Erica Barker is a group fitness instructor, mom, and blogger. She wrote a post that I bet will resonate with each and every one of you. Her example isn’t about teaching cycling, but it sure applies to us cycling instructors! Erica gave me permission to repost her article below, and you can read her original post and follow her on her blog here.
Thank you, Erica, for putting into words what so many of us are feeling! Feel free to share this with other instructors, and even with your students! Sometimes they need a reminder about what we go through to bring them their one class of fun, sweat, and tears.
Today is devoted to group fitness instructors. The awesome people that are paid a small wage to be rock stars, except without the tour bus and the bodyguards. The one hour they devote out of their week to ensure that YOU get a kick-ass workout.
An hour??? Well, no not really. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Here is what a fitness instructor’s “time” looks like.
There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into teaching a group fitness class, especially freestyle classes. We spend HOURS and HOURS preparing ourselves to deliver a class that is safe, fun, effective and at the same time connect with our members to keep them wanting to come back to class.
So for me personally, here is what my process looks like. I will use prepping for Les Mills BodyPump as an example:
- We receive our quarterly releases via digital download. (Takes forever to download!)
- I watch the choreography DVD first. Then again as I go through it while reading the notes.
- Listen to the music and follow along in my head with the notes.
- This process usually repeats itself over and over 5 or 6 times before I can get it in my head to deliver the choreography successfully without notes or the DVD. (Keep in mind that from top to bottom the class runs approximately 50 minutes without breaks to change weights.) That is already 6 hours right there and I haven’t even done it physically yet.
- Physical run through of entire release. Add one more hour (maybe an hour and a half if I am dying). 🙂
- Now that I “might” have it in my head, I have to script my intros so I don’t sound like an idiot.
- Research and read the educational materials provided.
- Constant listening to the music in my car to and from school.
- Listening at home with my earbuds on every chance I get and mentally going through the choreography in my head while my family fights for my attention.
“Hey Mom!” Alana says as she is jumping up and down waving her arms at me. “What’s for supper?”
It’s already 6:30 pm and I have NO meat thawed.
“Shit. Well, looks like we are going out for Chinese”…my brain needed a break anyway.
So after about a WEEK of sleeping and breathing the newest BodyPump release, I am ready to present it to my class. Sometimes in its entirety and sometimes in bits and pieces. ONE HOUR. Done. What???? All that work for one hour class? Yes. All that work for one hour class. Why? Because we love it. Because we want to give you the BEST group fitness experience possible. Because we want to help others reach their personal goals. Sometimes because we are crazy. 🙂
That is just one example of what we REALLY do. Did I mention I have 2 more formats that I learn at the SAME TIME???? You can do the math. Triple the above.
Being a fitness instructor is hard work. We give up our personal time outside of class. We have come in and taught SICK, TIRED, INJURED, SAD, ANGRY, STRESSED, and so on. But you may not know it. That one hour is NOT about us. It is about YOU. We wipe our feet at the door and give you what you came for. Sometimes, it actually is the best therapy in the world so we have YOU to thank every time we teach. It is frustrating at times, though, when you do all this work to prep and class numbers are low or people don’t show up when they said they would. Empty bike syndrome……ugh!!!
I love my staff at the Y. They truly do not get the recognition they deserve sometimes. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! Brielle, Bailey, Ruth, Monica, Mary, Kerry, Kiri, Angie, Nancy, Buddy, and so many other instructors that have come and gone. You are appreciated.
So the next time you take a class from your favorite instructor…..please thank them, it might just put a smile on their face if they had a bad day.