Audio Set-Ups to Awkward Hugs: My Journey Back to In-Person Classes
It was a no-brainer. We needed to survive. We bought the microphones, the mixing boards, the computer risers, and the ring lights. We converted our bedrooms, our offices, our garages, and our basements into virtual fitness studios.
Our carefully angled computer screens broadcasted our energized and optimistic faces, and we did the best we could with what we had.
But, to this day, I have yet to meet a fitness instructor who started to teach group fitness because they loved teaching to a screen.
When I ask my fitness friends what had gotten them into teaching group exercise, every single one of them talks about the energy of the people, the connection of the group, and the sensations of the space. It’s powerful when people get together in a room, bodies synchronized to music and to each other, sweating, smiling, and enjoying life.
As a fitness professional, my responsibility is to keep asking: what do my clients need from me today? As a fitness entrepreneur, I get to balance that with: what do I love doing the most?
For me, the magic happens when both answers combine into one. When staying true to my own passions and purpose also serves those I feel called to help.
The ‘logic’ of the decision to keep an online studio (or not) kept me dragging my feet and refusing to close the virtual doors.
“But…families/members are counting on me.”
“I’ve already invested all this money in equipment.”
“The world has evolved, and virtual fitness is a part of the future.”
At the end of the day, I had to get real with myself, and my feelings. I could no longer give my restrictions-inspired business asset the energy it deserved.
In that realization, I was reunited with my calling to bring people together, in person.
Should all fitness instructors who offer virtual studios close their doors? Absolutely not! If you have the energy, enthusiasm, joy, pleasure, satisfaction, and drive to continue serving your community online, go for it! Your members need you and your passion!
I am sharing this story in case anyone out there feels the heaviness of having to keep saying ‘yes’ to something that has become a ‘no’.
I am here to remind you that humans need physical proximity to one another to feel each other’s energy and presence. When we are together, we connect in a completely different way than we do through screens.
A sense of belonging and community can be fostered in any well-facilitated virtual or in-person space, but it’s
…the sensation of another person’s palm as they give you a high-five,
…the sound of sneakers squeaking on the floor next to you,
…the taste of that cold fountain water,
…the way your eyes navigate bodies flexing, jumping, pivoting around you…
…and yes, it’s even that rubber-meets-rockin’-good-time smell of that group exercise studio that awakes all of your senses and brings you into the room, into the presence of others, into the space where the people are.
The effects of being together with others in the same physical space changes our biochemistry, it enlivens our spirits and boosts our mental health.
All of this, simply by being in the same space with one another.
I was hesitant last year to re-launch my in-person group X classes. It felt weird to bring people into a room to bust-a-move and bust-a-sweat together. We had all become so awkward with each other, not just in our dance moves but in our way of being human, together.
The ‘Do you want to shake hands or maybe we shouldn’t?’ introduction.
The ‘I’ve missed you but is it OK to hug you?’ moment.
The ‘It’s okay you can stand/dance/flex/stretch closer to me’ nod.
The ‘This is a lot of energy, but it feels good, and I want more of it, but it’s also too much for me’ waves.
The awkwardness was real, and it quickly melted away. My own hesitation disappeared too when I felt the impact of what we do:
We are fitness instructors – we use the power of music and movement to motivate and transport people into a different state of being.
We invite them into our world through the beat of the music then invite them to connect to the beat of their hearts.
Whether through in-person classes, online spaces, or somewhere in between, take this moment to reflect and re-calibrate – make sure that what you are offering is in alignment with your deepest passion and why you started teaching in the first place: to help people become healthier and happier humans.
Match your motive with teaching methods that serve your clients’ needs and add a business model that allows you to scale and make the impact you know you’re here to make, and you, my friend, will be unstoppable.