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Fitness Industry Careers: The Importance of Adaptability

One of the most important qualities to have when you work in the fitness industry is the ability to adapt…and quickly. I 100% endorse planning for your clients and classes but you also have to be able to abandon that plan depending on how your clients show up, outside circumstances that are out of your control and the energy of a class.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to totally change my plan for PT clients at the drop of a hat because they show up with some issue…tight backs, groin pain, kid was up all night and they didn’t sleep, headache, etc. Then there are the circumstances that are out of control…fire alarms going off in the middle of class, music or mic not working, an abundance of newbies in class, energy of class requires something different than you planned.

There was a time in my life that I would have freaked out over having to change the plan on the fly but now it comes so easy for me. I wanted to share two examples of this that have shown up in the last two days.


I was teaching circuit training at Metro last night when after I got my class warmed up, the fire alarm went off in the building. There is a pizza restaurant below so when the fire alarm goes off, I take it seriously. We all ran outside and stood around as we learned that a kid had pulled the fire alarm. The alarm couldn’t be turned off until the fire department arrived so rather than have my class continue to stand around, we moved the workout outside. There were several movements that had to be changed due to equipment but I quickly gave them modifications and got them moving. Of course it was an evening that I brought Sullie to the gym with me so she supervised the parking lot workout like a champ.



And tonight I showed up to teach my 6 p.m. class at the studio and the energy of my students was so amazing but not what I had planned. I thought I was going to do a faster flow but the class needed slower flow, longer holds and deeper work. It’s not the way I usually teach this class but for tonight it was so right. I had several of my regulars come up to me after class and tell me that it felt so good and was exactly what they needed.

I can’t really describe what it’s like to teach yoga/group ex and to SO feel the energy of a class but I do. It makes me a better teacher. It’s so important to be adaptable and to give your students what they need versus being stuck on what you want to do.



I’ll leave you with the quote that I shared with my yoga class. Today was a really good day. I so love what I do and I’m grateful for every single client and student that I have the opportunity to work with.


{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Elizabeth August 14, 2014, 11:36 pm

    I love the quote + how true!

  • Kacy August 15, 2014, 9:02 am

    I so agree! We have to be flexible! Just Tuesday night I had to teach a class on the sidewalk because no one was there to open up the studio for me! The students ended up loving being outside and feeling the breeze so it was just meant to be!
    I love that quote.

    • Jen August 18, 2014, 11:51 am

      where did you have to do that!? craziness! but practicing outside is amazing!

  • Kim August 15, 2014, 9:14 am

    There have been a few times when I’ve shown up to Crossfit and have been the only student there for that WOD. I’m lucky to have coaches who are totally cool about changing up the WOD depending on what’s going on with me. I mean, that’s what CrossFit is all about- adaptability. But my coaches take the approach that as long as I leave the gym feeling better than when I came in, that’s what we’ll do! Even if it’s just stretching or technique drills.

    • Jen August 18, 2014, 11:52 am

      that’s awesome kim. it’s great to have coaches that will do that for you and i love your attitude about being open to learning new basic technique and stretching things.

  • kristin August 15, 2014, 9:15 am

    it makes such a difference when instructors can read the energy of the room. those are always the most restorative classes (even if i feel like im getting killed during them :))

  • Samantha @ The Faithful Runner August 15, 2014, 10:51 am

    Being able to adapt to different situations is huge in the fitness industry, as well as life in general. Love the quote.

    • Jen August 18, 2014, 11:53 am

      samantha…so true that it also applies to life in general.

  • Shana August 15, 2014, 1:48 pm

    Love this message, and also would love to know how you have been able to change your mindset so as NOT to freak out when your plan has to be adjusted. Also — which crops are you wearing in the top pic? I know you’ve done some posts in the past about your favorite workout clothing and staple items, but I’d love to see an updated one!

    • Jen August 18, 2014, 11:54 am

      shana – i think it’s just come with time and comfort. i just feel 100% comfortable walking into any room to teach now and that allows me not to worry so much about my plan but the students instead.

      that’s not me in the pic…it’s one of my clients but i know they are lulu crops. some variation of the wunder under.

      i will get on an updated workout clothes post! 🙂

  • Kristen August 15, 2014, 2:12 pm

    As an instructor (though not yoga) –I think you are spot on with this post and am so intrigued by your ability to read energy and work with the vibe. I’m sure this is hard to answer in words, but how did you just *know* that your high-energy yogis needed a slow flow instead of what you had planned? I have certainly modified classes when had a lot first-timers, that sort of thing — but you are talking about a whole different level. I think Les Mills AIM2 is all about this kind of thing — understanding what every individual needs and how to teach to meet those needs. But would love to hear more about how you just “knew”. So fascinating. thank you!

    • Jen August 18, 2014, 11:58 am

      kristen – i think it comes from several different things…

      1) i am a very energy driven person in general. whether it’s teaching or taking a fitness/yoga class or interacting with others…i feel energy right away. it’s a blessing and a curse because sometimes it causes me to disengage if i’m not feeling the energy. it’s a blessing with classes because it allows me to really connect with certain teachers (when i’m the student) or with my students (when i’m the teacher)

      2) practice…i’ve taught so many classes now that i can walk in the room feeling 100% comfortable. that allows me to be super present for the class and not so worried about what i’m teaching/how i’m cueing/etc.

      3) communication. i talk to my students before/during/after class and ask how they’re feeling.

      becoming aware of energy is the first step to starting to tap into it and become a more intuitive teacher. listen to your gut and don’t worry so much about sticking to the plan! remember…you’re there for them and their experience and not your own!

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