What it Takes to be an Elite Group Fitness Instructor

On the first day of the group fitness instructor’s class I took at InfoFit in Vancouver in June 2019, my instructor said, “There are many mediocre instructors, but the elite instructors are the ones who are very busy and well sought after.” 

Teaching fitness is a lot of fun, you get paid to work out, but if you want to be the best, then you have to put the work into it. He then posed the following question to us: “You have to decide: do you want to be a mediocre instructor, or do you want to be an elite instructor?”

Even though I haven’t been teaching fitness classes since the COVID lockdowns began, I still keep this in the back of my mind because, at some point in the future, I’d like to get back into teaching fitness classes.

So, what differentiates an elite group fitness class instructor from a mediocre one? An elite group fitness class instructor does the following:

1.   She makes every participant feel welcome, regardless of that person’s fitness level.

2.  Creates an environment that is positive, inclusive, and promotes team-spirit. Instructors who set realistic, relevant goals for all participants and encourages them to work towards achieving those goals as a group, enhances participant adherence as well as enjoyment.

3.  Provides progressions and regressions of every exercise to accommodate participants of all fitness levels and encourages them to listen to their bodies.

4.  Puts participants first and isn’t simply getting paid to do his or her own work outs.

5.  Offers corrective feedback whenever necessary, but does so without singling out a participant and always follows up with a word of encouragement.

6.  Is well prepared, on time (or, if possible, at least a half an hour early for set-up), and enthusiastic.

7.  Doesn’t gossip about other instructors, leaves all personal problems outside of the classroom, and doesn’t choose favourites.

8.  Dresses appropriately and never wears clothing that is too revealing (like those short-shorts or low-cut sports bras), too baggy, or dirty.

9.  Uses music that is motivating and appropriate for the type of fitness class being taught, but not jacked up to a level where the instructor has to yell in order to be heard.

10. Checks all equipment that’s being used and removes any equipment that may be defective.

11. Always has a back-up plan just in case things go wrong. For example: the power goes out during or before class, the sound system doesn’t work, or it rains on the scheduled day of an outdoor boot camp.

Teaching fitness classes can be a heck of a lot of fun, but with it comes much preparation and experience.

So, in answer to my instructor’s question: ‘Do you want to be a mediocre instructor or an elite instructor?’ I most definitely want to be an elite group fitness class instructor. That’s because I’m passionate about health and fitness, but also because I firmly believe that everyone has a right to participate in a fitness program of their choice and feel like they belong. 

I want to motivate and inspire others to enjoy physical activity (both inside and outside of the gym) and perceive their fitness goals as a lifelong journey of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle as opposed to just simply getting a toned and leaner body. I also want people to see exercise as means to learn new skills, forge new friendships, alleviate stress, and to just have fun.

An individual’s personal satisfaction and level of enjoyment with my future exercise programs will be well worth the effort I put into it.

 

5 Ways to Enhance Creativity and Get Those Ideas Flowing Once Again

It’s fun to just let your imagination go and see how it fuels your creativity. There is nothing more satisfying and liberating than to see the fruits of your labor – your creativity brought to life –, especially if it’s much to the satisfaction of others.

However, as creative as we can be, our muse doesn’t fire up every day or every time we want it to. It can be that way for days, weeks, or even months for that matter. There are a number of reasons why we experience ‘dry creativity’ spells – meaning periods of time in our life where we’re feeling unmotivated, uninspired, exhausted, and unable to keep up with the fast pace of our western culture. At the end of the day, we’re left with a void of creative thought. Stress, illness, and/or over-busy schedules are the most common factors.

The good news is this: There are ways you can break those barriers holding you back, unleash your imagination, and re-immerse yourself in a regular flow of creative ideas, regardless of what you’re currently going through in life.

1. Take time for prayer and meditation.

Carve out time in your daily schedule, regardless of how packed it is, and devote it to prayer, or any other type of meditation. Whatever you prefer. Prayer holds so much power because it helps declutter your mind and it releases you from all the daily stressors that weigh you down. When your mind is at rest, that’s when you are able to think much more clearly. It’s in those moments when the best, most creative ideas come to mind. Be sure to keep a journal on hand.

2. Walk or hike on a regular basis.

Get outside when the weather is nice and explore nature — or at least your neighborhood — on foot at least a couple of times per week. Walking is a way to be physically active, but it’s also a way to declutter your mind and minimize stress.

As you walk, breathe in that fresh air, feel the warmth – or coldness – of it on your skin, and take notice of your surroundings. What do you see? Hear? Smell? How does it make you feel? Let your senses be your guide. They are enough to ignite imagination which fuels creativity.

3. Read lots of books.

Books are your best friend, especially if you’re really stuck for ideas. Read non fiction and self-help books on the subject matters that interest you the most. These types of books are what gives us knowledge. The more knowledge you have on more than one subject matter, the more you’ll stimulate that creative muse. That’s because great ideas are born with great knowledge.

Don’t forget to read for pleasure as well. There is nothing more satisfying and relaxing than being engrossed in a phycological thriller or suspense novel on a lazy evening. You get the point. You also never know where a fresh idea might come to mind.

4. Take an online course.

Are you looking for a way to take your creative skills to the next level? There are numerous courses online. The options are endless. You have your pick of the following: Writing, photography, sketching, fine art, digital art, design, crafts making, jewelry making, and more.

By taking a course, you give yourself the opportunity to expand your knowledge of your chosen craft. It also gives you a chance to hone and further expand your skillset. This is especially important if you’re keen on earning an income from your craft.

Courses range in price from free to thousands of dollars. This is great because it gives you an option to take a course without having to break the bank account. In any case, it’s well worth the investment.

5. Experience Life

 Yes, get out and live! Embrace all that life has to offer, including the bad moments.

Life experience is most important because it has the biggest impact on our creative muse. Certain experiences can fuel creativity, or they can send you on an entirely different path in life; one that you’ve never considered before.

For example, the lockdowns in 2020 forced you to shut down your fitness classes and you haven’t been able to re-launch your classes since, so you’ve decided to attend fitness classes as a participant. That fuels your desire to start writing articles on health and fitness. You never know where that will lead you and what opportunities will present themselves in the near future.

We’ve all gone through so much hardship over the past two years, it’s easy to get battered down by all the trauma. However, if you take time to reflect on your experiences over these past two years, you can turn things around. Your pain can become your greatest creative asset; one that will set you on a path to healing while helping others along the way.

A word of caution: Tell only a couple of trusted friends about your ideas. A good friend will always encourage you in whatever endeavor you pursue. A bad friend will stamp out those great ideas and your creativity along with it because they will sow seeds of doubt in your mind. It happens time and again. That’s why it’s not a bad thing to be a little guarded.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to enhancing creativity. As mentioned, creativity ebbs and flows. You can follow all five of these steps. Whatever works best for you. How you overcome a dry creativity spell is entirely up to you. Where there is a will, there is always a way.

SMART Goals for Weight Loss

Now that it’s spring, summer is just around the corner. If you haven’t done so already, you’re probably wondering – and fretting – about how you’re going to lose weight and tone up in time for the warm weather. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Just like anything else, however, weight loss takes grit, determination, hard work, and perseverance.

Some fitness pros and ‘so-called’ nutritionists will claim that a certain diet or exercise program will guarantee results within 30 days. We’ve all heard of those fad diets, right? While that may work for some people, especially those lucky ones who were blessed with a naturally high metabolism, it doesn’t work for many people and you’ll only set yourself up for failure if you try to set those goals for yourself.

A much more realistic approach to weight loss is to set SMART goals for yourself. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable (or achievable), realistic, and time-bound.

Specific

You study yourself in the mirror and you don’t like the shape of the person staring back at you. Don’t despair because you are definitely not alone. We all do this from time to time because we’re our own worst critics.

However, a desire to lose some weight and tone up isn’t a bad thing either. So, while you study your reflection, you decide that, in order to feel better about yourself and to feel better in general, you need to lose about 25 pounds. Now you need to figure out how you are going to lose the 25 pounds. What specific steps are you going to take in order to achieve this goal?

Pick up your journal and write up a plan. If you’re really stuck for ideas of how to start your weight-loss journey, consult a personal trainer. A personal trainer will be able to give you the guidance you need in order to succeed. However, if you don’t have the funds to pay a personal trainer, read books on fitness and nutrition.

Measurable

Now that you’ve made a written plan and have embarked on your weight-loss journey, how are you going to measure your progress?

Many people will photo document their progress by taking before and after photos. A word of caution here: Do keep your goals in mind, but don’t let the ‘results’ dominate your thoughts. Instead, focus on the journey and celebrate each milestone you reach, however small it is. Remember that fitness is a lifelong journey. It won’t end once you reach your weight loss goals.

Other than photos, you can also keep a food diary, or download an app that counts steps you’ve taken or calories you’ve burned during a fitness class. These are great ways of measuring your progress also because they enable you to track what works and what doesn’t work for you.

You can, and should, weigh yourself at least once a week and record everything in your journal. Just be mindful not to become obsessed with the scale.

Attainable

How will you know when you have attained — or achieved — your goals? What does 25 pounds lighter look like and feel like to you?

This is where photos do come in handy. You can look up past photos of yourself and compare them to how you look in the present. The scale will also give you a good indication of where you are at on your weight-loss journey.

Though, keep in mind one thing: As you will also likely be incorporating strength training in your exercise routine, the scale won’t give you a completely accurate count of your weight. That is because muscle weighs more than fat.

Realistic

The best approach to your weight-loss goals is to be realistic about them. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends losing 4 to 5 pounds per month for optimal health. Granted, you can exceed that by shedding a couple of extra pounds per month without compromising your health.

Just don’t expect to lose 25 pounds in two months. Do expect that, with a nutritious diet and regular exercise, it can still take up to five months to achieve your desired results. That is actually the healthiest approach to weight loss and you will feel much better in the long run.

Time Bound

Now that we’re coming to the end of April, you think that it’s high time to hit the gym and start dieting because you want to don a bathing suit this coming summer and feel good in it. With the right diet and exercise regiment, you can realistically accomplish this goal within this time frame. How much weight you want to lose, though, will determine how hard you will have to work in order to achieve the desired results in time for summer.

When you begin your weight-loss journey, setting a time frame for your goals, whether it’s for an occasion or not, is important because it gives you more drive and purpose. It also keeps you organized and grounded.

Now, there are some things that you need to be aware of.

Weight loss isn’t as simple as you’d like to believe. The human body has its ‘sticky’ points. In other words, there are certain areas of the body that tend to accumulate more fat. For men, it’s primarily the stomach. For women, it’s the abdominals, thighs, and arms. Why us women carry more visceral fat? It’s because our bodies were designed to carry children. Those areas are the most frustrating because they are the hardest areas to lose and tone up.

Another thing to keep in mind: Weight loss and management is eighty percent diet and twenty percent exercise. If you’re exercising more than four times per week and are still having problems losing weight, chances are you are still consuming too much processed and sugary foods.

Regardless, you may feel at times like you’re not losing any weight, even with all the changes you’ve made to your diet. If and when you do feel this way, take a moment and have a word with yourself. Remind yourself that nothing worth pursuing comes easy. Also remind yourself that you are doing this for you, your own health, and for no one else. Tweak your diet and your exercise regiment if you have to, but don’t give up. You got this! You’re stronger and more capable than you think.

Working in the Heat: 6 Steps to Keep Safe

Now that spring has arrived, we are excited to spend more time outdoors, basking in the sunshine while eagerly anticipating the hotter weather to arrive. Some of us – like myself – work outdoors throughout the spring and summer months.

It’s fun to be outside in nature, engaged in work that involves physical activity, but the summer heat can be dangerous and will cause severe illness or possibly even death if you don’t take measures to ensure your safety while working. On a positive note, there are ways you can work in the heat and avoid heat stroke.

1. Wear a hat, preferably one that is wide-brimmed. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your nose, neck, and face from getting sunburnt. If you don’t have a wide-brimmed hat and prefer to wear a regular baseball cap instead, be sure to lather your face and neck with sunscreen.

2. Wear clothes that are light in colour and made of fabric that allows for ventilation. Light coloured clothing will deflect sunlight. Long sleeves and pants or capris are recommended, but if you prefer shorts and t-shirts or tank tops, be sure to put sunscreen onto your arms, shoulders, and legs as well.

3. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink at least two cups of water twenty minutes before starting work and every 10-15 minutes while working. Water that contains electrolytes is highly recommended as our bodies need enough electrolytes in order to function. Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, as well as maintain other normal bodily functions. Gatorade is a popular choice, but it contains a lot of sugar. Water that contains lemon, lime, orange slices, or a vitamin C packet are the best alternatives for electrolytes as they are all natural.

Be prepared and bring enough water to last you throughout the work day.

4. If you’re lucky enough to work near a body of water, like a lake, stream, or the ocean, there is nothing more refreshing than a quick swim on your lunch break or after the workday ends. Swimming is the best way to cool your body temperature on a hot summer day. Though, not all of us have that luxury. If you’re not working near any body of water, a cold, wet cloth applied to your face and neck every 10-15 minutes will help keep you cool.

5. Chase the shade. Before you even begin work, access the job site and decide on which tasks can be done in areas that are shady. As the sun rises, move to another shady area of the garden or job site if possible.

6. Don’t work outside during the hottest hours of the day. Begin your work day earlier and quit earlier. Morning is the best time to work outdoors as it is cooler. Mornings are also the time when we are most energetic and alert.

These tips can also be applied to when exercising in the heat. In any case, if you follow these tips, you will maximize your productivity and income earning potential. So, work smart and always keep your safety a number one priority.

The Minute Journal

Recently, the founder of Lean App Studio reached out to me after reading one of my articles on Medium and introduced me to a new app called The Minute Journal. The whole purpose of this app is to give us a dose of positivity by giving us a chance to write down everything that we are grateful for, regardless of what type of hardship we’re currently going through. It also helps us set larger and small goals for ourselves.

You can subscribe for a small yearly fee and begin each day by listing everything — even if it’s just one thing — that you are most grateful for. You can also list three main goals you want/plan to accomplish within the next year, month, week, or day.

What’s even more great about this app is that it helps you organize your priorities so that you can streamline your focus and pursue your goals one small step at a time.

I also can’t think of a better way to start each day!

Where do I come In

Just to be clear, this post is not meant to be about me. But I am sold on this app and am super excited to start using it. I will also be working with the co-founder on content development and creation with the goal to spread the word about The Minute Journal.

It’s not only about sales, it’s about helping people find new meaning and purpose in their broken lives, two things that are crucial to mental health, especially during these dark times that we’re currently living in.

If interested, check out The Minute Journal at www.theminutejournal.com. This app is currently available in the Google App store, but plans are for it to be available in the Apple app store sometime this fall.

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