Kisses Blown, Songs Sung: Last Night’s Spinning Class Made My Week

If you have ever taken a class with me, there is one thing that is clear: I LOVE being a group fitness instructor. (Interested in why? You can read about it here or here.) My Spinning class last night proved, once again, just how much of an impact a great class can have.

Let me back up just a little. It’s been one of those weeks. You know the ones – stagnant, bored and completely unmotivated to do much of anything. I had been feeling a little down – and let down – and truthfully, both Wednesday and Thursday, the only thing that was getting me through the day was knowing that I had classes to teach later that evening.

Which brings me back to Thursday night’s Spinning class. To start, the class was packed! For the second week in a row, I had to turn people away because we ran out of bikes a few minutes prior to start time. I hate having to do it, because, honestly, I know how I look forward to teaching my classes, so I’m assuming that most people, if they are going to make the effort to get to a class, feel the same. But as an instructor, we definitely take it as a compliment when our studios are packed – it tells us that we’re doing something right (at least I hope it’s that, and not that I teach at an ideal time slot).

As we got started, I gave my standard “have fun, and don’t be afraid to whoop, or yell, or sing … it really does help you burn more calories!” Now, typically, I say this, knowing that I will be the only one doing any of these things (Let’s be clear: I have no shame when I’m teaching a class. If it’s going to motivate them to keep pushing or work harder, I have no problem making a complete fool of myself). Turns out, last night, I was wrong.

My surprise came about four songs in, as we were climbing to Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).” Like I said, I like to sing to my classes occasionally. I figure, my parents paid for eight years of voice lessons, I might as well use them once in a while. As I’m encouraging the class to “blow me one last kiss” … this cute young guy in the back row ACTUALLY DOES! Now, I’m one of those instructors who will only call you out if you’re doing something awesome, so naturally, my reaction? “I like you! You just made my night!” (And really, he totally did.)

We kept cycling on, and about 30 minutes or so, Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” comes on – also known as one of my favorite songs to sing during class (there’s a little bridge that lends well to a slow march, and a few la-la-las that just beg to be sung). I always try to encourage the class to sing along with me, but they always look at me like “um, okay, crazy, we’ll keep on pedaling and let you do all the singing around here.” Looking around the room, what do I see? My new favorite cyclist, singing along with me. I was sold. I told him then and there he had to start coming back every week (unfortunately, turns out he is only in town for the week).

I guess the moral of the story here is that, as a participant, you really never know how much your attendance, and attitude, and willingness to go along with whatever I try to get you to do means to your instructor. It may seem like something small, just a young guy having fun in the back of the room, but in all honesty, he really did boost my spirits. It’s the little things that maybe only an instructor sees during a class – the characters, the people who get just a tiny bit stronger each week, the friendships that you cultivate from week to week – that make being a group fitness instructor absolutely the best job in the entire world.

So, to the cutie pie young guy in the back of my studio last night? Thank you. You totally made my night.

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Better than the Exercise-Induced Endorphins!

There are a lot of things that I love about being a group fitness instructor … but there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life. Just one person coming up to me at the end of class, sharing a story, or even just saying that today’s class was a great one, truly is a big part of why I do what I do.

Truth is, we group fitness instructors are an interesting breed. We regularly get in front of a group of people, and essentially make fools out of ourselves for the sake of others. We crack jokes. We push our classes to the limit. We sometimes get in their faces – and, depending on the class, we often are just plain evil. And we love every second of it. At my Piloxing training, our instructor shared something I hadn’t really thought of before, but it’s totally true – as the instructor, we have to give 150% to get the class to give us 80%. That probably explains the big personalities we tend to have 🙂 (Though, strangely, I consider myself to have two persoalities – gym me is outgoing, enthusiastic, and will talk to anyone, while outside of the gym me is much quieter, rather shy, and very self-conscious.)

Did I become a group fitness instructor because I wanted to change lives? Not initally – to be honest, I thought it sounded cool, and I figured if I was at the gym all the time anyway, and I was pretty good at most of the classes I took, so why not? But after I had a few classes under my belt, I knew it was so much more than that. I had the power to help people become healthier, to cheer up at the end of a bad day, or, as a few of my regulars have told me – look great for their weddings. It’s the reason I tack another two hours on to my work day on Wednesdays. It’s the reason I’m on a bike at 9 a.m. on Sunday, rather than still lazing in bed. It’s the reason I’m always searching for new ideas, or different cues, or an answer to a question that came up during class.

Essentially … when I became a group fitness instructor, I found my calling. I found my passion. I found myself. I found my life.