28 am

    I like the “no stupid questions”. I think a lot of people are intimidated to go to a class setting because you never know who is there or if they are judging you. You might have a question but be nervous to speak up.
    Hollie recently posted…Six Things to Remember During a RaceMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      Oh most definitely. It’s so important though!

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      Yay! Do it!

  8. March 3, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    I love this! I have been wanting to teach fitness classes for years and just got certified in Pilates, but nobody wants to hire someone with no experience!
    Shannon recently posted…Lemon Artichoke Simmer SauceMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 3, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      Exactly!

  9. March 3, 2016 / 5:07 pm

    Ah, this makes me wish I had access to a studio again. I really really like taking classes. Especially when the instructors are pushing you to give your everything in a positive way [no screaming at those who can’t keep up at first]. I also very much agree with #4. The friendships built through workout classes or other sports are amazing.
    It’s so awesome to see how you got your job there almost by accident and how it developed for you.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted…No-bake Vegan Chocolate Fudge BrowniesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 7, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      Thank you! I’ve been blown away by how supportive everyone is. If you get a chance, definitely get back to some classes!

  10. March 3, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    All great lessons! I love reading posts like this.
    Until last year, I was TERRIFIED of group fitness. I’m so self conscious, but now that I’ve experimented with a variety of classes, it’s my jam. If I had a bit more time, money, freedom, and self-confidence, I’d want to get some kind of certification (if only for the Lulu discount, hehe). For now, I’ll just keep trying classes and wishing I could join every new boutique studio that opens near me. 🙂
    Catherine @ foodiecology recently posted…Exhaustion isn’t a Merit Badge: An Argument for Holding BackMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 7, 2016 / 4:44 pm

      That’s great! I’m so glad you’ve grown into it. Isn’t it fun??

  11. March 8, 2016 / 9:49 am

    I’m not going to lie….I’m glad you’re slowly coming over to the (dark) Lulu side 😛 hehehe.
    I can resonate with each of these points, ESPECIALLY that energy comes from others. I notice a difference in my teaching when I have a 9 people in Zumba versus 32.
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Chocolate Protein Oat Bars {Guest Post}My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 8, 2016 / 4:47 pm

      Yes. Some days there are only a handful of people and then I have to work even harder to keep the energy up!

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