The Fitness Zone
So you’re interested in a career in fitness, but not sure whether teaching group exercise or being a Personal Trainer would suit you better? Mickie du Boulay, Australian Institute of Fitness NSW Fitness Guest Coach gives some insight.
“And get ready for double time... In 4, 3, 2, 1...” Yes, Group Exercise Instructors probably look like they are totally in the moment and having a great time (and we usually are), but believe me when I tell you that before we even show up at the gym, we spend hours compiling the perfect playlist, attending workshops to get the latest choreography and rehearsing in front of the mirror before that all important performance, known as your fitness class.
Then there is the necessary meticulous attention to one’s appearance; only the latest gear and not a bra strap out of place will do, in preparation for all of those eyes that will soon be focused on YOU. Sounds like a lot of pressure? It is, but it is also the BIGGEST BUZZ, the most fun and a fabulous way of keeping fit.
Not that it is all about you and your workout, in fact, what makes a really great Group Exercise Instructor is the understanding that we are there to provide safe, effective exercise and a motivating experience for our class participants, not merely entertainment. Sure, the job definitely attracts the sort of person who has a bit of a stage persona, but if the opportunity to properly educate and inspire people to enjoy exercise is what you are all about, then this could be the job for you.
No, it isn’t all about grapevines. There are so many types of programs you could choose to teach, depending on what types of exercise you most enjoy, from High Energy to Mind and Body, from highly choreographed to zero choreography.
The thing to remember that what your participants expect from you is ENERGY and CONFIDENCE. They want to follow you and no matter how many classes you may have already taught that day, to the participant their class is all that matters, so even if your legs are still aching from the last class, be prepared to dazzle and smile like it was the first class of the day. “Oh what a feeling”!
Being a Personal Trainer is in many ways the same – you need to remain fresh from one session to the next and have a genuine desire to educate, inspire and help others, but the skill set is slightly different in that you now need to be able to get your client to perform for you, rather than you needing to perform for them, which is why inspiration is a huge part of a trainer's role.
You may be knowledgeable, skilled, and/or physically fit, but can you get into the mindset of other people and motivate them consistently to be the best version of themselves? Getting your client to finish those last few reps of a tough exercise is no easy feat. Not everyone responds well to a drill sergeant training style, while others hate to be coddled, so finding a balance of motivational skills that are unique to you and your clients is going to be vital to your success in this field.
Mixing it Up
It is of course entirely possible to be both a great Group Exercise Instructor and an awesome PT. Having worked in both roles alongside one another for many years, I have to say that I enjoy the variety and challenge of taking off one cap and putting on another. I love my personal training clients and the time I spend with them, but having to maintain the flow and performance of the group class is exciting and rewarding.
I see no reason to have to choose between these two incredible job roles when they are so easily combined. The most important thing is that the role feels natural to your particular personality type. Do you like being out in front of people or do you prefer to work in more of a private one on one setting? Perhaps, like me, you just love people and exercise in which case, the world is your oyster!