The Biggest Misconception When It Comes to Teaching Fitness

As I look back on summer, I realize that I taught a lot of classes. Some weeks I was teaching 6-8 classes a week, and sometimes 3 of those in 1 day. On top of an 8-9 hour “real” work day. And a workout of my own. It was exhausting at times, but I never really minded because teaching gives me so much energy and I always love getting to help people work towards their goals. That, and a lot of classes were outdoor classes so it was just nice to get to be outside!


But, when people would ask what I was doing for the week and I would tell them that I was teaching X classes, 9 times out of 10, I would get this response:

“Wow! You get paid to workout- that’s so cool!”

And, while I used to fall more true to that statement because I would pretty much do the whole workout with the class when I first started teaching, over the years as I’ve grown and evolved as a fitness instructor, that statement is not really very true anymore.

Although I do jump around and demo exercises, I am not DOING the exercises. I am not getting in all the reps, lifting my heaviest or pushing myself the way I do when I do my own workout. In other words, I am not getting in MY workout.

Why? Because the class is not for me. It is not my time to workout. What the time is, though, is my chance to help others get in a workout. If I’m doing the whole workout with them, how can I see what everyone is doing? Or, how can I ensure I’m giving appropriate coaching cues or corrections? Sure, I do bits and pieces to show people how to correctly execute an exercise, showing modifications up or down, jumping around to get people pumped up or joining them for the last few reps or seconds to keep them pushing to the end, but I am not doing even 25-30% of the workout with them (unless it’s kickboxing – I tend to do more of the workout with them since it’s easier for them to follow along to the combinations).

So when people think that I’m working out a ton because I’m teaching 6-8 classes a week, it’s really not the case. In fact, I tend to get in fewer of my OWN workouts when I teach a lot because I have less time to get them in. If I’m working 8-9 hours and then need to drive (sometimes 45 minutes) to go teach for a few hours, the last thing I want to do is my own workout. True story. What ends up ¬†happening is I do quickie 20 minute workouts. Is it ideal? Do they help me get closer to the fitness goals I have? No, not really. But it keeps me moving, it keeps me active and something is always better than nothing!

And today, what I do in the classes will likely be my “workout” since I have to work, train someone during lunch and then teach back to back classes after work. Sure, I could wake up at 5am to workout or workout after my last class, but I know neither of those things are in my best interest since it’s a long enough day as it is.

Wondering about a few other misconceptions about fitness instructors that come to mind to me?

  • That we always want to workout – while I do love working out, I don’t always want to do it!
  • That we always want to teach – again, while I love teaching so much, there are some days where I would just rather do my own workout or just go home to relax. But, once I get started, I’m always fine. The energy from the members helps push me when I need it!
  • That working out is easy for us – we get lots of practice doing things, and we aren’t going to teach something that we haven’t practiced so that’s why things look easier for us!
  • That we know everything when it comes to working out – I cringe when I see some trainers in the gym when it comes to how they’re training someone or how they’re demo’ing the exercises. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do everything right, but I work really hard to practice those things to make sure that I am doing my best to teaching and demo correctly.
  • That we don’t need/want trainers – sometimes the last thing I want to do is create my OWN workout, so I love looking to other fitness professionals for workout suggestions.

I’d love to hear from you! What’s something you think of when you think of fitness instructors? Do you think any of the things I talked about in this post?¬†