Erica Barker is a group fitness instructor, mom, and blogger. She wrote a post that I bet will resonate with each and every one of you. Her example isn’t about teaching cycling, but it sure applies to us cycling instructors! Erica gave me permission to repost her article below, and you can read her original post and follow her on her blog here.
Thank you, Erica, for putting into words what so many of us are feeling! Feel free to share this with other instructors, and even with your students! Sometimes they need a reminder about what we go through to bring them their one class of fun, sweat, and tears.
Today is devoted to group fitness instructors. The awesome people that are paid a small wage to be rock stars, except without the tour bus and the bodyguards. The one hour they devote out of their week to ensure that YOU get a kick-ass workout.
An hour??? Well, no not really. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Here is what a fitness instructor’s “time” looks like.
There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into teaching a group fitness class, especially freestyle classes. We spend HOURS and HOURS preparing ourselves to deliver a class that is safe, fun, effective and at the same time connect with our members to keep them wanting to come back to class.
So for me personally, here is what my process looks like. I will use prepping for Les Mills BodyPump as an example:
- We receive our quarterly releases via digital download. (Takes forever to download!)
- I watch the choreography DVD first. Then again as I go through it while reading the notes.
- Listen to the music and follow along in my head with the notes.
- This process usually repeats itself over and over 5 or 6 times before I can get it in my head to deliver the choreography successfully without notes or the DVD. (Keep in mind that from top to bottom the class runs approximately 50 minutes without breaks to change weights.) That is already 6 hours right there and I haven’t even done it physically yet.
- Physical run through of entire release. Add one more hour (maybe an hour and a half if I am dying). 🙂
- Now that I “might” have it in my head, I have to script my intros so I don’t sound like an idiot.
- Research and read the educational materials provided.
- Constant listening to the music in my car to and from school.
- Listening at home with my earbuds on every chance I get and mentally going through the choreography in my head while my family fights for my attention.
“Hey Mom!” Alana says as she is jumping up and down waving her arms at me. “What’s for supper?”
It’s already 6:30 pm and I have NO meat thawed.
“Shit. Well, looks like we are going out for Chinese”…my brain needed a break anyway.
So after about a WEEK of sleeping and breathing the newest BodyPump release, I am ready to present it to my class. Sometimes in its entirety and sometimes in bits and pieces. ONE HOUR. Done. What???? All that work for one hour class? Yes. All that work for one hour class. Why? Because we love it. Because we want to give you the BEST group fitness experience possible. Because we want to help others reach their personal goals. Sometimes because we are crazy. 🙂
That is just one example of what we REALLY do. Did I mention I have 2 more formats that I learn at the SAME TIME???? You can do the math. Triple the above.
Being a fitness instructor is hard work. We give up our personal time outside of class. We have come in and taught SICK, TIRED, INJURED, SAD, ANGRY, STRESSED, and so on. But you may not know it. That one hour is NOT about us. It is about YOU. We wipe our feet at the door and give you what you came for. Sometimes, it actually is the best therapy in the world so we have YOU to thank every time we teach. It is frustrating at times, though, when you do all this work to prep and class numbers are low or people don’t show up when they said they would. Empty bike syndrome……ugh!!!
I love my staff at the Y. They truly do not get the recognition they deserve sometimes. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! Brielle, Bailey, Ruth, Monica, Mary, Kerry, Kiri, Angie, Nancy, Buddy, and so many other instructors that have come and gone. You are appreciated.
So the next time you take a class from your favorite instructor…..please thank them, it might just put a smile on their face if they had a bad day.
Omg you nailed it!!!!! 💪🏼👍🏼👏🏻.
Well said Erica – Thank YOU! Your blog brings back memories of when I use to teach Body Pump – those were some of the most stressful days of my life and the person with the worst sense of beat would always stand right in front of me. It was such a struggle to not get thrown off.
I work hours on my spins and strength classes and I change my profile weekly – gosh we do work hard don’t we?
Thanks for sharing this with us Jennifer.
Erica….thank you for putting thoughts that we all have into words. Some playlists come together easier than others, but each and every one takes thought, time, mapping, goal planning, and a lot of listening to music. It’s a huge investment that the riders do not understand. When I see the riders loving the class profile, riding safely, challenging themselves, and encouraging each other to do great things, it makes it all worth it. The high fives, the “you’re awesome”, the “that was the best class ever”…..it makes me want to do it all over again. Thanks!
This post comes at the perfect time because over the past two days, I’ve been nearly 5 hours working on my latest ride profile. By the time I finished I was asking myself why I just put all of that time into a ride that will last all but 45 minutes and likely reach just 10-15 people (small studio). Yet as I was listening to the music in its entirety, I could picture my rider’s faces, glistening with sweat as they push themselves beyond their limits. That’s what makes it all worth it and that’s why I love it!
I am glad you enjoyed the read and thank you to Jennifer for posting it on this page! I am honored! THANK you instructors for all that you do! A lot of passion and heart goes into what we do.
Thank YOU Erica for writing it! It has been a big hit, with about 50 shares on FB and many thousands of views on our FB page! Thanks for allowing me to reprint it here.
I’m inspired to write something similar specifically for indoor cycling instructors, as we have our own specific issues we get hung up on!