I started teaching group exercise when my daughter was one year old, as I was going a little stir crazy at home!
I saw a sign at the local gym looking for spin teachers. It read “make money working out”. I had been toying with the idea of going back to my full time career, as being home full time wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be for me.
I wanted to interact with other adults where I wasn’t the mother of or the wife of someone else. I wanted to go back to being Erin.
And the gym offered free babysitting for my then toddler!
I was a nervous wreck before my first spin class. There was traffic and in an attempt to not be late, I ran a stop sign in front of a police officer! The only ticket I have ever received in my life.
My first class was not pretty, but I got through it.
Within a couple of classes, I found my rhythm. I began to look to forward to teaching and a following started to form! I made a point of being the best spin teacher I could be. I took every training and in-service within 60 miles of my house. I taught spin throughout my pregnancy with my son, and my regulars were on my group email announcing his name and weight. Over time, I added Vinyasa Yoga, Classical Pilates, TRX and Barre to my list of certifications. At my peak, I was teaching 15-20 classes a week.
Three years ago, I started to get into wellness.
I began a course in Integrative Nutrition and when I needed client volunteers, my first ones were my spin students. I asked them after New Years if they wanted free coaching, and they became my testimonials. I cut back to just spinning and took the first step in my wellness coaching business.
In the summer of 2017, I was offered a book deal. Early that fall, I looked at my schedule for the October and November and I was going to be traveling more than I was going to be home. For months before, I had been away a great deal due to conferences, workshops and retreats, and had been subbing my classes out. My husband brought up the idea of giving up teaching, but I immediately told him NO! “I love my regulars and things will calm down”.
However, the club managers were not thrilled with how often I was subbing out, the substitute teachers seemed exasperated at having to fill in so often and the regulars were grumpy. I would have to stop writing an article, or have to move clients around to be available to teach the 12:15. Even though I still loved it, financially it didn’t make any sense.
I knew I had to give up my regular scheduled classes, but I didn’t want to. I loved teaching. I would drop my kids off at school, listening to an upcoming class playlist so I knew the playlist well when it came time to teach.
When other people’s children knew all the words to “The Wheels on the Bus” mine knew “Baby Got Back”.
I knew all about my regulars’ lives and their fitness goals. I would remember injuries, or personal fitness goals. When it was their birthdays, I would make a special class full of their favourite songs. I truly cared about teaching my people and wanted them to get the best workout they could from me.
My last regular class was in early October and I was thankful I was traveling the majority of the next two months, as I needed the distraction. When I was back home I felt major discomfort during the times I would have been teaching or preparing for my classes. I was feeling tense and uncomfortable and was hoping the new teachers were doing the right thing with MY classes. I even reached out to my regulars to see if they wanted to get together for dinner, as I missed them.
A friend recently asked if I gained weight once I stopped teaching and the answer is no, as teaching was never a way to control my weight. The circumstance I was wrestling with was a life without teaching. Yes, my business was taking off, and I truly didn’t have the time to commit like I once did. However, I missed interacting with my students, picking out a playlist and leading them on a great ride.
I had a sense of loss over not connecting with my crew like I had for so many years, and motivating them to push themselves to the next level, a place they reluctantly admitted they never would have never gone without my encouragement.
In early January, I was called in to sub with an hours notice! Sure, I had told the gym I could sub if needed, but was busy every other time they needed me. I felt as nervous as I did that first class, 11 years ago, even with hundreds of playlists on my iPod. It took me a song or two to get back into the flow, but my old regulars were thrilled I made a guest appearance and everything was great by the end. You could say it was like riding a bike!
I have been given more opportunities to sub lately and it has been tempting to pick up a few classes, but I haven’t. I originally got into teaching so I wouldn’t just be someone’s Mom or wife and that is no longer an issue. It doesn’t mean I can hear a song in a movie and not imagine it as a warm up spin song or have to remind myself on Thursday night that I do not have to teach the Friday am.