Teaching Group Exercise: Do I Keep Going?

A lot of people have asked me if I plan on continuing to teach group exercise classes in Seattle. I don’t really know how to answer this question. The truth is, I just don’t have a burning desire to do so, but at the same time, I might miss it so much when I get there that I’ll be seeking out gyms right away. So, yeah. I don’t know. That’s about all I can tell people at the moment. Deeply fascinating, I know.

I’ve taught all of three classes since my last regular Saturday morning Step class on August 27th. I’ve taken about 7 or 8 other classes as well, but other than that, I really haven’t spent much time at the gym. Frankly, I’m okay with that. While there are a few aspects of the gym I do like (all having to do with group exercise, of course), I just can’t be bothered. The gym is smelly and full of germs and makes me feel old and fat. Sorry. But it’s true.

I didn’t always feel this way. In my heyday of teaching group fitness, with 5 regular classes on the schedule every week – I loved it. Going to the gym meant socializing with my friends and regular participants and getting terrific workouts and listening to awesome music. And even getting PAID! I was given excellent feedback from my members, supervisors, and fellow instructors alike. I was fit, happy… and dare I say… popular? Hello, confidence. I had it in spades, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Then I started feeling not so good. Quite horrible, actually. I felt exhausted and weak and could barely teach classes. I thought it all had to do with my diet, so I tried to fix it – but that just overwhelmed me and I ended up gaining lots of weight. One of my directors even told me that a member complained about me, saying that I wasn’t fit enough to teach. Yeah, that sucked. To make a long story short, it turns out that I actually was quite ill and needed treatment.

I won’t get into that right now, though. Point is, after all that drama, I dropped classes from my schedule one by one. And the more I stayed away from the gym, the more I realized that it really wasn’t for me. My inner introvert really got into running, biking, and yoga. Teaching group classes and motivating others is all well and good – but I’m not energized by that. In fact, spending too much time with other people just makes me want to take a three hour nap. Running, biking, and yoga are sometimes boring but at least I’m not accountable to anyone but myself.

Don’t get me wrong – you can’t beat the accountability required in teaching group exercise classes. Is it really so bad to get paid to exercise? No. And I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity. But I just think I’m over it now. I have a feeling I’ll look back on this whole phase five years from now and think about that crazy four years I spent teaching at the gym.

Let me just emphasize that, despite all my bitching, I don’t regret becoming a group fitness teacher one bit. I’ve met the most gracious, kindest, funniest people whom I hope to be friends with my entire life. They have supported and encouraged me through the good and not-so-good. I’ve learned a ton about myself in the process. AND I can strap on a microphone and tell 30 people to step touch and lift their knees – and 60 minutes later, they will have gotten a good, sweaty workout. If that’s not effective public speaking practice, then I don’t know what is.

Okay, this post is all over the place and I still don’t know what the resolution is. Maybe I’ll continue teaching. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see!

(This blog gets a little uncomfortably personal at times, eh? Sorry. I hope it’s not too much!)


4 thoughts on “Teaching Group Exercise: Do I Keep Going?

  1. Well I was always INCREDIBLY impressed with you, during your group teaching phase. I really looked forward to Body Attack every week and your workout contributed to at least 70% of my weight loss and toning for my wedding. I know I could never have the guts to group teach, and you were awesome. My little Daria-loving bookworm Beth turned ass-kicking group exercise instructor? Awesome. I loved it.

  2. I can relate to this post so much. Whenever I think about giving up teaching, I think about what would happen if I lost the accountability, the built in connection with friends and the extra cash. Would I end up fat and broke without any friends? Let’s be honest, probably not. Or maybe I would. Who knows. I’m curious to hear how things change for you on the left coast! It’s something you’ll always have, whether you choose to draw on those talents in the future or not. But yes, the best public speaking practice ever!

    • I like thinking of it as something that we’ll always have – that’s a great way of looking at it! And yes, public speaking – like at work or something – always makes me nervous but then I think it can’t be much worse than getting up in front of 30 people and having them stare you down, following your every movement! 🙂

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