Experience as an instructor TAKING a class and feeling very unaccomplished

Experience as an instructor TAKING a class and feeling very unaccomplished

January 26, 2024

By Leslie Michelle Williams

Have you ever been in an exercise class and felt like THE worst one? Last Monday, I took an aerial yoga class that humbled me and opened my heart to the new, the uncoordinated, the injured, and the strength-challenged amongst us.

I usually have the greatest experience because I AM the instructor in class. I AM the best. I know all the moves – heck, I make up the moves! I can lunge lower, plank nicely, squat longer, and do five great-looking push-ups on my toes.

I teach a very lovely Antigravity Yoga class at Crunch, which is always full and has a loyal following. It has a great flow, but I love to spice it up and bring something different every few weeks. I also take other classes to improve and learn more techniques and tricks.  

If you’re not familiar with Antigravity Yoga, it’s yoga-inspired moves performed in a hammock. The hammock hangs from the ceiling and allows you to float, swing, and invert. It is an amazing class for beginners to yoga because it’s supportive and helps you hold poses you could never do on the mat alone.

“Invite your inner child out to play! It’s the little version of you that doesn’t know yet to care about what other people think.” This was group fitness instructor Janie Prince’s first quote as we started flowing through our hammock. I love Janie’s style, and she never fails to bring a fun and funky move to AGY.  

women in a pole dancing class

“Inner child, let’s do this,” I thought as I tried to levitate with my arms wrapped in the hammock. I have some degree of permanent golfer and tennis elbow in both arms. This limits my range of motion and is painful so hoisting my body into midair… a fail. 

We did a series of familiar moves that were fun. Back belt with the hammock support across your sacrum as you hang upside down. So fun. I anticipated the “real” stuff. I knew she would break out something cool. She always does, but will I be able to do it? 

Janie said, “Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.”

Here comes the new move. Some parts were familiar – a reason to have gratitude.  The other part was tricky. Then, it was time for the pull-up and the flip. Whoa! I did it! It wasn’t great, but I managed. I caught myself in the mirror and attempted to look alluring or at least not completely graceless. 

Suddenly, it was time to add a double flip to this perfectly satisfactory tricky trick. The tourniquet effect of the first flip on my left leg was quite sensational.  A second flip would have felt like amputation. I gave it a half effort but it felt too advanced for me. As if reading my mind, Janie said:

“Give yourself permission to fail! It sounds scary, but you’re actually just giving yourself permission to try.”

women stretching

Even though part of me was disappointed that I, the great seasoned fitness instructor, did not have instant mastery, Janie’s gentle words soothed my bruised ego.

After class, I talked to Janie about how great she was at leaving us feeling ok about whatever happened in class, but I was still sheepish about my performance.  She reminded me that it’s great to make mistakes because then, you can know how it feels when you have to help a member who might make that same mistake.

Janie’s teaching method was an act of radical kindness. Attempting advanced moves in aerial yoga as a fitness instructor was not only a humbling experience but also a testament to the importance of embracing the hilarity of new challenges. So, the next time you find yourself in uncharted workout territory remember, even fitness gurus can feel like clumsy fools. So, be patient and kind to yourself. Take the adventure – the reward is in the experience.

Leslie Michelle Williams is a group fitness instructor at Crunch Fitness.

Crunch’s group fitness classes promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It’s an environment for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now. Your goals are made to be crushed. With Crunch, you’ll have the tools, resources, and support to make it happen.

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