What Exactly Does a Fitness Instructor Do?Tuesday, December 08, 2015
This is the seventh installment in the career series here on the blog. I've asked a few talented ladies in different industries to share the nitty gritty on what exactly their jobs entail. Instead of tossing around vague industry titles, they're giving us a behind-the-scenes look at what it really means to work in their field. Today, I'm honored to have Noemi Mate, a pilates and yoga instructor, share her story.
Most people think that being a fitness instructor is just about doing some workouts at weird times of the day and nothing else. Once or twice, I was told that it's not even a job. I do what people do as a hobby. I admit, it is fun and I enjoy doing these things, otherwise I wouldn't be able to work in these totally unsocial hours. But being a fitness trainer is not just about working out in shiny clothes.
I teach Pilates, postnatal group classes and spinal balance training (a class aimed at preventing back pain and hernia). Whenever I leave the classes, I feel energized and happy because I get to meet so many wonderful women. And, very rarely, some men.
I also teach courses and workshops once or twice a week, mostly on the weekends or late in the evening. These workshops are 3-5 hours long. I also go on tours with them because they are not available everywhere in the country, so sometimes I travel to the countryside to teach them.
Personal training is also a part of most fitness trainers' tasks. I enjoy this part because it is totally different from group classes. I often use different music and different equipment, plus I'm able to help correct a client's posture while they're doing the exercises. People share more information about their lives in private classes, and I am able to help them easier. Private training is popular among busy people who can't fit a group class into their schedule (either because of a hectic work life or being a mom of 1-2-3 children) and among shy people who find groups just another source of stress. Because I teach classes (Aviva and LoveYourBelly) that are not available in many places, I also offer Skype classes which is always fun. At first, I worried whether it was possible to teach movements via Skype but after a few months, I got totally used to it and now it's second nature. Now I have just as many online as offline classes.
I am also a certified weight loss nutritionist, so I offer consultations on dieting as well. I don't advertise it often, so I usually only have one or two consultations a week. I really enjoy this part, as it is always fun to see how people view the food topic and what kind of changes are applicable to their lifestyle. I find consulting very challenging and entertaining at the same time. Nobody is the same so I always have to think about the solution. It's never a routine task. And I hate routine tasks — maybe that is why I chose this niche. We solve problems, which is never boring.
About once or twice a week, I have coaching consultations on how to become a health professional. This was not something that I planned to do but life can always surprise us. I was offering single consultations for people who had questions on fitness, nutrition, or leading a healthy lifestyle. I quickly realized that more and more people were using this consultation to talk about how to become a health professional. I helped some of my former clients become Pilates, yoga or aerobic instructors and found that I enjoy motivating and mentoring others who are unsure about what they want to do. Currently, I'm working on creating a workshop about this.
As a fitness instructor, I spend quite a lot of time answering emails. Because I teach several alternative therapies like the Aviva method and LoveYourBelly that treat different illnesses, people usually have extra questions and insecurities about their health issues. In addition, people who "only" want to lose weight or gain muscle also have questions. I love it when people are not afraid to ask questions because it gives me a chance to think about their problems and come up with a solution that works for them. However, it can be very time-consuming. I spend about 2-3 hours a day answering emails. I also have two Facebook groups for my former clients, and spend about an hour a week monitoring the page and answering questions there as well.
There is a ton of background work that most people don't see. It involves planning each session, posting on social media, searching for (and sometimes editing) appropriate music, planning and organizing events, searching for possible locations, negotiating with fitness studios, creating posters, advertising, etc. Once a workshop is posted, the application process starts. I cannot automate this part because some applicants may have health conditions that influence which workshops they can attend. Another large portion of my time is spent creating blog content. I post about once a week on my blog, but I also have another blog in Hungarian (my mother tongue). I run my business in both languages, which is sometimes a bipolar feeling because I have to remember if I posted about a topic in English or Hungarian. Sometimes this background work can take up to 2-3 hours a day. Other days it takes 10 minutes. I have made the decision to hire a virtual assistant because I hate not having the background work done, but I really don't have time to accomplish it all. I had to choose between reducing the number of clients or stop doing the background work — or going crazy!
It may seem funny to list this here, but I do twice as much laundry since I started working as a fitness instructor. I have different clothes for nutrition consultations and coaching, for fitness training (several different outfits for one day), and for wearing around the house. Plus, let's not forget all the towels! Suffice it to say, I really need to do laundry often.
Although being a fitness trainer requires you to work in the hours others have their free time, such as evenings and weekends, I really enjoy my job. I have a more balanced schedule (or at least I'm working on it) and I love being able to make my own hours by planning out my time in advance.