Recently, a woman at the gym came over and asked me, “Why do you train so hard?” We are all in here doing the same movements, but you sweat so much more, and you seem to be making yourself struggle more? Why do you do that to yourself?
I looked at her, smiled, and did my best to explain. In my mind, it makes zero sense for me to go into the gym, spend hours pedaling, stepping, rowing, jumping, lifting, punching and kicking like an animal if I’m doing it halfheartedly. It doesn’t make sense for me to simply go through the motions if I’m not putting in the maximum effort to make it count. If you can’t look at me, and immediately tell that I train, then in my head, there is a problem. When you see me, I want you to think, “Wow, he really put in the work, I can see it.”
Now that’s how I felt before I became a group fitness instructor. It has been the approach that I took from the moment that I committed to get back in shape. Now that I am an instructor, that story changes quite a bit. You see, all those things I said before apply, but now, I am supposed to set and be the standard. I’m the guy who stands in front of a room full of up to 80 people, and I’m supposed to motivate them, I’m supposed to lead them, I’m supposed to make them want to work hard! How can I do that if I am a slacker? How can I inspire you to want to be great, if I am mediocre?
When I take another instructor’s class, I hold them to the same standard. If I find that they are lacking in that mindset, I will not return to the class. I want you to give me your heart, I want you to pour it all out, I want you to inspire me. Otherwise, I don’t need you as a coach.
When I take a class, the participants are watching me and what I do, if I quit, how can I tell them not to quit? You see, for me, this goes to a whole new level now. It’s a great thing, because in addition to my own ways, I now have the weight of my commitment to them as an added motivational tool. I want to be the best version of me that I can be, for me, and for you!
One of my friends seemed to take issue with what I was saying, her view is that she respects all instructors by default because this is a tough job. This was in response to a post where I said, “If I don’t train hard, how can you respect me as an instructor?”
As instructors, we have a unique vantage point that the participants in our classes do not. As such we can understand that this job is not easy. It takes practice, dedication, financial commitments, and we know that simply going up on stage takes a lot courage. You are put in a very visible and vulnerable position. It definitely takes a special kind of person to do this. I’ve spoken in the past about some of the tough and mean crowds that we have to win over, especially when starting at a new gym.
In fact, I experienced this last night in a room full of rowdy participants who weren’t really paying attention to the new instructor, me. They challenged me, and I had to earn their respect, and I did that through hard work. I put them through the ringer, I ran from one end to the other, ensuring that no one quit, and I made them work! After class, they asked me when I was coming back. Get it?
This is not an easy job, definitely, that is granted. Believe me, I even told them myself the first time I taught a huge crowd, I spent a lot of time sitting on the toilet the night before that first day. My stomach was brutal because I was so damn nervous! On the other hand, though I grant you that the job is tough, I’m not one to give total respect to anyone by the default. My respect, much like my compliments must be earned through performance and hard work.
Even before I was an instructor, and more so now, when I take a class, of which I take many, I can’t be in there crying about how hard it is and giving up on myself, especially since I teach the way I do. When my body wants to quit, I scream, I grunt, I fight, and I tell myself, “This is exactly what you just demanded of your participants less than one hour ago in your own class, you better perform equal to or better here! You will not quit!” And that’s what I did last night which prompted this young lady to ask me, “Why do you train so hard? Why don’t you just take a break? It’s okay to take a break and it doesn’t mean you quit.”
My break comes after class, when I’ve completed the tasks set before me. Tasks that many instructors themselves can’t complete. But that’s just me, I know that some folks function differently, and believe it or not, word gets back to me about how some instructors do not approve of my mindset and approach to training. We are all built differently, and I do respect everyone’s right to choose their methods. I don’t have to like or participate, but I respect your right to choose.
I may not agree with it when you coddle a client, and then one year later they look exactly the same way or even worse! Really though, my thoughts on that are an entirely different post guaranteed to offend some of you regarding how you really don’t care about the client and are just in it for the paycheck! But that’s an offense that I’ll save for another day. I may not approve if you give frequent breaks during your class therefore killing the momentum. I may not approve of many things you do, but it’s your choice to do things as you like. I respect that choice, and reserve the right to not be a part of it. Just the same, I expect that you will respect mine, and of course, you too have the choice not to be a part of mine.
When it comes to training, and my methods, here’s my promise to you, if you take a class with me, and YOU TRY, then you WILL come out physically and mentally stronger than when you walked in. One way or the other, you will grow, you will improve, and you will be all the better for it! As long as you do your part, I promise to do mine! Remember that without your part, my part cannot and will not work.
Isn’t the goal of fitness training physical and mental wellness? Well, that’s what I bring to the table, in a fun, safe environment! But you must work with me, I can’t do it for you! And I can’t help you achieve that, if I am one who quits on himself in class. And that’s why I train so hard! Will you?
Growing Up Bronx
Please note the date on a post as it may be an old viewpoint. I keep old posts to show my evolution. The opinions and views expressed here are solely those of the author.