26 Things Your Group Fitness Instructor Won’t Tell You

Updated: May 08, 2018

Fitness instructors from across the country vent about what pushes their buttons, and reveal what you should know before arriving to the fitness studio.

Portrait of young women exercising in aerobics class. Three females doing workout together in gym.
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Follow my lead

I get aggravated when students do a different workout than the one I’m teaching — and they’re in the front row! You come to class but choose to do your own thing… really, what’s the point?! Avoid these moves that fitness instructors think are a waste of time.

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It takes a lot to be entertaining, funny, and likable

All while trying to motivate people to do things that will cause them pain. I think the 80’s thong leotards and side-ponytails gave aerobics instructors a bad rap. We’re also not all super bubbly and rail-thin.

Fitness man looking to the phone for motivation before gym workout. Sporty male athlete looking his smartphone holding water bottle.

Leave your cell at home

Can you not exercise for an hour without checking your text messages?

Close up abstract background from chewing gum plates
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Yes, I’ve embarrassed myself

I was chewing gum while teaching and it flew out and stuck onto the mirror in front of me during class. Oh, and it was bright green!

Barista in apron is holding in hands hot cappuccino in white takeaway paper cup. Coffee take away at cafe shop
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Coffee’s my friend

When I don’t feel like teaching I have a GIANT cup of coffee. I usually don’t feel like teaching when I’m tired or run down, so caffeine usually does the trick. And if that fails, keep smiling. As the saying goes, fake it ‘til you make it! These are secrets your weight-loss trainer won’t tell you.

Caucasian woman working out in gym. Young female in a stretching pose at fitness studio.
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Preparing is a lot of work!

Pre-choreographed classes, like BodyPump and Turbo Kickboxing, take hours of prep. We’re sent materials every 6 weeks and we have to review and learn all the music and choreography before we teach it to you.

the black and white scale
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Stop weighing yourself constantly

Newbies expect miracles without realizing that while the added muscle may not make the scale drop, it will bring the pants’ size down. But you can’t change your physique simply by working out; 80 percent of any change and fat loss is the result of a clean diet.

Intense fitness training in gym. Woman working out with full strength in class at health club.
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I wish you’d be more vocal

When you’ve had a great workout, but save the moaning, grunts, and other weird noises for home.

Close up details of loudspeaker woofer and tweeter driver.
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Music matters

When I want you to work hard, I use really upbeat songs with pounding bass. If we’re doing something that requires a slower tempo, I turn it down. If the music sucks it doesn’t matter how high energy or good the instructor is. It’s also about what I like. If it’s not something I’d work out to, it never makes it to the class playlist.

Group of young sporty people practicing yoga lesson with instructor, stretching in Downward facing dog exercise, adho mukha svanasana pose, working out, indoor full length, students training, studio

Dress appropriately

Ladies, consider wearing a cami or additional liner under your low cut Lululemon or Lucy yoga tops. I get an eyeful I really don’t wish to see when you’re in downward dog. And guys, don’t forget your liner shorts! I don’t want to see anything poking through your gym shorts in class! Try these gym hacks to make your workout less of a chore.

Portrait of modern trendy sportsman sitting in sunlight by window listening to music in big headphones with eyes closed, resting after gym workout behind row of treadmills

We don’t all have perfect relationships with health and fitness

People assume we spend our days eating salad without dressing and train ALL the time. Sometimes I’m tired, cranky, hungry, or want a pizza but I have to put on the show. Sometimes I want to veg out and eat junk food, and sometimes I actually do!

A sick woman in bed

When you’re sick, stay home

You may want to sweat out your cold or flu, but I don’t want your germs, especially when you want a really good workout and position yourself in the front row and cough and sneeze your way through the class.

Beautiful fitness man with weights drinking water. after training
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It kills me when you come into the fitness studio without water

Proper hydration is just so important that I mandate a water break just after the turbo section of class. It’s my biggest pet peeve because I am going to make you sweat!

Fitness Instructor In Exercise Class For Overweight People
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Anything goes

Sometimes, I review the order of my exercises. Sometimes, I just fly by the seat of my pants… no plan, just fun! Other times, I completely check out mentally during class. These are the secrets your gym doesn’t want you to know.

Young fit sporty woman with painful face expression doing hard difficult plank fitness exercise or push press ups feeling pain in muscles at diverse group training class in gym, endurance concept

Be careful what you complain about

When I’m cranky and short-tempered I’m more likely to make you do something hard and brutal because you whined about something else.

Young woman choosing music for sports training
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Music helps me bring some of my personality to the table

It also helps me connect with students; I take requests and will download songs for them. Who wouldn’t want an instructor to play their personal power song?!

Young beautiful yoga female posing in studio

I’m constantly learning

I prepare classes by reading, watching videos, attending workshops, and taking other instructor’s classes. I can’t tell you how many times my family’s walked into my office only to find me on the floor contorted into some unusual position for the latest ab or outer-thigh exercise that I have just discovered online. They used to ask what I was doing, but now they leave before I force them to give it a try.

Tired woman sitting on the stairs with bottle of water in gym
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When I don’t feel like teaching, I grab a straw and suck it up

People pay us good money to train them, so even on our “off days” we have to put on that smile and bring the energy.

Fit young people lifting barbells over their heads looking focused, working out in a gym with other people

Everyone started somewhere

Don’t worry if other people are using heavier weights, higher steps, or going farther while stretching. The fact that you are there participating at all is the most important thing. You have everyone’s respect as long as you show up and give your best effort, and no one can ask for more than that!

Tired man sitting on the bench at the gym

It irritates me the most when you refuse to try

Fitness is one of the only things in life where you can achieve success simply by trying harder than you did yesterday. This is the scientific reason group exercise is better for you.

Group of young sporty people practicing yoga lesson with instructor, stretching, doing Glute Bridge exercise, female teacher correcting dvi pada pithasana pose, working out, indoor full length, studio

Work within your own limits and abilities

If I suggest a modification for an exercise, it would be helpful if you’d follow the suggested guideline. It’s for your own good!

Young attractive sporty woman doing crisscross, bicycle crunches, fitness exercise, working out, wearing black sportswear, cool urban style, full length, grey studio background, side view

Some exercises make people fart

Get over it. Reverse crunches do especially, most particularly while squeezing and lifting a fit ball. I think it means that they are working hard, and giving a huge effort. Some people I think are so mortified when it happens that they leave class that day and never come back. I wish they wouldn’t care as much. I don’t!

Women practicing yoga at health club. Young girls talking and relaxing after fitness, Yoga instructor speaks on the phone after training, lifestyle concept

I’m not your doctor

I’m also not your therapist.

Woman check Heart rate app on Apple Watch After Working out
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Be on time

Showing up late to class is rude and disrupts everyone. Plus, you miss the most important part of class — the warm-up! The best is when you walk in, 5 minutes after class starts, to set up your bike or your mat and you’re on the phone!

Close-up of hands of a man biking in the gym, exercising legs doing cardio workout cycling bikes. Couple in a spinning class wearing sportswear.

This isn’t my only job

And I wish you wouldn’t assume we’re all meatheads who enjoy working out 24/7.

Portrait relaxed concentrated young active attractive woman doing core muscle exercises on fit-ball outdoor, copy space.
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We bear witness to embarrassment

One time, a yoga ball popped while a heavier gentleman was on it. (It was a “yoga” ball and not a standard, durable, Swiss Ball.) I was mortified.

Senior man in gym working out on gymnastic rings

I’m pretty open with my classes

I find a healthy amount of openness with my students helps them see me as a person who just loves exercise, not some sort of Goddess on a pedestal. Avoid these mistakes that you’re most likely making in your group fitness class.