I am so, so, so excited to introduce Kate Finamore, Director of TRUE GRIT at TRUE Health and Wholeness in Arlington (and also my sister), as our first contributor to CTF! Kate has 20+ years experience in the fitness biz but she is undoubtedly known for her expertise in all things GROUP FIT! She is, without question, a Group Fit Guru.
Kate approached me about borrowing a little space on CTF to blog about an experiment she is conducting where she will be taste-testing several fitness classes in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church, VA areas using a two week free membership to ClassPass; a service that, with membership, allows you entrance to a number of boutique fitness classes such barre or cycle classes without needing to “belong” to any one gym/studio.
I, of course, JUMPED at the opportunity to hear her thoughts on these classes and as we collaborated to get her first review up, we realized we could probably do better than just a two week trial series. So… Group Fit Guru was created. Kate will be the major contributor, but I’m likely to add my two cents occasionally as well.
Keep your eyes peeled for more services being added soon, including a phenomenal opportunity for fitness instructors to get direct feedback from Kate on their teaching. Until then, please enjoy Kate’s introductory post to The ClassPass Experiment.
The ClassPass Experiment
I, Kate Finamore, thoroughly ensconced in the world of Les Mills fitness classes for the past ten years, with only trivial dabblings in other fitness offerings, have signed up for a free two week trial with ClassPass. I decided to get out of my box a bit, channel Emma Barry, Kim Schoenauer and my sister (you know her, you love her) and blog about my adventure.
I do not purport to be a good writer. Subcontracting one of the aforementioned bloggers to write for me might produce better posts, but I want to chronicle my experience and see if, in writing and sharing, it helps me learn even more. I am also hoping my sister will do the dirty work of actually formatting this for her blog site as I am new to the blogosphere and if you’re reading this, then she probably did. Thanks, EB.
For what it is worth, I began writing this introduction while sitting in the foyer of a Catholic church. I arrived 30 minutes early to get my kids from school and it was too hot to sit in the car without AC. As a Prius driver, there’s no way I’d leave the car running for 30 minutes, and since sitting in a pew typing away seemed blasphemous, I settled in the breezeway. Divine inspiration? Maybe not.
For the purposes of this blog, there are a few things you should know about me.
- I always refer to females as girls. I realize most of them are actually women, but I just always say girls. If I type “women,” my own writing doesn’t sound like me when I read it back, so I stick with girls. Please don’t be offended.
- Although I am infamously and often loudly opinionated, I actually see the world in about 700 shades of grey and not as black and white and some may think. I hope to show that here.
- I am a career group fitness professional. I have instructed group fitness in some capacity since I was 20 in 1993. Before that, I was an assistant dance instructor. So you might say that I’ve been doing this a long time. I do not care that you now know how old I am. I do care that you understand that I am not a casual observer, and that being good at this job of “group fitness instructor” is a personal mission to me. Though, truth be told, it hasn’t always been this way.
- When I make what appear to be critical observations about classes (or most likely instructors, because I believe the instructor is the heart and soul of any class), I am aware that these people are human beings. I am aware that if they read my comments, their feelings might be hurt. I am also aware that most of the criticisms I have of them are, at least in part, not their fault. If I had not been taught, through many trainings and mentors, how to become a better instructor, I would be guilty of the mistakes/omissions/failures that I have seen in many classes over the years. That said, I hope that any instructor who comes upon my review of his/her class will see the time I put into my review, and know that I am not being critical for entertainment’s sake. I am only offering my observations based on years of experience because I believe it will make every instructor I know (and I know a LOT of instructors) better. It will also help people who take classes (and I know a LOT of people who take classes) to discern how to choose the appropriate class, and not to settle for sub-par instruction. Just because there is a lot of mediocrity out there doesn’t mean we should all be complacent.
I know am not the be-all, end-all of group fitness; not an exercise god with some ethereal name like Athena or Persephone. (I wish.) However, I’m also not some hack who has no idea of whence I speak. Though I have other qualifications, this is not a resume. It’s just a blog post. If you think I’m full of shit, then listing my certifications and self-appointed accomplishments won’t change that.
I once was a mediocre instructor with an ear for awesome music mixes and an ability to choreograph decently interesting and challenging eight counts on floor or step. But I’ve spent a lot of years, a lot of sweat and tears, and a lot of money to become more than that, and I’ve spent the better part of 20 years employed by large fitness companies in positions that gave me the opportunity to help other instructors grow and improve.
This is an opportunity to share my observations, continue to help myself and other instructors become better at our craft, and help participants recognize – and then demand – quality in a class experience. I encourage you to comment, to disagree, and to challenge me, and I look forward to challenging myself by writing about this two week traveling circus of a workout schedule. And trying to blog using fewer parenthetical references.
(What is UP? So many of these…)
First Up: Barre60 at Barre Tech in Del Ray, Alexandria, VA