Three Steps I Take When Learning the Newest Body Jam. (#3 is the key)

I love BodyJam. Like…a lot. It’s part of my license plate. It’s part of my email address. It corners the market on 97.5% of my Facebook posts. I just love it.

Walking in to teach class is one of my favorite things to do every week.

Wait, let me correct that:

Walking into class prepared to teach is one of my favorite things to do each week.

I add “prepared” because showing up to class unprepared might be my very LEAST favorite thing to do. It’s terrifying. It’s an hour of eyes rolled up and back into my head desperately trying to remember what comes next. No connection with people. No connection with the music. Certainly no Fitness Magic. Just. Not. Fun. So I try to never put myself in that position. Because yuck.

I’ve been at this for ten years now, and yes, it’s gotten easier since the days of being absolutely unable to dance and speak at the same time (let alone instruct!) without passing out or wanting to throw up.

That’s the stage I’m in now with RPM. #humbling

As I’m sure many other instructors do, I get asked a lot about the process behind teaching classes. I thought I’d take a post to pull back the curtain a little and write about my experience preparing for launches. I’m sure every instructor has their own way of learning the latest release; it can be a pretty personal thing. So this is just how I prepare for a BodyJam launch. My prep for BodyCombat and now RPM were/are very different and maybe I’ll tackle that in another post.

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Correct Me if I’m Wrong…

I apologize for abandoning you in the middle of the ClassPass Experiment. The problem was that I took no good classes. None. Zero. Zippy. Writing the blog articles became an exercise in how to be entertaining without being mean. Because I had almost nothing nice to say. And I think we have all learned, if you don’t have anything nice to say…

I do have something to say to the group fitness instructors of the world, and also to the group fitness enthusiasts. My hope is both groups benefit from both messages.

No, no. Ones who demonstrate movement.

To the group fitness instructors out there:

That’s what we’re most-often called, I think? Instructors. Sometimes teachers. Occasionally trainers. What else are we? Leaders? Educators? Demonstrators?

My point – we are INSTRUCTors. So why do so many of us shy away from actually INSTRUCTing? In 23 years of teaching group fitness, I know I have had several different answers for this. I’m guessing many instructors reading this will be able to find themselves in one of the following stages of group fitness instruction.

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ClassPass Experiment: JOURNEYoga

ClassPass requires me to review a class after I attend, scale of 1-5 stars.
ClassPass requires me to review a class after I attend, scale of 1-5 stars.

ClassPass #2
JOURNEYoga in Arlington, VA
Thurs, June 11th at noon
Yoga with Stephanie
6 women, 2 men = 8 total attendance


I had to pay $2 to park. Not a good start.

However, I was greeted at the front desk by TWO smiling, warm-feeling people. They handed me a clipboard, asking for a brief medical history and waiver.
I felt immediately welcome and comfortable. They called me by name when I turned in the sheet, and directed me to leave my flip flops in a row of bench topped shoe cubbies in the front desk area. They pointed me to the bathrooms and noted where I could put my backpack once inside the room. My welcome was efficient, friendly, and the people I encountered acted with ownership.

The welcome area was lovely – bright and cheery with a filtered water spigot and coffee, and plenty of places to sit.

They have two rooms – capacities 15 and 30.
Class was held in the big room – high ceilings, stark yet clean décor. But weird HVAC sounds whooshed on and off throughout class. Job well done by Stephanie to find a music level that somehow could be heard over the whooshing, but then not too loud when the HVAC kicked off. Acoustics can be a nightmare for an instructor, so this feat was super impressive to me.

Occasionally during class, we could hear water moving through pipes loudly, I’m guessing from upstairs somewhere – which was a bit distracting. All I could think was – did someone just flush?

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ClassPass Experiment: Barre 60

ClassPass requires me to review a class after I attend, scale of 1-5 stars.)
ClassPass requires me to review a class after I attend, scale of 1-5 stars.

ClassPass #1
Barre60 at Barre Tech in Del Ray, Alexandria, VA
Tuesday, June 9th at 9:30am
Instructor: Amy (owner?)
5 people in class – at least 2 brand new, possibly 3


I arrive 15 minutes early, as the website instructs. Upon arrival, I run into M, a fitness friend of mine, and am immediately happier to be taking class with someone I know.

Note: My experience is already better because I sense even the tiniest bit of camaraderie. I am not unique in this, and I think it is an important point for instructors everywhere. How do we create an immediate sense of community for someone new?

The “urban chic” appearance of Barre Tech is appealing, and inviting, and clean. And the girls waiting are friendly enough.

M and I tell Amy that we’re new. Amy says something positive – like “great!” or “cool,” except I’m guessing not “cool” because she appeared about mid-20s, and I think only 40-somethings say “cool” anymore. Actually, maybe just me and Abed from Community.

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ClassPass Experiment: Disclaimer

I know you are expecting my inaugural review, but now that I am four classes (and four mostly-written reviews) into this adventure, I feel like there are two important points to make before I launch into the first specific class analysis.

ClassPass Review Blog DisclaimerKate post it

I am guilty of just about every criticism noted in every review. Some of these, I’ll call them mistakes, I am happy to say are years behind me. Some occurred as recently as this week. I teach six group fitness classes a week, and I am human.

I am not writing about these classes to complain.

OK, I am not only writing to complain. I am hopeful that I can provide a little mentoring for the current generation of group fitness instructors so that they may learn lessons faster than the 20+ years it has taken me.

I want our industry to be as good as I know it can be. I worry that so many newbie fitness professionals out there seem to think, “if I build it, they will come.”

Many have taken out loans and leveraged their futures to open studios where they are now so mired in the details of ownership that they can’t see the instructors right in front of them.

If big gym chain fitness directors and small fitness boutique owners alike can’t take the time to make instructors better, who will?

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Kate Finamore: Group Fit Guru

Kate Finamore, Director of TRUE GRIT at TRUE Health and Wholeness in Arlington, VA.  CTF’s Group Fit Guru

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.

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Jump Over the Bar. I Dare You.

Welcome back. No big life affirming, ultra introspective post today. Just a story about the woman whose genes I want to borrow. My husband has brought it to my attention that while I have no problem writing about super personal issues in a blog for 10’s of…10’s to read about, I have a really hard time sharing this info in person with the people it affects the most – which I realize now is probably a little frustrating to said people. But until I grow up emotionally enough to be more…direct, I’ll blog. On this particular occasion, I don’t just want the face to face. I want the whole world to know. Kate, this one’s for you.
I know some of you already know who Kate is and if you do, you probably understand why I want what she’s got. But I know some of you don’t know her and so for you, I tell the story of who Kate is to me, who she is to you, and why we need more Kates in the world.

Continue reading “Jump Over the Bar. I Dare You.”