Sunday, April 6, 2014

Deflated: My Bodypump Instructor Journey

I taught my last Bodypump class on Wednesday.

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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.

Here's why:

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.


  1. Sorry this happened. Being let go is never fun, even if it is the right thing. I'm thinking that window is going to open to a wonderful new opportunity.

    1. So right. I call it a semi-mutual decision.

  2. I'm sorry it didn't work out the way you wanted, but it's pretty awesome that you were an instructor, and a good one at that. That's not something everyone can do.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and perspective.

  3. I can't wait to hear about your success in your new endeavors. Completely under YOUR direction. And you're allowed to feel self important because you are a #rockstar

  4. I'm obviously not an instructor but as a guest, I've felt the same way about BBG. They don't really care about you, it's about the money. I'm sorry that this didn't workout the way you intended. Hopefully you'll find a new opportunity that allows you to connect with your class participants and feel appreciated the way you should.

    I'd take your class if I were local!

  5. Best of luck to you as you move on to something awesome!

  6. Do you think you will go back to the small gym and do your boot camp as well? I am excited to hear more about that!

    Just hearing what people who go to BBG's say, I think I would never fit in there. I don't like to "sell"!

    1. You are my fitness role model/guru, and so it makes me feel good that you wouldn't "fit" at a BBG. It's so much about selling to an annoying level.

      I don't think I'll go back to the old gym - I just feel sort of awkward though I did email the manager an apology. I just felt like a twit the way I left. The boot camps should be good, though! I'm using the run club to network, as well as Mark's school ties, and posting some sings. We're going to parks and it's going to be RAD.

    2. Aww, thank you! Yeah, Brian (our studio owner) has told us all these pushy BBG horror stories from his earlier days. I just don't have that personality!

      Outdoor workouts will be so fun! Will it be body weight based? Did you have to get any special park permit for it?

    3. Body-weight for the win! I'm testing the first workout tomorrow a.m. Maybe I can send it to see what you think?

      As far as I can tell, there's no real permits needed for the parks. I've read the ordinances several times and see no restrictions unless it's a pavilion you can rent. I am going to travel through the parks so I'm not taking over a spot for a while.

    4. Yeah! I'd love to see it! And that is great about the permits! I hope you find a spot you like! :)