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!

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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? 

5 Ways to Get Fitness In Without Spending Hours In The Gym

Good morning! I’m re-posting this post from a guest post blog that I wrote for my girl Sam  while she was recovering from brain surgery. Since I thought my readers over here at B2B might find it interesting and helpful, I thought it was worth a share!

If you’ve been following B2B for a while, you’re probably aware that a growing passion for me lately has been how to make fitness work for you and with your busy life. While magazines and some fitness trainers/professionals may tell you that you need to go to a gym, you need to do an hour of working out 5 times a week, etc., I realize that with a full time job, after work commitments, kids, spouses, friends, etc., that type of workout format is not always an option. Most of us don’t have the ability to do hour long workouts at a gym 3-5 times a week, right?

Here’s the thing: that’s OK! You don’t need to spend that much time at a gym in order for a workout to bee considered a workout. When I was younger and had essentially no commitments besides a 40 hour a week job and going out on the weekends, sure, I had ability to spend hours a day at the gym, but as I get older and have more things going on in my life, I just don’t have the need or want for that anymore. I want to be done my workouts in 45 minutes or less and I don’t want to have to rely on going to a gym in order to get my workout in.

There are so many ways you can still get fitness in even with a busy lifestyle, which is why I want to share my 5 favorite ways to get fitness in without spending hours in the gym.

  1. Invest in a medium set of dumbbells and a resistance band so that you can workout at home. The beauty of at-home workouts is that you eliminate the time it takes you to get to the gym and back home. Granted, some exercise programs do require a gym if you need to use a barbell and heavy weights, but if you’re just training for life and to be strong, all you need is a few sets of weights and you an achieve that in the comforts of your own home. In the spring, summer and fall I like to take my workout to my back patio! If you need inspiration for at-home workouts, check out my page, my friend Lauren’s blog and my friend Athena’s blog – combined, we have HUNDREDS to choose from.
  2. Grab a friend and take a walk, but with a twist! Instead of just walking, add in 10 squats, 10 push-ups (inclined if you can!) and 10 triceps dips every 5-10 minutes. The beauty of working out with a friend is they hold you accountable to show up and get a workout in AND it’s more fun! Plus, you can kill two birds with one stone by getting in movement and catching up with a friend or friends. If you’re a runner, you can also do this with running instead. I have some run/walk bootcamp workouts here if you’re looking for some ideas. 11542058_911614432224807_7160125865652676253_n.jpg
  3. Pick your 4 or 5 favorite exercises and do 10 reps of each for 15-20 minutes (or however long you have). This is usually what I opt for when I’m short on time and/or don’t have motivation to workout. Rather than trying to psych myself up for a 45 minute class or gym workout, if I tell myself I just need to move for 15-20 minutes AND I get to do my favorite exercises, it’s a much easier way to get me moving. For me, this usually means squats, push-ups, burpees, lunges & sit-ups because it hits all the major body parts: legs, upper body, core & cardio. Another favorite is a countdown workout where I’ll do 50 jumping jacks, 40 high knees, 30 squats, 20 push-ups and 10 burpees. I’ll do that circuit as many times in 15-20 minutes as I can.
  4. Stairs! Stairs are one of my favorite ways to get movement in while getting to be outside. I love them because there are so many different ways to use them – you can walk up and down them, jog up and down them, hop up and down them, skip stairs, wide step, etc. I usually like to do a stair circuit and then a bodyweight circuit and repeat until my allotted time is up. Check out these posts for suggestions: San Francisco Stair Workout and Stair and Total Body Circuitssf-stairs-3
  5. Find free outdoor fitness classes near where you live or work. I know that in the Boston area, there are TONS of free fitness classes happening on various days all over the city. The program with the biggest amount of free classes is called Seaport Sweat and I absolutely LOVE getting to teach two classes a week through it! You get to be outside, sweating with friends and it’s FREE – doesn’t get much better than that! If you’re not in the Boston area, I would suggest doing a quick google search because I’m sure there are similar types of free classes in other cities, too. 19417574_1470276819691896_8010372336496216580_o

There you have it! If you’re like me and don’t have the ability (or desire!) to spend hours a day in the gym but still want to be active, I hope you’ve found these suggestions for how this can be achieved helpful! Fitness doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, expensive or something you dread. For it to stick and for it to be sustainable in your life, you need to find out what works for you, and if you’re finding that the gym is just not working for you because of the time and/or money commitment it requires, I hope you try some of my suggestions in this post.

Questions for you: What’s your favorite way to get in fitness or movement without going to the gym?

Fitness Isn’t A Linear Progression

I was at the gym last week and after my run, I decided to see how my chin-ups felt. I don’t work on these nearly enough- it’s more of a “let me see what I can do today” type of thing. I think the reason WHY I don’t practice them or other exercises to assist in building up the necessary strength required to execute them in multiples is because I generally have very little time to workout. It’s usually a quickie 30-35 minutes including warm up & cool down, which, don’t get me wrong, is plenty of time for a good workout, but if I want to spend time working on various skills, it’s definitely not enough time. And right now, I care more about getting in quickie workouts than I do about working strictly on pull-ups/chin-ups, so it’s just the way it is!

But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to continue to do them when I can! In fact, we just bought a pull-up bar because I want it to be easier to practice the craft.

Last week’s chin-up experience got me thinking about fitness progressions & growth. I put this on Instagram and it got some good traction so I thought it was worthy of sharing with you guys:

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Two days ago, I struggled through a #fitin15 (@the_fueled_physique) upper body workout and I had no idea why. I wasn't using heavier weights, I wasn't Doing anything new and I wasn't tired or sore. . . Yesterday, I did a quick 1.5 mile run on the treadmill (felt easy!) and then busted out 5 chin-ups with relative ease. I haven't done these in months, yet they didn't pose nearly as big of a challenge for me as the previous day's workout. And, yes, chin-ups are a hard exercise, certainly not downplaying that! . . But it was a good reminder: fitness is not a linear progression. We don't just keep moving up and forward Day after day. Just because we can do chin-ups on day with ease doesn't mean they'll be easy the next time we try them. Just because we run 5 miles one day with ease doesn't mean the next run will be equally as good or easy. . . . With that said, I encourage you to focus on where you are TODAY. not yesterday, not where you'll be tomorrow. Focus on the now and appreciate what you can do. Be kind to yourself and know that if you keep working hard, you'll get to your goal. #realtalk #fitness #progression #progressionisntlinear #keepworking #appreciatethenow #embraceitall #acceptance #reminder #focusontoday

A post shared by Monique Gagnon- Magno (@burpeestobubbly) on

 

My experience with chin-ups just yesterday couldn’t have come at a better time because it backed up what I shared above.

Last week, chin-ups were, dare I say it, EASY. Yesterday? So far the opposite from easy. Every bit of it was a struggle, as clearly shown in the video above. For good measure, I tried some this morning (dress & heels and all!) and they were definitely much easier than they were yesterday.

All this means is that we should focus on where we are TODAY. Not yesterday, and not where we are tomorrow. Fitness isn’t a linear progression. Just because we could do something so well yesterday or last week, doesn’t mean that we will pick up right where we left off when we try it next. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that because there are so many factors that go into our physical strengths on any particular day: how much sleep we got, how rested we feel, whether we are stressed, what time of the  month it is, what we are focused on, etc. All of these things play a role in how we are able to move on any particular day.

So, next time you’re feeling down because you weren’t able to run as far, run as fast, swim as long, lift as heavy, knock out as many pull-ups, just remember that it doesn’t mean you’ve lost strength or that you’re weak or that you need to work harder, longer, etc. at getting better. Sure, practice does always help, but all the practice in the world does not mean that your fitness experience and growth will be a linear progression. Instead of getting beat down because today you can’t do what you did last week, focus on where you are today, appreciate that and keep working on the skill. Maybe take a second to think about what outside factors are going on that could contribute to less energy or strength in your workout, because that could bring some clarity to it.

I’d love to hear what you have to say about fitness progressions- do you find yourself being able to do something one week and the next week find it much harder? How do you handle these situations? Do you get upset or take it for what it is and just keep going/practicing/etc.? What’s something that is always a struggle for you in the gym? How do you work at it?

 

 

When you only have 10 minutes to workout

The other week, I had 10 minutes to workout. The day was crazy so I wasn’t able to go at lunch and then I had to teach after work. I had planned on taking the class before mine, but traffic was so bad that I missed it. After my class, there was literally 10 minutes before the next event started, so I just got to work doing what I could in that time. By the time 10 mins was up, I was sweating and felt like I had gotten in a pretty decent workout.

I shared this tip with a friend who was talking to me about how she’s struggling to find time to workout since she’s had a baby, even though she knows that it’s exactly what she needs to do. When I told her to just start with 10 mins, maybe 3x per week, she said it made it seem so much more DOABLE, rather than thinking she needed to spend an hour in the gym 5 times a week.

The thing is, if we have this mindset that we need to do X days for X minutes/hours per day, it’s daunting, overwhelming and quite frankly, setting us up for “failure” (or at least that’s how we may feel, even though that’s not the case). It’s hard to keep that up! And what happens when we only get in 30 minutes of working out 4 times in a week, rather than the hour a day for 5 days? We feel like we didn’t do enough. That we can’t keep up on our goals. That our hard work has gone to waste. We feel like “what’s the point in tomorrow’s workout? I’ve already messed up?”

I don’t know about you, but that’s no fun to me. That, and I don’t want anyone to feel like they “messed up” or “failed” because they didn’t get in X amount of workouts per week. Shit happens, life happens, things unexpectedly take up our time. And you know what? IT’S NO BIG DEAL! If working out/getting movement in is a priority and part of your lifestyle, a few days off- or even a week off- is not the end of the world. And in this case, 10 minutes is certainly better than nothing.

Actually, 10 minutes is always better than nothing. 5 minutes is better than nothing. 1 minute of big belly breaths to center your thoughts is better than nothing.

We are all busy, so doesn’t it sound so much better and easier to just have to focus on getting in 10 minutes of exercise? Bonus? If you get 15 in you’re feeling REALLY good! On top of the physical benefits that movement has, the mental benefits are also huge. When I’m stressed or feeling overwhelmed, sad, etc., movement usually helps turn things around. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, and in fact, often times when we are filled with high emotions (good, bad, etc), a lighter movement choice is often even better for us- think: long walk, nice bike ride, gentle yoga flow, stretching, etc.

At the end of the day, though, we all have 10 minutes in our day 3-5 days a week that we can dedicate to movement- and that movement can be whatever YOU need/want on any particular day. Wondering how you can find those 10 minutes? Scroll through social media one less time during the day, watch one less TV episode, do something while you’re on the phone (I always call my mom when I go for walks!)… these are just a few of the things that I know suck up my time during the day, which may differ for you.

I promise, if you’re struggling with keeping a consistent workout regimen, take a closer look at why. Is the regimen too intense or too time consuming? Does it always require you finding time to go to a class or to the gym? Does it require too much equipment? Is it too expensive? Once you pinpoint what’s holding you back, think about ways you can  fix it. If the workouts you have planned are too long- decide on 10 minutes 3 times a week. That probably seems WAY MORE doable, right? If you don’t have the proper equipment at home or don’t like using all the equipment at the gym, start with finding bodyweight exercises! I’ve got tons to choose from 😉 Too expensive? Google “free fitness in X city” and I bet you’ll find so many- with Seaport Sweat in Boston this summer, there are over 8 classes a week to choose from!

Working out doesn’t have to be- and quite frankly, shouldn’t be- a huge issue/inconvenience/weight on your shoulders. Let’s be real, we don’t have time for that. Once I started letting go of “fitness rules” and comparing myself to others (usually those who have fitness as their full time gig and generally have more time & convenience to workout and do fancy things), it all seemed so much easier, so much more doable. And at this point, if I can only fit in 10 minutes, I focus on the fact that I was able to do that rather than beating myself up because I didn’t do more. I challenge you to do the same- your self worth is not measured by how many minutes you spend working out or in the gym- life is too short for that.

 

Questions for you: Do you have “fitness rules” in terms of what constitutes a workout? How long is your standard workout? Do you alternate between high intensity and low intensity?

Five on Friday {1.27.16- LOTS of fitness-related events!}

Good morning and Happy Friday- After a bit of a rough week, I am very happy to finally say TGIF! I have lots of fitness events to share with you today, so I hope you enjoy them!

  • Resolution by PMC Tonight, I am heading over to Everybody Fights to participate in this year’s Resolution by PMC fundraising event. If you are interested in donating to this amazing cause (100% of the proceeds go to the Dana-Farber cancer research institute), please head on over to my page.

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  • MoveWith Class at Janji On Wednesday, February 8th I will be hosting another class at Janji’s popup store on Newbury Street. Similar to last time, it will be a 45 minute kickboxing bootcamp. You can sign up here. Hope to see some of you there!

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  • Save the Date!- On Wednesday, March 29th I’m going to be hosting another MoveWith event… this time it’ll be a (hopefully!) much bigger event with a live DJ and free food and drink samples with companies I work with. I am SO excited about this, but you’ll have to wait a bit for more details 😉
  • Cycle for Survival Next weekend, I will be participating in the Cycle for Survival fundraising event at Equinox. This event is really amazing because 100% of the funds raised go to cancer research for rare forms of cancer, which receives far less funding than the more well-known cancers. If you’re able and interested, you can donate here and if you want to ride you can register here. I’ll be riding as part of the New Balance team and am so honored to be a part of this!
  • Winter fitness series event- This Sunday, I will be teaching an hour long cardio kickboxing class at Legacy Place. The class is FREE and registration is not required, but it is recommended. You can sign up here.

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This weekend should be more lowkey than last weekend, which I am greatly welcoming! We are going skiing tomorrow and then Sunday I’m teaching and then it’s time to buckle down and focus on finishing up my re-certification for my AFAA cert. I hope all of you have a great weekend!

Questions for you: Do you ski? Where do you ski around here? Do you have any fitness events coming up? What’s on the agenda for the weekend?