Passion for group exercise

I said something to myself when I first started teaching group exercise, ie: strength, Zumba, hiit, and so on. Those words were, “I’ll do this until I don’t love it anymore. The day I don’t enjoy it, I’ll simply stop.”

So I’ve been teaching now for about 3 years and so far I’m enjoying most classes. However, there are some times that I don’t look forward to a class. These are classes where I catch myself looking at the clock, and consciously thinking about what to do next. It doesn’t flow or come naturally, when that happens, that one hour becomes really, really long, and it really becomes a drag.

I gave up a few classes over the past year because I simply wasn’t looking forward to it or enjoying them. I’ve always said that if you are doing group fitness, you must love it, otherwise how can you convey that love and passion for fitness to your participants? This is especially true when it comes to Zumba, you can kind of work your way around the other formats, but zumba is all about fun, and if you ain’t feeling it, it just doesn’t work.

I had one group who was particularly upset that their instructor left the gym. I stepped in to take over, and the first thing I noticed upon arriving was that for a Saturday class, this group was significantly smaller than I was used to. I knew that a bunch of them were out in protest of his leaving and didn’t even give me a chance. The ones who did come, well, they weren’t giving me the type of energy and vibe that one comes to expect from a zumba class. I equated it to dating a woman who was still in love with her last boyfriend. She’s dating you, but never really giving you a chance because he’s still in the forefront of her mind.

I really tried to give these folks a great class, and though some warmed up to me over the summer, the vibe in there was cold and not particularly fun for me. I really started to dread having to go there, so I gave up that entire Saturday morning slot, 3 classes. I reached out to the former instructor and asked him if he wanted it back, he never replied, but I had heard he did, so I let him know that I was giving it up. And that was that.

I’m not a hypocrite, and I can’t pretend I’m enjoying something if I am not. So rather than providing my people with some sub par, unmotivated classes, I gave those classes up. Another thing is that I don’t sub groups where I don’t enjoy myself either. If a group doesn’t like you, and they don’t reciprocate the energy you bring, it really becomes a drag. It’s hard to teach when you are looking into a group of participants who doesn’t seem to be enjoying your class or themselves.

Some folks have told me that you have to win them over and get them to like you no matter what. I’ll try a few times, but like I said, I can’t fake this shit. Again, this is especially true when it comes to Zumba.

I’m fortunate that this is a part time gig for me, I do have a day job. So I have the luxury to simply walk away if I’m not loving it. I do see some instructors who are trapped because they are doing this as their primary source of income. They take whatever classes come up, but they lack the passion, drive, and they are not doing this out of love. They are doing it for a paycheck. Those instructors suck and their classes suck. If you don’t love it, we know.

In my opinion, when it comes to group fitness, love it or leave it.


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Angel Rodriguez

Angel covers fitness, social issues, reviews, news & more! He's a veteran, tech and fitness pro which has been featured on Huffpo, NatGeo, NPR, NY1, HLN, Men's Fitness, MTV, & other major platforms. Angel is also Brazilian Jiujitsu White belt.
Angel Rodriguez

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