by: Dana Auriemma
In my years of experience as an instructor, Pilates studio owner, and fitness studio consultant, I have seen and heard it all when it comes to students. And I know my fellow fitness professionals have too! We are blessed to work with dozens if not hundreds of students from all walks of life who come to us with inspiring energy and dedication. Yet I see many of them are still a little misguided about a few things when it comes to fitness. So here is what I think we could say to help:
Thank you for working hard to make fitness a part of your life. Really… truly…you are awesome. As fitness professionals, we are honored that you choose to work with us, trust our expertise and support our businesses. We love our profession and are passionate about helping you live a fit and healthy life. It’s because of this that we want to make sure you fully enjoy and benefit from your exercise program(s). In working with hundreds of different students, we see things time and time again that hold students back, negatively affect their workout experience or the experience of those around them. So we, your instructors, have some important advice that we want to lovingly share with you.
1. Don’t judge an entire exercise program by a studio, class or instructor.
Every fitness instructor has heard this: a student had a disappointing experience with a certain form of exercise, believes that experience is indicative of the entire program and has therefore decided they don’t like that program. Ahhhhh no! For reasons both good and bad, studios and instructors are as unique as snowflakes. They have different levels of education, different teaching styles and approaches. One studio, class or instructor can almost never completely represent a given exercise program. So please, try at least a few different instructors, classes and/or studios before you decide against an exercise program. You may find that the right instructor can be a good fit and make you a convert.
2. Look for a workout and an education.
This is an important balance to find. We know most students want to feel-the-burn and target their least-loved body parts, but please don’t just look for a workout that makes you feel sore. A good exercise program will have a well-rounded and educational approach to fitness, challenge your body and teach you good movement. Great instructors know anatomy, kinesiology and can tell by looking at you if you are initiating a movement from the wrong muscle. This is important to developed a balanced physique and avoid injury. So research your instructor or trainer’s background and education. Set your standards high and only train with true professionals.
3. Go private once in a while.
Many fitness programs offer both group workouts and private ones. Understandably, students often back away from private training options because the price tag is intimidating. I know…we all have budgets to be mindful of. But know this: for many exercise programs and with the right instructor, you will progress much faster when you work one-on-one than you will in a group class. Just think about the difference between getting 1/10th of your instructor’s attention in a group mat class versus their undivided attention in a private training session. In a private session, instructors hardly let you do a single repetition wrong. Plus they help you tackle personal challenges and reset bad exercise habits in ways you can’t in class. Yes they cost more, but you get a lot more out of them. So if your budget can afford it, take private sessions at least once in a while.
4. We can’t make promises. You’re in control.
Students are with us on average 3 hours a week. That’s it. The other 165 hours you’re on your own. So please don’t ask us how soon until you see results. Bad infomercials and fad fitness programs got you thinking that we can promise lost inches, lost pounds or 6-pack abs in 4 weeks. We can’t…and no professional instructor will. We can give you great exercises that burn calories, strengthen, and tone, but what your body will look like or how much it will weigh comes down to the quantity and quality of your exercise plus what you eat. Fitness is a way of life so adjust your approach. Focus on exercising to feel good, get strong and make your body happy. Exercise in some way almost every day. Keep your eating clean and the rest will follow.
5. Check your attitude and clear your head.
We know in today’s overworked world, it’s challenging to carve out the time and money to exercise. So we cry a little inside when we see you walk into the studio in a bad mood or with a head full of distractions. We know it means you won’t enjoy or benefit as much from your workout as you could with a positive attitude and a clear head. True, the act of exercising can be cathartic and help improve your mood, but the quality of your workout will still suffer. You won’t be as open to our instructions or as observant about your body. You’ll be tense, breathing poorly and not moving or using your muscles as well as you could. So please, do whatever you can to walk into the studio in a positive, pleasant mood and ready to learn! On your way to class, listen to soothing music, avoid taking phone calls or talking about work. Take a moment outside the studio door for a personal pep talk or arrive early to breath, stretch and prepare for class. Your body will thank you!
6. Be a good neighbor.
Exercise is a community experience. Even in a private session. There are people around you (getting close to you) who are affected by your energy, your hygiene, your commentary and your movements. Make an effort to be pleasant to be around. Watch your clothing and your cleanliness. Watch the space around you and the volume of your voice if talking. Be friendly and courteous and help make the studio a great environment for us all!
7. Talk to us.
We are here for YOU! So talk to us and tell us what you need or like. Tell us if you loved class and why. Tell us if you want to do things differently, if you have issues or requests. Tell us if you don’t understand our instructions. Tell us ANYTHING that hurts or is injured. We need to know! If you’re unhappy with your class or the studio, please tell us and give us a chance to fix it. We hate losing clients and not knowing why. We can handle it. We understand you may prefer another instructor and that’s okay. Just talk to us. The more we know, the better we can be for you.
Thank you so much for being our students and keep up the great work!
Your Fitness Instructors
Dana started her professional career in marketing and sales working for Fortune 500 companies, but later moved out of the corporate world to pursue her passion in fitness. She opened, grew and sold a thriving Pilates studio and is now dedicated to helping other studio owners and teachers master the marketing and business skills needed to reach their full potential! Dana publishes free training articles plus online and live business courses are coming this fall. Visit her online or on facebook.