I hope your Monday has been lovely and that your week is off to a nice start. I’m happy to see Monday arrive because my weekend kind of nuts. It was one of those perfect storms where everything hit at once…I had a book discussion to lead, an extra class on my schedule to sub, a workshop to teach and it was my turn in the rotation for my new once a month classes at the Y. In short…it was all work and not a lot of play.
So I know some of you were probably scratching your head that I said I was taking on a new teaching opportunity at the Y immediately after I wrote a post about feeling overwhelmed.
I kind of tried to explain my reasoning behind it in my last post but let me take a moment to really talk about why I love teaching group exercise and the Y and why it’s important for me to feel connected to the organization in some way.
In college and for a few years after, I exclusively ran and swam for exercise. I joined the YMCA when I moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 2006. I would try group exercise classes here and there…yoga, step, cycle…but I always felt like a fish out of water. (Gosh…especially in step…why did I ever think that was a good idea? All I did was trip over the bench and stand there looking confused.) Nothing really stuck. I mostly just used the treadmill and left without really interacting with anyone.
I finally made my way to BodyPump in 2007 at the encouragement of a friend and it completely changed group exercise for me. I was HOOKED! I loved that there was no grapevine warm up to fumble through (you totally feel my pain, right?) or tricky choreography to memorize. It was just weightlifting with fun music and motivational teachers.
I started attending BodyPump classes 2-3 times a week, every Tuesday and Thursday after work and weekends if I was in town. Going to BodyPump after work was the highlight of my day. I still remember rushing to the Y to get changed and standing in the hallway outside of class with all the other regulars waiting for the previous class to finish so we could go in and get set up. I started feeling connected at the gym as I worked out with the same people several times every week and took classes from the same teachers religiously. Nine years later and I still remember my first “favorite” teacher’s name, Allison. She worked for a local law firm and would always be changing from her suit to her workout clothes in the locker room. She was a total bad ass.
One day I saw a flier posted at the Y for a BodyPump instructor training. I had been regularly attending class for a year at this point and had seen massive changes in the composition of my body. I loved the class so much and wondered if maybe I should do the training. I nervously asked my teachers about it and they encouraged me to go for it. At this point I had NEVER dreamed I would ever teach group fitness.
I completed the training. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve done but it also set me on the path to where I am today. It pushed me WAY outside of my comfort zone in all the best ways. I spent the next 9 months subbing any chance I could get…5:30 a.m., Sundays, lunch break classes, whatever was open…I couldn’t get enough.
I moved to Charlotte in 2009 and immediately joined the Y. I attended classes regularly and it took six months of networking and follow ups to finally get a class of my own. I started teaching BodyPump on Mondays at 6 a.m. and Thursdays at 5:45 p.m. and continued teaching those classes for the next four years. During that time I also started teaching some rotational strength and cardio classes at other Ys as well.
Fast forward to today…I have been an employee of the Y for eight years now and I’ve spent countless hours inside the gym teaching classes. Teaching group fitness was the gateway to getting where I am today and I am forever grateful to the Y for offering me a place where I could learn and grow in a safe and supportive environment.
I gave up my permanent Y classes about a year ago when I had to make some tough decisions on how best to allocate my time in order to be able to financially support myself but I’ve had this constant pull and yearning to still be there. I begged my group exercise coordinator not to take me off payroll and subbed classes every couple of months to keep me an active employee.
Getting busy and overwhelmed again was the catalyst for me to reach out to her about teaching opportunities. I know it sounds crazy but I miss the Y and I miss group exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching yoga and it’s my favorite thing in the world to do but there’s nothing like putting on the mic and motivating a crowd of hard working students from all walks of life through a tough workout. It challenges and excites me as a teacher and it is my sincere hope that I can make my participants feel as comfortable and happy in a group exercise setting as my first teachers did for me.
I think the Y is an incredible organization and I am continually blown away by the incredible reach it has and the breadth of programming. We are really lucky here in Charlotte to have a very strong Y system (one of the strongest in the country) and the Ys here serve so many people in our community. I am honored to be a part of it.
So that’s why I’m teaching at the Y again. Although my plate is completely overflowing, this is something I need to do for me. And my first class back just totally sealed the deal that it was a good decision. I left sweaty and with a huge smile on my face.
Are you a member of the Y?
If you are a group exerciser, what was your “gateway” class into group exercise?