Fitness classes: instructor perspective

Do you ever consider your instructor when you’re walking into a fitness class?

I often wonder if I’m perceived as some fitness-obsessed robot that has no feelings or emotions other than “beast mode” and “eat mode”. Below I describe examples of times I really didn’t want to be teaching a group of people and why.


I’m not the ‘usual’ instructor

Every class instructor I know has suffered from the disappointing look you received when someone walks in and realises you’re not the regular instructor. This look cuts SO deeply YOU HAVE NO IDEA! Yes we are entitled to an opinion but how would YOU feel if YOU walked into the room and I looked at you and you saw my face drop and frown? Even worse vocally expressing my disappointment?! Just remember that the instructor covering is there so that YOU don’t miss YOUR session. They’ve had to leave their warm couch and slippers just like you have, on a night they normally wouldn’t have to.

Don’t get me wrong, I also cover classes and see people beam as they walk in very happy to see it’s me- what a BUZZ! If I get both in the same session though-which one do you think sticks with me the whole time? I’ll focus on the negative every damn time.

I’m exhausted

It’s one thing doing a class when you’re tired mentally and physically. How about doing it while talking and smiling? There are some sessions I walk in to seriously questioning how on this earth I am going to get through it. It’s not about talking and exercising, it’s about coaching and encouraging too. I’d secretly love to teach one class one day where I only do what I feel like doing and saying to show just how flat and awful I would come across.

Have you ever felt really rubbish but had to go to a family occasion where you need to come across happy, excited and like you really REALLY want to be there? Even though you feel like rolling into a warm ball surrounded by chocolate and tea? Yeah that’s how I feel sometimes knowing I’m about to teach 2.5 hours of classes. Obviously I’m fully aware that this is the profession I have chosen and it is physical demanding. I am driven to motivate and drive people. I could earn a lot more sitting at a desk in an office. So although I’m tired purely because the job I do makes me tired, I do this job because I want to help YOU.

The number of times I have got in from my last class or session of the day and sat in the bath and just stared blankly at the hot water questioning everything I’ve ever done with my life. I can’t begin to imagine how professional sports people feel, although I still argue that they still don’t have to do the sport AND encourage an entire team to also feel motivated.

I’m anxious

I can’t speak for every instructor but when I have a new CD mix or new choreography for a class, I get nervous. I want my class to enjoy what I have to offer so badly and get a great workout out of me that I start to question my ability to deliver.

When I launched Totally Shredded Clacton, the very first class, I had never taught it and I had gone to a lot of effort to promote it and hire the hall and sort out the insurance etc. This class launched to 70 people. All in one room. All looking at me. That is pretty scary whatever you’re doing! I remember the minutes before leaving my home to get there I felt so hollow and sick and could have very easily gone to bed.

Personal issues

I will never EVER forget the session I went in to teach back in 2014. If you’re not an animal person you won’t understand. However, a few hours before teaching an aerobics class my dog had to be put down. Now, she had been in my life from primary school through 16 years of sleeping on my bed every night and doing everything with me and my friends. She would comfort me if I was sitting quietly because a boy upset me at school, she would be by my side all the time. I was, and still am heart broken. To me, it was like losing a family member.
Why did I go in still? I could have just stayed at home crying but I didn’t and I have no idea why. I think it may be because there was a group of women waiting for me to help them through their own struggles and I honestly felt better by the end of it having exercised. I think the multi-tasking aspect blocks the negative thoughts and emotions. I taught a class after a breakup once. I felt completely numb and broken but putting on this “show” and pretending to be this super positive, happy person actually did me some good because again it just blocked what I was going through.

However, had someone walked in and gave the the look of “oh, it’s you?” I may have had a breakdown.


This isn’t a pity post! Just a post to inform you that like other class instructors, I am human, I do have feelings. What you do and say around us will impact us, positively and negatively. Give us the respect we give you and appreciate you are what drives us to do what we do.

I also want to make sure every participant of every class I teach is appreciated. Especially my private classes. Without you I would have no classes and wouldn’t earn a living. It’s the biggest buzz for me to see people smiling and exercising together and I take great pride in watching them all progress and surprise themselves.


Are you an instructor? Do you agree or disagree? Maybe you’ve been to a class and the instructor doesn’t cover how they’re feeling! Please comment below.

2 thoughts on “Fitness classes: instructor perspective

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, must have been pretty tough to write! I’m a PT and Class Instructor and can sympathise with every single one of these points! The nerves when you’re covering someone else’s class- and the desperation to muster up every last bit of energy, so that you can motivate not only yourself, but a whole group of people who are tired and grumpy! On a positive note, it’s also the best feeling in the world when someone takes the time at the end of the class to thank you and say that they enjoyed it! If you enjoy a class- tell the instructor! It’ll make their day.

    1. I completely agree! Always tell the instructor!!
      I think people find comfort in knowing we rolled out of bed hating life just the same as them sometimes and that we’re not always this crazy Duracell bunny!

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