I taught my last Bodypump class on Wednesday.
I didn't realize it then though I've known for sometime that the end was imminent. A combination of gym politics, new management and low numbers had left me feeling unsettled and unfulfilled. I had set out at the beginning of the year to get my swagger back but even with trying to fake it till I made it, I was flailing. I was struggling to connect with people. I was struggling to connect with myself.
It's bittersweet that my tenure at that gym is over. I so desperately wanted to be a successful instructor (note: something that I think is different from being a good instructor) but it had become purely about making extra money to pay down some personal debt. My self esteem dove every time a class didn't do well or someone didn't laugh at a joke. Worse, I allowed others to determine my self worth.
Note: I think some of this goes back to a "fat girl" mentality where I still fear being judged and treated differently because of the way I look.
As with any experience, though, I did learn something, and it's something important. I am not meant for a big box gym.
1. BBG are about the guest connection but only because of money. Straight from the owner's mouth. I think it's important to foster connections "organically" and for them to come from the heart.
2. At a BBG, you are a salesperson first, group fitness instructor second. Your job is to recruit people to the class in order to make money for the gym in order to keep your position. I could be wrong but I'm fairly certain gym managers could give two naked rats about whether you give mandatory cues or use the five voices of Les Mills or have good squat form. I understand the importance of getting people to class and the role of an instructor - don't get me wrong - but I think it's more than "picking up" people in the bathroom.
3. It's not about being good, it's about being successful. I know my choreography, my cues and good form. I can safely lead you through a work out that challenges you. I lead by example but admit my own faults, as I am only human. For me, those are the things that make me a good instructor. However, being good does not make you a success at a big club. If you don't fit in with the demographic or aren't cool enough to attract that demographic, you will struggle to get numbers. Numbers = Success.
4. BBG don't care who you are. I think it's important for the gym and guests to know you because what you are offering is you - not a class. They want you to bring people in but if you are just a sales rep, I think the members will see that. Not to sound conceited or self important but I that there is something in me and my story that is important for a BBG and members to know. Maybe it's not my fault for sharing more but I also don't think I was given the chance because they didn't care.
I had given up a spot at a family-owned, non-traditional gym thinking that I was hitting the big time by going to the BBG. It was a place where I had authentic connections with guests, where I was welcomed as much one could into the fabric of the gym and I was trusted. I had issues there, albeit very few and very minor ones in hindsight, but I was never made to feel less than based on numbers. Most importantly, I enjoyed being there.
It had been a long time since I had enjoyed the BBG. Although I feel like I let myself down, my family down, it is OK. I am OK.
To quote a friend Facebook, "When He closes a door, He opens a window. Can't wait to hear what opportunity that window brings."
Note: If you are local to Fort Wayne, I'm working on creating my own opportunity - outdoor boot camps beginning April 29. Email me at hlthystrides at gmail dot com if you are interested.