I have a confession to make: back when I first started working out, I had no idea what I was doing (and you don’t even want to know what my real motivation was once upon a time … let’s say it is NOT what keeps me motivated today). Same thing applies to when I got my start as a baby instructor back in 2007. But I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a lot of incredible fitness professionals, from whom I’ve learned so much more than I would have ever imagined. These people have really changed my life from a fitness perspective, be it from learning where my elbows should be during a bicep curl, the importance of rest and recovery, or getting that extra little push to become a fitness instructor and share my passion with others.
I got to thinking about this the other day, shortly after a conversation with one of my “gym friends,” Amelia. I’ve known her for almost four years now – since I first started teaching at XSport Alexandria, back when she was a front desk girl and a group fitness class junkie. She no longer works at the desk, but you can still catch her in multiple classes a week – sometimes a day (though never mine … Amelia, are you holding my not teaching Les Mills against me??). I hadn’t had a chance to chat with her in a while, and she filled me in on some pretty exciting news when I saw her a few weeks back – she had submitted her final tape to be a BodyCombat instructor. Last week, she got the bigger news: her tape was accepted, and she was officially a certified instructor.
Which gets me to what I want to talk about today: the importance of finding a fitness mentor. Amelia is lucky in that she has had several years of being constantly surrounded by talented, motivational, amazing instructors – the kind of women (and men) who make you want to be just like them. People you can really look up to, who encourage you to become the type of instructor you’d want to take a class with. People who believe in your when you’re not sure you can do it (here’s a tip: if you love something enough, you can).
My fitness mentor – the woman who I still look at as one of the most fit, motivational, incredible women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting – was my TurboKick instructor, way back in 2005. Leslie is nothing short of amazing. Her classes are fun. Her personality is larger than life. She has been in the fitness industry for longer than she’d like me to disclose, and she seriously knows her stuff. Perhaps more importantly, I always felt like she genuinely cared about every single person who came across her path. Leslie was a big part of why I became an instructor – and a big part of why I’m still one today. Had she not pushed me, I may not be teaching as much as I am today (I’ll admit it … when I was completely intimidated by learning choreography for the first time, Leslie told me I’d better suck it up and learn it before I forgot it. It helped that at the time, she was both a Piloxing Master Trainer – she still is – and my National Group Fitness Director). And I certainly wouldn’t be having as much fun as I do each and every class I teach.
Do you need a fitness mentor to be successful? Maybe not, if you are dedicated and hungry to succeed. But it certainly helps. A good mentor teaches the kind of class you want to teach – they’ll help you learn the basics, craft your personal teaching style, and hold you accountable to becoming an awesome instructor yourself. I’ve had a few of the ladies in my classes earn fitness certifications, and I always tell them to ask questions, let me know if they want to run choreography, anything that can help them become successful instructors once they get their chance. Because I certainly wouldn’t be where I was today had Leslie not been a part of my life – she is truly one of the best instructors I have ever had the pleasure to take classes with, and I’m forever indebted to her for all the little things I picked up in her classes – many of which I use with mine today.