As the fitness editor here at mbg, I have the (awesome) task of trying new workouts every week and interacting with inspiring fitness instructors from all over the country. Their energy, creativity, and enthusiasm for exercise amaze me. Even on their blah days, they have to show up, smile, and motivate the rest of us at the crack of dawn. Not an easy feat.
And in New York City, it’s not enough to be good at your job. We expect our fitness teachers to be part motivational speaker, part professional athlete, part model, and part social media guru — counted on for bikini selfies or extreme yoga poses. All this while hustling to pay rent.
My favorite spin instructor teaches four different types of classes, at two different gyms (starting at 6:30 a.m.), all while pursuing her dream of becoming an opera singer — at night. Just thinking about her typical day makes me exhausted.
There are other classes I LOVE that have yet to hit it big. The instructors struggle to find studio space throughout NYC. They wind up teaching their classes outside in parks, or attempt to find cheap space — like an unused room at a dance school. The classes are still amazing, but not many people recognize the hustle it takes to make it all work — on a regular basis.
And as if that’s not hard enough, they have to deal with harsh critics, who are apparently everywhere. Check out RateYourBurn.com or Yelp where you can count on someone having the exact opposite opinion on your favorite teachers. Ouch.
With this Realtalk Fitness series, we hope to share the realities of being a fitness instructor today. We know it takes a lot of effort to create a lasting career with a steady following, and we want to hear what it’s really like.
We’re interested in hearing all about the parts of the job that no one talks about: the pressure to look good at every class, deal with the negative reviews on the reg, stay positive (even at insanely early hours, or at a poorly-attended class), and everything else the rest of us don’t consider when we show up, plop down on a bike or the ground, and expect you to get us going.
Check the site tomorrow to read about a yoga teacher who isn't too pleased with how the "yogi community" has changed its landscape over the past few years.
If you work in the fitness industry and want to share your story with mbg, please reach out to me at gabrielle@mindbodygreen. I’d love to hear from you. (And in case it’s helpful, here are our writing guidelines.)