Would you believe that there was a time when I was too afraid of embarrassing myself to take a group fitness class?
In high school, I fell in love with cheerleading and all of the practices, tumbling lessons and workouts that went with it. So, it was only natural that I became a member of the gym across the street from my school in Athens, Ga., good old Ladies First Fitness.
The gym was known for its step classes and the layout was such that the class area was right in the middle of the workout space. There was nowhere to hide. If you took a class, anyone and everyone could see you — and any mistakes you might make. Bear in mind, this was the 1990s, when you had to speak the mysterious language of step to understand the choreography that the instructor called and the coordination necessary to jump, hop and chasse your way around that step.
I would watch the women taking and teaching the class and was always in awe of how they nailed each movement. There was one instructor in particular, Dee Dee, who always impressed the heck out of me. She looked like a Barbie Doll and was a few years older than me. Dee Dee was a cool “college” girl. Her routines were always challenging and fun to watch. And her music was fabulous, too — I first heard the dance mix of “The Train” in one of her classes and still use it in mine today. I wanted to be one of these ladies so badly (it looked like so much fun), but my self-imposed fear of looking foolish kept me off that class floor.
A few years later, I was in school at the University of Florida and worked part time at Gainesville Health and Fitness Club (GHFC). At GHFC, I worked with a woman named “Suzie,” who taught group fitness. One day, she suggested that I come and check out her cardio kickboxing class. Suzie was my cheerleader, and let me know that it was OK to screw up — no one cared. The next thing I knew, I was a regular in Suzie’s class.
A few months later, my mentor announced that she was moving to New York City and needed someone to take over the class. Suzie asked me if I wanted to give it a shot, and I loved the feeling of taking the class so much, I said “yes.”
I’ve been teaching ever since — and even taught for a year at Ladies First in Athens where I’d once been too afraid to even try a class. But I’ve always tried to be “a Suzie” and create a class environment where everyone feels at home, from the person who takes five classes a week to the person who is scared to make a fool of herself. That’s why this has become my motto in class: “I don’t care what you do, even if you do the YMCA, just keep moving!” (Learn more about the classes I currently teach at World Gym Smyrna here.)
Until next Tuesday — here’s to a FWABulous weekend! Oh, and don't forget to take a moment to "like" the FWAB fan page on Facebook. Please help me reach 100 "likes" by the end of March!