Adventures in Team Teaching

Tonight, I had the pleasure of team teaching Pilates with Erin at Sport and Health – Crystal Park. It was kind of a last-minute thing (just worked it out last night), and we weren’t really sure how to work it … but we ended up having a really great time!

We ended up going half and half with the class – Erin taught the first half, and I finished up the second. It was fun to actually take a class (even if it was only about 20 minutes before I took over), and it’s always great to have the opportunity to see how other instructors structure your classes, interact with participants, and call the moves. I think we both definitely picked up something new to use in each of our classes going forward.

It’s actually the second time in the last week I’ve had a chance to do some team teaching. Last Wednesday, my girl Kim (a.k.a. XSport’s newest Piloxing instructor) helped me out with a block during class. It’s interesting to see how someone else teaching the moves that you are so used to – especially since she’d taken so many classes and picked up some tips from me. She did GREAT – and I’m looking forward to letting her take the reigns when I have to travel for work in May (to the drone conference. I’m not kidding. This is my “real” work…). And I’ll attest … it’s a whole lot easier to teach an entire class when you’ve spent a little bit of time in front of a live class (versus practicing in front of a mirror, with maybe one or two recruits). It gets the jitters out, helps you relax, and maybe even start to find your own personal teaching style.

Bottom line – it’s always great to get perspective on how other instructors teach their classes, especially when they are moves that remain consistent most weeks. There are always opportunities to learn some things yourself.

XSport Spring Quarter Schedules Start Today!

It’s that time again already…new spring schedules start today! As I’ve already mentioned, I am cutting back a little. Here is my teaching schedule starting this week:

Piloxing, 6 p.m.
Pilates, 7:15 p.m.

Cycle, 6 p.m.

Sundays (alternate weeks)
Pilates, 10:45 a.m.

I’ll keep you updated on my Sunday Pilates schedule as it’s set at the beginning of the month. For April, I’ll be teaching April 13 and 27.

I teach all of my classes at the Alexandria location. You can view the complete schedule for all locations here:

Cutting Back is Hard to Do.

As you may know by, 1. my lack of posts throughout the last two months, and 2. the fact that I apologize for it every time I manage to get a post out, life has been pretty hectic here in 2014. I’m still getting my workouts in, classes are great, work is fine, the boy is wonderful … but I feel like I’m constantly running (and not in the way I like to be).

The last six months of my life have been pretty whirlwind. I started a new (more demanding … and significantly better paying) job. I met my Marine (which made me realize that there really are great guys out there … even if I sometimes call him a jerkface, I can’t over look the fact that he took me to a ball and Hawaii). I’ve made new friends, seen new places, and, as my mother would say, finally allowed myself to have somewhat of a life outside of the gym and work. Granted, it hasn’t all been great – I (barely) survived the government shutdown a mere three weeks into my new job, and seriously, if the longest winter of all time is not behind us, I may completely lose it. But overall, I’m probably in the best place I’ve been in a long time.

However, with the good, I’ve realized that while I’d like to be, I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all, no matter how hard I try. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. Life has been a treadmill, and it’s been set at a 9-mile an hour pace (whereas my average running pace usually hovers more around 7). I’ve had to really look at what I can do to find a fraction of time in my life and start to catch my breath before I pass out. And it’s led me to do something that has me still struggling with some mixed feelings.

I’ve been teaching two classes on Sunday mornings for more than three and a half years now. And while I love my classes, I’m exhausted. I’m not making enough time for myself and the people and activities that are important to me outside of the gym. Which is why, though it was a hard decision to make, I’m stepping back a little.

Tomorrow is my last Sunday double. I’ll still be teaching Pilates every other week, but I just feel like at this point in my life, it’s too much for me to be committed to every week. Though it should already be, I still want to make it clear that I thought long and hard, and struggled with what I really wanted to do. I’ve thought about it for months, and even asked back in November if there was any way to find an alternate schedule. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it work for one class.

It’s tough to give up my Piloxing class, though. Honestly, it’s something I’m really proud of. I’ve built the format from scratch, introducing something totally new to a club that drinks the Les Mills koolaid by the keg. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with that group. I’ve seen many of my regulars become stronger, fitter…heck, I’ve watched a couple of them fall so in love with the format they became certified instructors. And I’m so glad I’ll still get to play with them every Wednesday.

This will be a change for me. I won’t have an alarm wake me up every Sunday. I won’t have to turn down plans because I have to teach in the morning (or I’m teaching during said plans). I’ll be able to go out of town without having to beg someone to cover a class for me. It’s definitely a change, and change is good. I’ll miss seeing those faces every week…but I’ve also missed having a life.

So there it is, the big news. The rest of my schedule is staying the same, so I’ll update on the new schedule early next week.

My Students are Becoming Instructors. I Feel Like a Proud Mama.

I know, I know. I’ve been a slacker lately (from a blog perspective). But there has been a LOT going on … and I have some exciting news to share – albeit about a week later than I really wanted to talk about it.

I’ve been teaching group fitness classes for about five years now, and it is, hands down, the most rewarding job in the world. Though it’s more of my free-time fun activity vs. my actual job (at least for now … someday …), I’ve found not only the success stories you hear, but also the relationships you build to be pretty amazing.

Which brings me to what I want to talk about today. I’ve had a few girls take the leap and attend certification classes for a number of formats throughout the years (and another one is picking up another certification soon). Let’s be honest: it’s easy to sign up for a class, but to actually take the time to practice, get an audition, rock it, and get hired by a gym? It’s a lot more difficult (and time consuming) than most people realize.

Which is why I was THRILLED to find out that last week, the first of my “babies” (yes, I’m claiming them now) did all of these things. My girl Kim has been a regular in my Piloxing classes for a while now, and took the leap of faith to get certified herself back in July. And last week, she got herself hired to sub at XSport.

Yes, there is still some work to do, and she’ll do a little team teaching and likely still practicing (and obviously, still attending classes). And the first couple classes may not be perfect (I’ll admit mine did not go as well as I would have wanted them to). But the biggest hurdles are already behind her. It takes a lot of guts to get in front of a room full of people and convince them that you’re not torturing them, you’re having fun with them. And getting a good sweat on along the way. Like anything else, once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes second nature. And as the classes pass, you’ll find what works for you, what works for the class, and how important continuing education truly is.

But I’m claiming “proud mama” (no, I do not have children, and yes, I am younger than Kim). To know that your passion has helped another person build that same kind of passion within herself? It’s incredible. And that’s what makes a great instructor: passion. Seeing Kim’s smiling face in class all these months, I know she has that passion. And I can’t wait to see her start rocking her own classes.

So, are you motivated to make it happen for yourself now? Here are a couple former posts that can get you going:

Finding a Group Fitness Mentor

How Do I Break into the Fitness Industry?




Winter 2014 Group X Schedules Start Thursday!

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday season and you’re ready to get back to the gym and back to work (even I took a few more days off these last two weeks than I’d normally like to – recharge perhaps?)

With the new year comes the new group fitness schedule at XSport, and once again, I’m happy to report that my schedule has not changed! You can still catch me:

9:30 a.m. Piloxing
10:45 a.m. Pilates

6 p.m. Piloxing
7:15 p.m. Pilates

6 p.m. Cycle

Would love to see you for any of these – and if you’re not in the area, remember you can always still check out my playlist every Thursday evening (usually within 30 minutes of class end). If you would like to see the entire XSport Alexandria schedule, click here.

Apparently I Lived at the Gym this Weekend…

I have a confession to make: I MAY have spent close to eight hours in the gym between yesterday and today. No, it was not some kind of seminar or certification … it was literally classes, workouts and a couple unexpected things that popped up. Not that I’m complaining – I love being in the gym. But I know many of you are reading this wondering, what on EARTH can you possibly spend that much time doing?!?

Sunday mornings, I teach class from 9:30-11:45, and I always try to get there by 9:00 at the latest – just so I have a little time for a 15-20 minute warm-up on my own before class starts (you know, get those endorphins flowing so I’m at my crazy best by the time class kicks off). I’ve been stretched a little thin these last several weeks – I normally teach five classes a week, and during the last three weeks, it’s been more like eight – so I have to fit my weight workouts in when I can. Regardless of how much I’m teaching, I still try to get a good three weight workouts in a week – and with a GORGEOUS dress hanging in my closet, waiting to be worn this weekend (I was invited to the Marine Corps Ball), I have no interest in giving up a weight workout for lack of time. So post-class Sunday it was.

This morning, I had planned to meet one of my Piloxing girls, Kim, at 10:30 to run through some choreography and give her some tips as she prepares to audition to join our XSport Group Exercise staff (YAY!!). So what do I do? Show up at 9:30 (knowing we are planning on running choreography until noon), run 5k and get a little weight work in. Choreography practice went pretty well, and at the end, Kim invited me to join her for her noon training session. Since she invited, I was glad to join in on a little further torture. At about 1:15 (and nearly 1650 calories later), I was finally on  my way home. Totally worth it. No matter how hard of a workout I plan for myself, I always learn something new and push even harder when I have a trainer in my face. And lesson of the day? I really need to figure out the best way to use a foam roller, because HOLY CRAP. Apparently my IT band is insanely tight. And sadly, the one part of my body I thought was probably the tightest (my hamstrings – they’ve just felt locked up lately, and no matter how much I stretch, it seems to do nothing) was the one body part that didn’t cause me to need peeled off of the ceiling.

Here’s the thing: I had not planned to spend this much time working out this weekend (oh, yeah, I taught a class at Sport&Health on Saturday, too, so add in another hour of cardio and a light leg workout, and you have another two and a half hours to my clearly gym-centric long weekend). But the thing is … I know it’s an illness, but I loved every minute of it. I think it’s amazing how quickly the time can pass when you’re doing something you love (okay, not going to lie, the foam roller felt like it was never going to end. And I’m pretty sure the effects of it will hit me tomorrow more so than they already have). I may be pushing hard, and I may be truly working, but whether I’m teaching a class, or running, or lifting, or anything else physical that I decide to torture myself with, I love every single second of it. It’s not work. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

From the Archives: What Your Group X Instructor Wishes You Knew

A lot has changed since I taught my first class, way back in 2007. It’s amazing how much you can pick up throughout the years – and I don’t mean the three or four other certifications I’ve added to my repertoire. It’s the little tips, ideas and observations you gather along the way – and many of them don’t come from continuing education … they are the lessons you learn from the people who frequent your class week after week.

That said, I absolutely love being a group fitness instructor. It is one of the most rewarding jobs I could ever imagine having. But we instructors definitely have our secrets – things you may not see during class, or know about us. Here are a few of the most common things we wish you knew:

There’s a lot of prep work before our time together. I took Pilates classes at least twice a week for four years before I started teaching them. I ran Piloxing choreography for months before I was comfortable enough to show it to anyone other than myself in the mirror. I’m constantly searching for new Spinning music, and I spend time every week crafting, shuffling and reworking my playlists so they have the right flow. I’m constantly researching answers to your questions, looking for more efficient ways to explain or cue an exercise.
I’m not always happy/healthy/perky/awake … or whatever you think I am. I am definitely not perfect. I’ve taught Spinning classes on three hours of sleep. I’ve smiled and joked through a class the day my grandfather passed away. I feel fat sometimes. I recently spent six weeks teaching on a stress reaction in my left foot (a precursor to a stress fracture, for those of you who are wondering … and no, I had never heard of it until I saw the x-rays, and yes, I would have cried had my doctor cut me off instead of telling me to cut back on the barefoot training). As the instructor said at my Piloxing certification, we have to give 150% just to get our classes to give 80%. It’s truer than you know.
That said … all those eyes can be a little intimidating. Being in front of 15, 25, sometimes 35 or more people is an invitation to be scrutinized. I’m going to miss a cue once in a while. I’m going to say something stupid. I have terrible balance, so I’m probably going to teeter at some point. I may joke about it … but trust me, it’s because I’m beating myself up over it.
Leave the phone at home. I vividly remember teaching a Spinning class during which a girl –right in front of me, nonetheless – sat and texted the entire class. First, you’re distracting yourself from what you should be doing (breathing, focusing on form, pushing yourself), and secondly, you’re a distraction to the people around you, as well. Unless you are a doctor on-call, or your wife is about to give birth any second, there is no reason why you can’t turn the technology for one hour. I leave my cell in the car – my gym time is my me (or class) time.
Drink up. I carry a 32 oz. water bottle pretty much everywhere. I go through at least three of them when I’m at work, and usually another one (or more) at the gym. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
I don’t want your germs. I’m sure the people around you don’t, either. If you’re sick – and especially if it’s something contagious, like the flu – stay home and recover. Pushing too hard when you’re under the weather will just delay getting you back to 100%.
Follow my lead. Why go to a class if you’re just going to do your own thing? Not only is it a distraction to the people who want to be doing what I’m doing, you could actually end up hurting yourself. There’s a reason I give modifications and options – so that every fitness level can get the level of difficulty they’re looking for. You shouldn’t be doing crunches while the rest of us are throwing punches and trying not to trip over you.
BREATHE! The more oxygen you have circulating through your body, the easier your exercise will feel. Never, ever hold your breath, because you could pass out – and though I am required to be certified in CPR, but I pray I never have to use it.
If you have a question, ask me! I love when people come up to me with questions – it tells me that not only did they like my class, they were paying attention and genuinely want to get stronger. I may not always know the answer, but if I don’t, I’ll look into it – or at least try to steer you in the right direction.
So keep these tips in mind, and keeping sharing your ideas and suggestions with me! Knowing what my classes like, what works for them, and what they don’t like is what keeps them coming back for more – even after I send them home achy and covered in sweat.

XSport Fitness Fall Schedules Start TODAY!

It’s that time again … new XSport Fitness class schedules start today! There are a few changes, so definitely check it out – if you’ve been waiting to try Insanity, you will have a few opportunities each week, starting today (no, I’m not teaching it … I thought about it, but with the new job, the last thing I need to be doing right now is adding another certification for another class I definitely don’t have time to teach).

Only one tiny change in my schedule this go-round. Here’s when you can catch me:

Piloxing, 6 p.m.
Pilates, 7:15 p.m.

Cycle, 6 p.m. (note we’re starting 15 minutes later … so some of you may not have to duck out of work early to join me for class anymore)

Piloxing, 9:30 a.m.
Pilates, 10:45 a.m.

You can check out the new schedule here.

My Saturday at DCAC … Well, That Was Exhausting!

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend my first group exercise conference. DCAC actually spanned this entire weekend, but with work to go to on Friday, and classes to teach on Sunday, I was only able to fit in one day. It was kind of a last minute thing – but I’m glad I had a chance to do it!

It was an incredibly long day, and me (being how I am) took advantage of all the classes I could take. Classes started at 7 a.m., and went all the way until I dragged myself out the door around 6 p.m. Everything was good, but I definitely liked some classes better than others … and potentially found my next certification?

Here’s a quick rundown of my day:

7 a.m.: Labarre
I kind of went into this one blind, not really even knowing what it was going to be like. I’d taken a barre class before, and it was TOUGH, so I figured it wasn’t going to be easy. This class was probably my second-favorite of the day, though! The instructor was actually the creator, Jenn Hall, a former dancer and current exercise physiologist out of Georgia. She had a great personality, the workout was tough (HOLY SQUATS), and I definitely got a good sweat!

9:30 a.m. Yoga I.S. Pilates
I saw Pilates, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a little refresher since I haven’t taken a class from anyone (besides myself) in a really long time. It was more of a Pilates/Yoga fusion (perhaps I’d even call it a crossover), and I did learn a few things. The instructor had a great background in yoga and Pilates and the science behind both (she holds multiple Masters degrees), so we got a great education on the anatomy of different yoga exercises and how they translate to comparable Pilates exercises.

11:30 a.m. R.I.P.P.E.D.
I’d heard of this class before, but I’d never seen it, and didn’t know too much about it – but I figured the name alone had to be a good sign. Hands-down, my FAVORITE class of the day. The instructors were awesome, the format was tough, and it was one of those ones that you’re surprised how quickly an hour flies by. The class was a great combination of cardio and strength – there was band work, boxing work, push-ups, planks … and lots of sweat and great music. This may end up being my next certification, because it was AWESOME.

1 p.m. Piloxing
As a Piloxing instructor, I figured it was practically a requirement to take a class with the pros! But I have to be honest … I really wasn’t impressed. I felt like for a class based on “blocks” with “singlets” as transitions, there wasn’t really too much meat in the blocks, and a LOT more singlets than I’m accustomed to teaching. I actually had a hard time figuring out exactly where we were in the class – and the format is pretty rigid, so that shouldn’t have ever been a question. If nothing else, this class definitely showed me the importance of verbal cuing – the instructor was busier trying to pump us up, rather than tell us what’s coming next, and I almost had a hard time following some parts (which is sad, because I’ve been teaching this class twice a week for more than a year and a half).

2 p.m. Spinning: Form and the Five
I’m a stickler for form, so this was a great one for me. It was half lecture, half practical (meaning a ride), and the instructor was actually the same girl who taught my instructor training when I first got Spinning certified more than three years ago. The lecture section was really interesting – it talked about how different body types and postural issues can play a role in your riding form in each of the five Spinning positions, as well as how to correct it. It was good confirmation that my form is actually as good as I think it is (she went around the room correcting people – and I never needed corrected), and I picked up a couple new ways to cue posture, as well. I’m sure my class will appreciate that I’ve discovered yet more ways I can yell at them about their posture. Only downside? “Traditional” Spinning spends a lot of time in seated flats and seated climbs. I like to be out of the saddle as much as I can … it makes the time fly a lot faster!

4:30 p.m. BOSU Crush It!
Full disclosure: I was exhausted and hungry by the time I got to this class, so I wasn’t totally into it. I liked the concept, and I love learning new ways to use the BOSU, but it ended up having a partner-based component, and that’s just really not my thing (I think it goes back to always being the last kid picked in gym class). Oh, and I can officially re-confirm: my balance sucks. I did pick up a couple new tricks, though, so there may be a little more BOSU in my life in the coming weeks.

Like I said, it was a long day, but it was a good one! Heart rate monitor says I burned somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 calories throughout the workshops, and I slept like a rock last night. Most of all, it was great to be in the environment of people who also love the same things you do, and understand the importance of fitness – and how challenging (in both a good and bad way) it can be to keep a class excited and motivated. Just more confirmation of why I love what I do those few days a week!

Hybrid exercising: Piloxing and Barre Ride |

Good news! The story I taped for ABC 7 here in D.C. a couple weeks ago aired this morning. As promised, you can see me in action here: Hybrid exercising: Piloxing and Barre Ride |

If it peaked your interest, remember you can always join me for a class at XSport Fitness in Alexandria for Piloxing on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. and on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. Hybrid workouts are definitely the way to go – so come have some fun and get fit with me!