Do you ever think fitness professionals work together but alone? Often a fitness department is littered with individuals who work at a variety of clubs. We are a nomadic profession - working one hour here, two hours there, three hours of in-homes, and then one more hour back at the first gym. Fitness professionals are often part of multiple departments, wearing a variety of hats, and seldom connecting within one place more than the last.
There are some fitness professionals who dabble in fitness. Teaching only 2 or 4 hours per week. We walk into the club, we teach the class, we walk out of the club and move on to the rest of our days - the full time job, the family of five, the housework. We connect closely with the 12-35 people in our classes, but aren't trying to meet other fitness professionals on our way through the halls. It is a lonely job, if you let it be.
That being the case, it's important to try to connect with people when you can. It's not easy, often taking us out of our comfort zones, but it is worthwhile to participate in the community. Fitness instructors are often seen as the faces of the gym. People recognize you at the grocery store, library, or car wash - and sometimes they say hello. Sometimes they look at you like, "Hey, I know who you are..." Those people, however, your class participants or people who watch you training a client, aren't the people I'm asking you to connect with.
I am asking you to connect with other fitness professionals, in person. You have quite a few things in common. Having someone to talk shop with is a great value for fitness professionals. Often, our friends or family do not get it. No kidding, my husband didn't understand what I meant when I said "I was cuing the class..." He asked, "What do you mean 'cuing' - to do what?" I said, "The movements on the bike." He was dumbfounded. Having never taken indoor cycle himself, nor any group exercise class, his ability to empathize with my work situations is limited.
Friendships I've made at the facility I work within are priceless. For starters, other fitness professionals understand the nerves, or jitters, involved with being a group exercise instructor. Often, my fit pro friends can one up me on a number of instances when they were, in fact, more nervous to teach a class than I ever was and knowing that little fact - is comforting. Fit pro friends can share war stories about the nitty gritty group exercise only complaints. We are our own little sub-culture of humans; and, we should be connecting with each other.
IDEAS to get to know the fit pros around you:
Arrive 10 minutes early to mingle with staff
Linger after class to meet the incoming instructor
Take another instructors class and share positive feedback afterward
Invite instructors to a Group Ex Roundtable discussion at a local coffee shop
Reach out to other clubs in the area to create a “mastermind group” of instructors to meet monthly or quarterly to discuss hot topics at each facility or professional development topics.
In fitness it isn’t ONLY about what you know. It is also about WHO you know and what you can learn from them. Other fitness instructors have incredible strengths and contributions to the practice of teaching group classes that you can, and should, be tapping into and learning from. Maybe you have your own style of squashing disruptive students or a great way to break the ice during a particularly challenging climb in cycle. Other instructors can learn from you while you learn from them, if you engage and seek professional friendships you will be rewarded!