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!)