Confessions of a Group Exercise Instructor

Confessions_of_a_group_exercise_instructor

While I would hardly consider myself an expert in leading group fitness classes (give me another 20 years for that!), I have had the opportunity to teach quite a few fitness classes at various locations to a variety of people over the past 3.5 years or so.

Sometimes I feel like I am totally nailing it!

And other times I really just feel like nut…

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 Hehe

So whether you are a class participant, never took a fitness class before, new group ex instructor, or a veteran in the field (advice welcomed!), here are my confessions to you:

I spend quite a bit of time on this fitness stuff!

From putting workouts together, to researching different exercises and techniques, to continued education, to buying and picking out workout outfits (apparently sweat pants and college T-shirts don’t really scream fitness professional)!

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See, if Mick Jagger wasn’t wearing a sweat suit – this would look totally cool!

I like to workout alone sometimes.

Being in front of a whole class who expects you to lead them through a great workout that is tough, but not ridiculously challenging, that is safe, but not boring, that is fun, but also effective… all the while ensuring no one looks like they are going to die or kill you… can be exhausting! So, I defiantly appreciate the times when I can workout all by myself and not have to think about or worry about anything or anyone else.

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Love it when you have the whole gym to yourself!

I am not perfect.

PerfectionI don’t always eat perfect, have perfect posture, workout regularly, get enough sleep, drink enough water, stretch enough…

Unless someone is training (and training hard) for a particular event, it is highly unlikely and unreasonable for a person to be the perfect picture of health all the time. Yes, it is my job as a fitness professional to practice what I preach, but I believe health, like life, is a balance. Being obsessive to the point where life is all about perfection really is not my idea of healthy (or fun)!

When people tell me they liked my class, I keep it pretty cool, but really, it’s freakin’ great!

You are getting critiqued constantly when you are in front of a class. I usually try not to think too much about that and focus on giving a workout that people will take something away from, whether it is an exercise pointer or advice or just sore muscles! Nonetheless, you know people in your class have opinions, and I like to hear them, the good and the negative!

So often I will ask a class full of people a question and no one will answer. I get it, everyone is waiting for someone else to say something or people are just in that mode where they don’t want to think and just follow my lead, but those blank stares sometimes really make ya question what is going on in people’s heads! So, a little positive reinforcement goes a long way and shows me I am doing something right! And it definitely makes me want to do a happy dance!

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Bec – Isn’t this your dance? 

That being said, feel free to laugh at my jokes!

I know I am no comedian, most of us instructors are not, but it sure makes working out more fun to have a few laughs here and there! Sometimes people don’t laugh at my jokes, and seriously, I swear sometime they down right just didn’t hear them! They must not have, or else I am sure they would be cracking up! :)

But really, fitness should be fun! And if you ever take one of my classes and I tell a joke, you better at least fake laugh!

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“Hey I just met you and this is crazy, but tomorrow is chest day, so spot me MAYBE?”
Told ya, I am hilarious.

It kind of bothers me when people don’t listen to me.

Call me crazy, or bossy, but it kind of irks me to have people take my class and not listen to me. I used to teach at a gym where I had a couple ladies who always came to class and always did their own version of what I was doing. Ooook?

Then there are some people who when you tell the class to get light weights (4-6 lbs) because I want to do high reps of a bunch of shoulder exercises, they think they are tough and grab 12 pounds dumb bells instead. I am all about challenging yourself , but when I cannot complete the circuit I had planned because some people’s form is so awful that they look like they are going to strain their back with a weight that is too heavy, it kind of bother me!

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I’m bossy! I’m the first girl to scream on a track
I switched up the beat of the drum…

I get class ideas from Google.

Like writer’s block, sometimes I get instructor’s  block! And the internet is an amazing tool. When I need some fresh ideas, I like to watch YouTube videos, read blogs, and google exercise ideas  (I recently looked up yoga inspired strength moves and core fitness exercises for golfers).

Sometimes every idea in my head for a class just seems to suck, so when I need to really pull it together, I am grateful for other fitness pros who have paved the way with awesome ideas for classes and exercises!

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Playing tennis with a Carol is the worst!

I don’t work out ALL the time and am not always full of energy.

Yes, I like working out, yes, I like to feel good and be healthy, yes, I try to keep the jiggle to a little, but if I didn’t HAVE to be at this crack-of-dawn class, I would probably still be sleeping under my nice, cozy covers! It is a blessing in disguise to have to teach early though, because while it does SUCK to wake up early, once your up it is totally worth it!

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Got an extra 45 minutes on your hands? Google “funny animals sleeping”, so cute (and time consuming)!

If you are a Group Ex instructor, what are some of your confessions?

When working out, do you like it when the gym is empty or buzzing with people?

Other posts about Group Ex:

Composing a Fitness Class

10 Things I’ve learned from being a Group Ex Instructor

Group Exercise Survey Results

Keep in touch, please….with a cherry on top!

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What I have learned in my first year of my 30s…

I had a birthday this past week. Since I have an August birthday, I got spoiled with not having school on my bday and have taken the day off work every year since college!

So that I did, with the intention of going to the pool. But it was really windy and rainy all day. So after breakfast with my dad and sister,  I took a nap instead!

Luckily the rain stopped in just enough time for some margaritas with my sista and friends outside on a patio!

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I texted my friends to come out and celebrate me turning 31 and told them I would be happy to share the wisdom I have gained in my first year of my 30s with them. Since I was busy napping most of the day, I did not have time to think of many useful words of wisdom to share with the youngins!

So, I thought about this these past couple days. And without further ado!

The things I have learned in my first year of my 30s…

I’ve learned that my body needs a good night sleep…like every night!

The wrinkles around my eyes mean I have laughed a lot.

I will probably never be as fast as I was when I was younger.

But I can run further, am stronger, and am a smarter soccer player!

I’ve learned that there are very few people in this world who truly believe God is our creator and Jesus is our Savior.

Time is valuable and watching dumb things on TV (which is the majority of television) is a waste of time.

Many of the people that run companies and/or are in charge of important decisions are idiots.

I’ve learned that in many cases, a good work ethic and passion for what you do is more valuable than a college degree.

I’ve learned the older I get, the younger these kids get!

And I am falling behind the learning curve when it comes to iphones, apps, and all this technology!

I’ve learned that everybody really is very different and it takes some time to really get to know and understand someone, even if you do not always agree with them, you can try to understand how they think and feel…

Eating healthy is really important, not just to keep my weight in control but to feel better and have more energy.

I’ve learned that going to church is important.

Life is not about oneself. “A life not lived for others is not a life.” – Mother Teresa

I’ve learned that many people do not understand what proper posture is and cannot perform a squat correctly.

The bloggers who read my blog and whose blogs I read really do seem like kind and caring people!

I’ve learned having patience is hard, but necessary.

Kind words are better than harsh words.  “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24

Life is hard, and also beautiful.

It is good to challenge yourself…physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’ve learned that the more I learn, the more I have to learn!

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For whatever age you are, what have you learned in the past year (or two)?

What is the best advice you have ever received?

5 Ways to improve a common #RunnerProblem (Tight Muscles!)

Pre-run on trail

If you read my blog, you may know that I am not really a hard-core runner, but I do enjoy a nice jog now and then! You may also know that I teach group fitness classes. In my classes, I have a few regulars who are avid distance runners. I see a common issue in class with many runners (and non-runners). This issue I am speaking of is tight muscles!

Common areas of tightness for runners include:

Quadriceps and other hip flexor muscles

I recently read an article that explained why the legs and glutes are prone to being tight in runners that made a lot of sense. The author used the analogy of trying to walk on ice. You naturally tense up your body to stabilize yourself. When people run, they often tense their muscles (quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, shoulders) causing restricted muscle movement.  These muscles that should be moving are also acting as stabilizers, therefor unable to go through their full range of motion.

The hip flexors are a very common area where many people are tight because chronic sitting (in the car, during meals, at work, when you get home from work and want to relax) leads to the muscles being shortened more often than lengthened. Over time, if you do not stretch them out, the hip flexors become very tight.

Glutes

Muscle imbalances are responsible for so many running injuries. If you have tight hip flexors it will cause weak or mis-firing glutes. The piriformis muscle lies deep under the glutes and is one of six muscles responsible for outward rotation of the hip. The foot pushing off the ground movement in running contributes to the tightness and soreness that can affect the glutes and piriformis muscle.

Calves

The calves are another muscle that are commonly tight in people. Wearing high heels regularly can cause the calf muscle to actually shorten over time. The calf muscles are used so often in everyday activities (walking, climbing stairs, etc.) and are constantly working to stabilize the ankle that they are prone to becoming tight.

Since our body is like one big chain, if you have tight hip flexors like mentioned above, it will result in a lack of hip extension when running and therefore a bigger reliance on the calf muscles.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are an important muscle group that acts to flex the knee and extend the hip. They are commonly tight due to overuse or rapid increase in exercises loads.

Shoulders

Hunching of the shoulders is such a common problem and I see it all the time in runners and non-runner alike. I often catch myself sitting at my desk typing with my shoulders hunched up and tense. Regularly wearing a purse strap on your shoulders causes them to constantly be activated and tense. Hunching and tensing the shoulder causes serious tightness in the neck, upper back, and shoulders, which can carry over to running.  When your shoulders inch up toward your ears, it prevents your arms from swinging freely forward and back. Your arms take a less natural side-to-side motion, which is a waste of energy and can causes unnecessary fatigue. Think back to the walking on ice example…generally when you’re tensed up, you are not swinging your arms or legs too far back and forth.

One of the main causes of tight muscles is stress. Stress from daily living and stress from exercising. Being tense and tight becomes the “norm” for many people. Other causes for muscle tightness include overuse, chronic imbalanced movement patterns, postural deviations (hunching shoulders), and general lack of stretching!

So what can you do to fix this common #RunnerProblem!?

1. Foam roll – slowly!

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Watch this Runner’s World video on foam rolling

2. Breathe Properly

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Wiki.com – How to Breathe While Running

3. Do Yoga

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Check out fellow blogger Chickadee Says blog post – Yoga Poses for Runners

4. Stretch often and target tight muscles

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Good article on SparkPeople.com – 6 Stretches Every Runner should do

5. Remember to keep good form and proper posture in everyday activities and while running!

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What muscles do find to be tight most often before, after, or during your run? 

Any tips or tricks?

Why Kettlebell Swings should be your full-body exercise of choice!

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Kettlebell swings are an AMAZING exercise. If you are only going to do one full-body exercise today…make it a kettlebell swing!

Seriously, grab a 15 – 20 lb kettlebell or weight (you are using your whole body so you can go a little heavier than you would if you were just doing a shoulder press or something) and knock out 30 kettlebell swings!  Continue reading

Summer time and the livin’ is easy

Wow, summer is flying by… and I have not posted in over a week and a half!! I have tried to keep up with blogging, but clearly I have fallen a bit behind! When I first started this wee little blog, I tried to post 2 -3 times a week…not so much lately.  I tell you, I don’t know how some of these bloggers keep up with it all….oh yeah, they quit their real jobs, have husbands that can support them, and become full time bloggers (how fancy)! :) tumblr_inline_n4v91ntP2y1qjygqr

While my life is not quite as fancy, I have been having fun while keeping busy with a few new fitness ventures, workouts, and enjoying the sun!  Continue reading

Fun weekend at the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Eastern PA!

This past weekend was a fun, and muddy, one! A group of awesome girlfriends formed a team and we called ourselves Mud, Sweat, and Beers!

Mud Run before shot
We dressed alike, we ran, we climbed over obstacles, we climbed under them, we crawled through mud, we hiked the hilly course in PA, we supported one another, we laughed, and we all stuck together like a true team!  Continue reading

Patriotism looks good on athletes!

In honor of celebrating the fourth of July this past weekend, I am linking up with The Blonder Side of Life today for the Secret Blogger link up that has a special theme of independence!

Ever since a young age, we play sports representing a local business or our town, as we grow up we represent our high schools and colleges, and some even move on to represent their city or state, and the elite ones represent our country.

There is no doubt there is patriotism in sports. So in honor of Independence Day last week, check out some great shots of athletes showing their American pride!  Continue reading