From the Back Row to the Stage
by Macy Kitten, TeXercise Instructor
My exercise journey actually doesn’t go back too far. I was never in sports as a kid, I wasn’t overly competitive, and my comfort zone was definitely not in PE. I tried doing gymnastics until my asthma got in the way, so I had to quit. That was a turning point for me that would take me on a long road to just feel healthy again.
One of my initial priorities was working on my cardiovascular health which would, in turn, strengthen my lungs. I was 14 when my mom invited me to tag along to her favorite spin class. I was intimidated walking into this dark room full of people who I assumed knew so much more than me. It was physically one of the most difficult things I had done in a long time, but with the loud music, the instructor’s energy, and the entire group working out together, I was hooked.
From then on, I would go to classes weekly and I started branching out to strength training. Eventually, I got to the point where I’d choose to go by myself because I felt so much more comfortable in a fitness space than when I had started. Coming into my freshman year at UT, I knew I wanted to keep going to group exercise classes and I had tried just about everything we had to offer. After my first semester, I had found my favorite formats in cycle and F45 Training and I knew it was something I wanted to take the next step in.
That spring the Fitness Instructor Training Series (FITS) was taking place so I took advantage of that opportunity. It was way out of my comfort zone at first- having to stand in front of a group of people and tell them what to do or to have them look to me for what was coming next. But with every session, I felt myself ease up even more. What was there to be afraid of when we were all wanting the same thing: growth. Through FITS, I learned to teach Tabata, cycle, and F45 which also taught me how to feel confident speaking in front of a group. I was a mentee for these formats, so a more experienced instructor walked me through everything I needed to know to lead a class.
The effects of learning how to instruct group exercise classes travel outside of the gym as well. For me, I had better self-esteem and confidence in general, and in regards to school — I’ll never sweat a presentation as I did before. Instructing has helped me to feel self-assured but able to recognize my own limits and where I could grow even more. I haven’t stopped learning — even after I finally got my own classes.
My advice to anyone interested in instructing is to go for it. It can be an intimidating process, but you gain a great support group along the way. It’s also very important to ask for help when you need it because you’ll likely be a stronger, more confident instructor. If you’re interested in auditioning- own the room and act as if you are teaching your own class. I always practiced what I would say in an empty room by myself or in front of a friend. As awkward as it sounds, it allows you to get comfortable with your workout content and be the one person leading the class. Overall, have fun with it! Show your personality and your passion for fitness and everyone will be sure to notice.
Macy Kitten is a junior at the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Services. Macy is a certified group fitness instructor and currently teaches F45 Training and group cycle in the RecSports TeXercise program.