When you’re in a fitness class, do you ever wonder what the instructor is thinking? Do you marvel at her motivation techniques, relentless energy, and mercilessly sunny attitude? As a fitness instructor who has coached for 12 years, I can tell you: There’s a lot going on behind my lunatic cheerleader smile. Here are some of my innermost thoughts, along with those of some of Atlanta’s top trainers and coaches.
Show up early
Especially for your first class. “If you’re late, at least ask if it’s okay to hop in,” says Allison Gately, a trainer at MADabolic. “Clients walking in late can be distracting to others and disrupt the flow of class.”
Instructors have feelings too
You might dream about failing a test; we dream about screwing up a class. Sometimes our headsets malfunction, the stereo goes on the fritz, or we repeat an exercise. “We have bad days and good days, just like you,” says Megan Armstrong, creative director and master instructor at SculptHouse.
I once had two students yell to each other, during class, about how much they hated my technique. I smiled through gritted teeth. Another brought her own headphones to class so she could tune me out entirely.
It’s okay to stumble
We know new moves are tough. And we know that sound wasn’t an air pocket under your back, says Adam Gil, a trainer at KoloFit Personal Training Studio. “We won’t call you on it.”
We love a hard worker
And we can’t stand a faker. Yes, we know when you’re cheating. “And we see the client who drinks water after every exercise set,” says LaVar Merrell, an associate trainer at Sweat Equity.
We get creeped out, but we keep going
There was that time when I only had one student in an indoor-cycling class, and he refused to follow any of my cues—or break eye contact. Never have I wished more that my bike wasn’t stationary.
“It’s really important to pay attention,” Armstrong says. If you hear us saying, “relax your shoulders” or repeating for the fifth time that your knees shouldn’t come out over your toes in a squat, please heed our warnings. “Put your ego away, listen to what we have to say, and implement it,” says Gately.
Bragging drives us nuts
You were in the gym for three hours yesterday? That’s nice. Don’t try to prove anything to us; you’re here, and we’re glad. “A new, too-cool-for-school client is the worst,” says Brandon Lacey, a coach at Solidcore. “Don’t be that person.”
Please don’t talk
But feel free to yell. To carry on a loud conversation while we’re teaching makes us feel disrespected, but do hoot and holler. We love spontaneous displays of enthusiasm. “It makes us want to work harder,” Lacey says.
This article appears in our June 2019 issue.