Just give me a chance, will you?

This past week I have been on the receiving end of a cold shoulder treatment from two ladies at the gym where I teach twice a week. I decided to write this short note as I know how personally I would take it in my early teaching days.

What am I talking about? Picture this: I teach at the gym twice a week. It’s a class with loyal regulars and a waiting list. This week I was asked to cover Paul who teaches on both days right before me. He has his loyal following too. We have very different teaching styles.

I got to the studio nice and early and set myself up. It was about 10min left before the class and people started to arrive. At this gym a member of staff stands at the door to the studio collecting tokens as the class needs to be booked. That means you do not enter and see the instructor face to face until you handle the ticket and walk in. You can however see who the instructor is through the glass door.

So this lady comes into the gym with a smile, is about to handle her ticket in then sees me through the glass and makes a hasty retreat. A couple of minutes later another one does exactly the same and promptly heads for the dance class saying something like: “It’s not Paul”.

Now with a 1,000 class taught including hundreds of cover classes I have been there before many times. But I used to take it personally and really get upset about it. When you are an instructor and people react this it is hard to take. If you are at the gym for the first time you want to say to them (and I did in the past): “Just give me a chance. If after the first 15min you think I am not good enough for you, you are free to leave.”

I do understand that there will be instructors you will not LIKE and it may not be personal at all – you like them but not their teaching style. And I am not condemning anyone. Here comes my confession: I used to do it… I had my favourite 2 instructors. I loved their music and their class structure. I knew I was going to enjoy my workout. Then on a couple of occasions I walked in, set myself up and … someone else turned up! A cover. I suffered through one class where I did not enjoy it and second time despite being ready and set up, as soon as the cover lady came in – I promptly left. Now I know what it feels like from the other side… Karma?

My point is: keep an open mind. But if you have tried a class with that instructor and it’s not the music or structure you enjoy try leaving with a quick smile rather than rolling your eyes and walking out with a huff.

I now take it on a chin and as much as I understand we all have our own teaching styles and personalities and musical tastes I personally would prefer if you could nicely give me feedback as per what is it that makes you leave. It may bring my attention to something I can work on or simply point out you don’t like my 90s music or the fact I teach partially off the bike.

What about you? As an instructor, would you like to know why people leave the studio as soon as they lay their eyes on you or do you believe “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”? And as a class participant, have you ever walked out on an instructor before they started teaching? What made you do it?

The Big One – Sheffield, 5th September 2015

We are back from Sheffield. This was my 3rd fitness showcase this year and I really enjoyed it. Especially that I finally managed to get a couple of friends to go with me. That’s how the three musketeers (Serena, Tony and I) found ourselves on the 6:37am from St Pancras to Sheffield yesterday. Not without trouble, mind you. Serena changing her mind about coming the last second, me going to the wrong station in the morning…

Anyway we had ambitiously all signed up to 5 sessions each a few weeks ago when booking the event. In my case it was 4 indoor cycling classes and PiYo (Pilates and yoga combination). But life always gets in the way somehow. Serena had had a tough week with a new qualification course and assessment, I had 2 weeks of 12 classes a week in a row with no day off. Hence on the 6:37am train we were a bit dubious of how the day would unfold, secretly hoping for a sauna or a lie-down area at the venue…

We took a cab from the station and headed for The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. What a venue! Massive building with an indoors athletics track (full of kids having some sort of games or training), numerous studios, weights area, a whole room full of boxing rings etc. Pictures of locals like Jessica Ennis-Hill on the walls 🙂 It was so big you had an impression that there weren’t that many people attending the event itself.

The organisation was top notch. Registration area where we got our tickets, certificate of attendance etc was very well organised and surrounded by a few stalls selling fitness clothes, music, sound systems and the like.

You get this on arrival and registration

You get this on arrival and registration

Sheffield presenters

We headed for our first class – we all booked the same cycling class. We were late but thankfully they hadn’t started yet.

As we walked in they were 1 bike short and mine and Serena’s faces lit up (yes, you have read it right) so we each said: “Oh, shame. Don’t worry about me. You take the bike. I’ll just watch” while thinking: “YES! I can WATCH it and give my legs a rest!”. But the organisers swiftly came up with extra 2 bikes so we were both back on.
The instructor was Doyle Armstrong – a guy that I talked to over the phone and Facebook countless times but have never actually met. He is the one who told me about the whole event in the first place.

I must admit I was disappointed when I learnt a couple of weeks ago that the bike were not going to be MatrixIC7 but Technogym. I really wanted to see pros teach on Matrix. But it was a very good class nevertheless.

Doyle used My Ride video system so we didn’t have to visualise but could actually see the terrain we were supposed to ride through. The video was very good and Doyle’s sense of humour came through when throwing in little challenges that were tying up very well to what we were seeing.

Shame my legs were refusing to cooperate. And judging from the evil glances I was getting from Serena in the back row, her legs were on the same page. Both our sweaty faces seems to be saying: “3 more cycling classes today?! No way!”. Tony was soldiering through but then we all know: TONY IS NOT HUMAN.

The class was over. I went over to Doyle to introduce myself and was greeted with: “I know you’re Izabela!”. Underestimated the FB pictures again 🙂  Then it was Tony’s turn to head for the Kettlebells class and us two… well, we headed for… cafeteria…

OK, the little cafe was cozy but not big enough for the number of people there on the day. That was the only negative I can mention.

After a breakfast we headed to the registration area to swap our cycling classes tickets for something less strenuous. We signed up for an Old Skool Garage Jams and Shredded Body (?!). We also managed to both buy some useful instructors’ items.

Good prize and finally could see the actual size of the mic windshields before buying them!

Good price and finally could see the actual size of the mic windshields before buying them!

Man, the dance class was great! Garage music is so much fun. There were people of all ages. No wonder I get so many requests for garage music in my classes. The choreo was demanding though. At least for me. And as the class progressed every time we heard: “From the top!” Serena and I would look in horror at each other: “What is the top!? That was like hours ago!”.

The instructor Jo Parry-Ali was full of energy, infectious smiles and boy can this girl move! And on top of this she makes harem pants look cool when I can make them look like an oversized PJs in the best case.

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Then it was lunchtime. Armed with Google Maps we decided to look for a health food place called Nando’s… It took a while to get there and then by the time we found the way back filled up with nutritious chicken the chance of taking the Shredded class was just as likely as teaching it… Another short break. We looked exhausted. I was getting cramps in my adductors. Serena stretched out on the sofa in the canteen. Tony… bought a sandwich. But then we know: TONY IS NOT HUMAN.

Then it was time for next class. I was overjoyed with the prospect of lying down on my mat just a bit worried that if there will be too much yoga and relaxation nobody would be able to wake me up.

The instructor Rachel Holmes turned up wearing the most funky and colourful leggings I have ever seen. She was all colours, smiles and toned muscles. She clearly knew loads of people in the class.

And off we went. And I must say: I needed this class. Beautiful stretching, challenging core work and realisation that hit home: I need to do it regularly. My hamstring are so tight it is insane. Rachel does daily workouts on Periscope. You should definitely check her out. The class went in a flash.

We were all signed up for the final class. But just like a few other people that I saw walking around or sitting slumped up exhausted and yawning we decided to take a rain check. we headed off to the town instead. We only had like 40min before the train back to London but Sheffield town centre is so nice, clean and open spaced. We loved it.

SheffieldSheffield Tony
The train trip home was a right laugh. And don’t judge us. Yes, we had drinks on the train. Yes, Tony accidentally belched as loud as a Canadian moose prompting us to almost combust with laughter and embarrassment.

All in all it was a great event. Very good value for money as the whole day of classes was only £30. The train booked in advance cost us around £35 return. Nando’s around £10… Gin & Tonic £2.20…

I was overjoyed with the thought of having a day off today and so was Serena. I woke up at 8:45am after 10 hours sleep with the thought: I DON’T NEED to be ANYWHERE today! Serena is spending time with the family. And Tony? Tony had a Bodypump class at 9:15. But then we all know: TONY IS NOT HUMAN.

The Big Leap – pondering on my life as an indoor cycling instructor

Another amazing sunset in Wandsworth tonight. It was a beautiful and busy day. In fact a busy week.

This post is to update you a bit on what’s happening now in my professional life as an indoor cycling instructor. And quite a lot is happening actually.

Those who know me know how passionate I am about being the best instructor I can be. I have now taught over 900 indoor cycling classes. Some will say that is nothing compared to their 10 years of teaching but it is a lot for me. Approaching the big 1000!

I have taught at GymBox, FF, VA, Nuffield, GoodVibes, various corporate gyms, 37 Degrees & The Fitness Mosaic. Variety of people, bikes, sound systems, class length and expectations. I have taken many professional courses to date and more are still coming. I am off to a big fitness event:The Big One in Sheffield with some friends from FF Clapham Junction on 5th September (please contact me if you want to join us! http://www.chrysalispromotions.com/shop/products.php?product=The-Big-One-2015) Then a week later off to Manchester for a big conference on new media. Exciting stuff. Then finally in November the biggest cycling trip so far: Costa Rica, Panama & Nicaragua!

And all my hard work seems to be finally paying off with gyms now contacting ME to offer classes just based on referrals from other gyms and instructors.

That’s why I feel like I am finally ready for making the Big Leap in my career and moving into fitness. Full time? Probably not yet. But it’s becoming much more of a WHEN rather than IF question.

Why? There comes a point in your life when you have to make a choice: are you satisfied with comfortable life or do you want actual professional satisfaction and fulfilment? I now know where my passion is. And I have met the right people to help me make the leap.

Without getting too philosophical, I do believe that you meet certain people for a reason. So if you ever come across someone in real life or online and you have a strong feeling that you should get the person’s contact number, even if you were on your way out – go back and ask for the details. If you know the person’s name but it’s too late there and then – find them online. I have met one of the most influential people as far as my career path choice is concerned at a Barclays branch! She was my personal banker – accidentally became one. Then I found her on FB. Then after she had left the job we kept in touch and I visited her and her family on the Isle of Wight. Now she’s very much present in my professional development and she and her husband helped me make many important decisions. Including starting this blog! So thank you Izabela Russell!

Tyrese Gibson said: “People come to your life for a reason or for a season” and I agree. Many people in my life turned up for a reason but they only were in for a season – when I needed their help. Others have stayed.

Now, why would I even consider swapping a cushy office number for a freelance indoor cycling instructor job? With the unsteady hours, stupidly early or late classes, troublesome mikes etc. Honestly? If I were to only be an instructor – have my own workout in front of a bunch of people I have no connection with and get paid for it – I wouldn’t do it. But I love TEACHING, motivating people, being there when they have their “light bulb” moment, when they do a challenge and achieve their goals. The plan is to move into coaching, training etc. I also have got something else I have been researching for a while but I will tell you about it on a separate occasion.

And for stories like the one from this morning when I was covering a class. I asked about injuries and this girl put her hand up. I went over and she told me she had a wrist injury so it was hard for her to stay out of the saddle unless she put her weight on her left forearm.
I said: ‘Don’t worry there is not much time out of the saddle planned for today’.
‘Oh! are you one of THESE then?’
‘Pardon?’
‘One of these instructors that will make us stay in the saddle for 45minutes?’
I kind of ignored that one, gave her a smile and told her: ‘Don’t worry you will be fine’.
After the class ended she came over and asked if I had a regular class at that gym. I said: ‘Ermm, no. However THIS class will become my perm class in a few weeks’ time’.
‘Great!’ she said with a genuine smile. Then added:
‘Don’t get me wrong: I HATED IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH but you were so motivational and your energy was so high I pushed myself the extra mile. I think I have become a bit complacent in my classes. See you soon’. Another satisfied customer! (was a comment from Tony, one of my regulars)

Watch this space!