By Stephanie Guilfoyle, Certified Spinning® Instructor | Maryland
Change is inevitable. It is the only constant we can rely on in life. As instructors, we are always expected to change and keep up with industry standards. As humans, we must change our habits as we get older and do different things to stay healthy. Now imagine being a military spouse and changing a home, job and circle of friends every few years! Wow!
Being a fitness instructor can be stressful in and of itself. People look to us as the perfect example of health — always having boundless energy in or out of the exercise rooms, never eating a morsel of sugar and staying in great shape no matter what. It can feel like an insurmountable feat to shed light on the fact that we are just like everyone else and have days where we want to do nothing besides eat ice cream and stay in bed. This makes me laugh and feel frustrated at the same time. Can anyone relate?
The transient lifestyle of a military family comes with its own unique challenges. Moving homes and finding a new job can sometimes feel quite defeating, as the spouse often must start at the bottom rung of the ladder over and over again. This can mean going from multiple full weekly Spinning® classes to an occasional substitute opportunity with strange faces who immediately draw comparisons to the regular instructor. Not to mention each gym has its own culture and environment.
Be Ready to Start Over… Again
Your teaching style may be unfamiliar to the new class and it may take more effort on your part to be accepted. What works in one gym may not work in another as far as music and profiles go. This is a lesson I learned personally. Never give up though! Here are some tips for all of us to remember:
- Stick to the training you received and teach to the people in the class
- Connect to your new riders by learning their names
- Relate to riders by asking them questions and why they love Spinning
- Spend time in the gym, taking other classes and become a familiar face to members
There will always be someone who connects to your style and soon you will have your own little group of fans.
Prepare for Obstacles
You may have to ask hard questions as well. Find out what it is that makes you different from the other instructors, especially if you are having a hard time increasing class numbers.
Always remember that it just takes time to build up new clientele. If you are part of a military family, often once you achieve a strong class foundation, it may be time to move again and start over! But it isn’t all gloom. Being part of the military community definitely has its benefits. As a whole, the members of the military have to exercise regularly and most enjoy it. When you are in a military base gym, it can be motivating to see everyone working out together and you might learn some new moves from them.
Learn about Special Military Programs and the Fitness Enhancement Program
Working in a gym on base can be very rewarding as there are programs in place to assist service members in achieving better fitness levels. This is done with the goal of helping all members of the military to pass physical fitness tests and maintaining increased standards across all military branches.
One such program is the Fitness Enhancement Program (FEP). It is a weekly workout program designed to improve fitness levels of those who struggle with passing Navy fitness tests. FEP consists of weekly weigh-ins and group-based workouts. FEP is required for some and available to all service members. The fitness leaders track all results weekly. If given the opportunity, teaching these workouts can be rewarding as you are helping each person reach a goal that will impact their career.
Earn Additional Fitness Certifications
Mad Dogg Athletics, the parent company of Spinning, Bodyblade®, Peak Pilates®, Ugi® and Kettlebell Concepts, offers complimentary Instructor Trainings for eligible military service members and spouses. Additionally, the company participates in conjunction with the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) Program, a career development and employment assistance program helping military spouses pursue necessary certifications or certificates of training from approved schools.
The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) also offers discounts on certifications and workshops to all active duty, retirees and their dependents when courses are scheduled on-board military bases. Eligibility requirements apply.
Keep Your Spinning® Career in Shape
When it comes down to it, there are challenges and benefits to any career path. Being a military spouse can add additional hurtles to a fitness professional’s career. However, take each opportunity given and make the most of every class. You never know what your riders can teach you while you are trying to teach them.
I have learned over the years that starting over is scary and I’ve often been taken out of my comfort zone and felt resentful, but that was the exact time to step out of the box, keep learning and remember why instructing is the job I chose. I’ve come out the other side a more confident instructor with many stories to tell my students and so will you.
Your career is what you make of it, and having the opportunity to teach in many facilities all over the country will give you back what you put in, so be positive and you’ll make more of an impact than you might realize.
- Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. AFAA Military Calendar. November 2013. http://www.afaa.com/military_calendar.htm (accessed November 2013)
- Mad Dogg Athletics,Inc.® | Spinning® . Military Personnel. November 2013 http://www.spinning.com/en/militarybenefits (accessed November 2013)