The Top 10 Things that Every Group Fitness Instructor Wished their Participants Knew
We GFIs (Group Fitness Instructors) have your best interests at heart, we promise!
1. We love you!
We are forever grateful when you show up, work hard, have fun, and keep coming back. The biggest compliment you can give us is returning to class and bringing a friend. Thank you for the love!
2. We would like you to be present for the WHOLE class.
We design our classes with our training in mind, and we bring you what works. Think you don't have to warm up? Please reconsider. Your body takes 5-15 minutes to be ready for the exercises you will be doing in class. The movement prep (this is the new name for "the warm-up" by the way!) is vital for preventing injury and preparing the body.
Want to skip out of the cool down and final stretch so you can put your equipment away before the rest of the masses do? Please don't. Not only is it a huge distraction to your fellow classmates, it is unsafe for your body and those around you. Tripping on a dumbbell because you're carrying your bench to the storage closet is a costly price to pay for saving a few minutes of time. And just as the body needs to warm up, it needs to cool down, particularly if you have just completed an intense workout, so you can avoid venous blood pooling. Blood pooling is no joke and causes all sorts of un-fun stuff like dizziness and fainting. No thanks! May I also add that cool-down stretching feels SO GOOD after a workout? Why would you want to skip that? It's like the icing on the cake. Your muscles deserve a nice, deep stretch after you've worked them so hard, so be nice to them and give them what they're craving.
3. Being present for the whole class also means practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness means being fully present and aware of what you're doing. This means phones should be put away, side discussions should simmer down, and eyes and ears should be focused on what is happening in class. We know you are adults with responsibilities, and we respect that. But we also know that we work hard to bring you quality exercise, have important alignment cues to give, and we like it when you respect us as well. Have you ever tried to put your phone on Airplane Mode for the one hour of class to just focus on YOU for a moment? Have you tried to fully engage so you can have the best workout ever? Try it! It's very freeing!
4. We are not judging you - we are proud of you!
If I had a dime for every time someone said, "I'm going to try this dance-cardio class, but I'm not coordinated, so please don't judge me!" or "I'm going to try this strength-based class, but I'm weak, so don't look at the weights I pick up!" or "I'm really inflexible, so please don't laugh when you see how un-bendy I am when we stretch..." Girl! Please! We are just glad you came, are giving it a go, and working on YOU. It takes guts to attend a class that is out of your comfort zone, and we respect that and respect you. Our job is to help you, teach you, and make you feel comfortable, never judge you.
5. We want you to stick it out.
Speaking of trying new classes that are out of your comfort zone... we want to let you know that, though you may feel like an epic failure and you feel like you just want to pack up your stuff and high-tail it out of class, PLEASE try to stick it out. Many people who leave in the middle of class do so because they are embarrassed that they cannot keep up with what is happening in class. We feel you. We get it. It doesn't feel comfortable. But literally every person in that room has been in your shoes. And you only get better by coming back and trying it again. Also, here's a secret... everyone is looking at their own dang selves in the mirror - they are not looking at you. There. I said it. No one really cares what you are doing! I promise! The one person who cares about what you are doing is the instructor, and s/he is just glad to see you giving it your best shot.
6. We are humans.
Sometimes we are going to mess up, sometimes we are going to be off our game, sometimes we rip our pants in the middle of class, and sometimes something weird comes out of our mouths when we're trying to cue the words "squat and pulse"... Thank you for giving us some grace to mess up and forgive us when we do. We roll with the punches and we thank you for rolling with us. We extend that grace to you, too, when you are having a bad day or not feeling like yourself.
7. Because we are humans, we have feelings, too.
And because people are people, and people can unintentionally (and intentionally) be hurtful or rude, we have developed thick skins in our industry, but that doesn't mean that we don't have feelings and take what you say to heart. Please be kind - we appreciate it!
8. We are not doctors.
Since we are not doctors, nurses, or physical therapists (unless we are in our "other lives"), we cannot dole out any medical advice. Seriously, we LEGALLY CANNOT give you counsel. If you ask us about something hurting, we will tell you that you should see your doctor. We are not trying to brush you off - we just literally cannot tell you anything else.
9. And we are not nutritionists.
Again, unless we have that as another side gig, we are not nutritionists. Sure, we are in the health and fitness field, and many of us are passionate about nutrition - we'll even tell you the names of our favorite supplements and ways of eating, but we cannot legally put you on a nutrition plan if we are just straight up GFIs.
10. But we can offer you some good therapy.
...in the form of exercise and endorphins and a shoulder to cry on. I swear that group exercise is one of the best forms of therapy. Feeling sad? Try a Group Ex class. Feeling lonely? There's 20+ people shakin' they butts in the studio. Feeling stressed? We have a yoga mat with your name on it, honey. Come get all the therapy you need.