Covid-19 Observations of a Les Mills Fitness Instructor

  • Doing a class at home is a hundred times harder than teaching a class in a gym.
  • It’s also really hard to not just stop half way through a session at home and start doing random household tasks… like dusting your lightshades!
  • You may find yourself randomly looking around the room and randomly smiling at nobody as you do a class at home.
  • You’re probably already wondering if you’ll remember how to teach when gyms reopen.
  • When gyms closed you thought to yourself I’m going to have all this time to learn the new releases, I may even script.
  • Two weeks in you haven’t touched them and have realised you’ll still probably leave it until the week before to learn them.
  • Logging into a quarterly webinar and not being able to talk or be seen on camera seems weird now we are all Zoom experts.
  • You’ve listened to so many different explanations of why we can’t use the music to teach classes online you should be a PPL PRS music licencing expert but actually you still don’t really understand because Zumba don’t seem to be having the same problem.
  • You have however strangely enjoyed doing a bit of freestyle teaching or body weight training.
  • You’ve probably taken up running.
  • And if you were already a runner you’re now shocked by the number of runners you now see out each day.  Like really, I used to be able to run in my park without passing a soul now it’s like the Great Manchester Run out there!
  • You are now coming to the realisation that you can’t eat like you normally do because now you’re not always on the move.  You miss classes and members of course but secretly this is why you really want to gt back to teaching as soon as possible.
  • You’re worried your chocolate consumption may mean you won’t be able to jump when we return.
  • You’ve actually wondered if Smart Start also applies to the instructor.
  • You’re already starting to dread the DOMs you will feel after that first class back.
  • And the saddle soreness!
  • You don’t need to wear gym kit every day now but you still do. Because that’s all you own.
  • You still randomly instinctively put batteries in your basket at the supermarket and you will have a battery stockpile by the time you return to teaching.
  • Listening to other music is a revelation.
  • You miss you class members and realise that teaching is really only about the people, the rest of it is all just pointless stress if you take a step back and look logically.  In the last week before gyms closed and we knew every class could be the last for a while nobody cared if you got things wrong or your coaching wasn’t perfect, we all jut moved and enjoyed it and went for it because it served a benefit to all of us at a stressful time.  We stress far too much about silly things normally and when we return we should all remember this.

Tribal Gathering and Nerves

This time last week I went to Les Mills Tribal Gathering in Twickenham (London).

I’d ummed and ahhed about going, booking a space but not booking travel until the week before.  I like going and trying the new releases and meeting people (and to be fair now unlimited CPD is now included in the price of your music I kind of think why not go to as much as possible, I’m quite keen on self development and learning).  Equally however I always feel a bit apprehensive going to these things alone.

It was interesting to read on some social media forums this week that I’m not alone in feeling this way.  Logically you know it isn’t the case that everyone has gone with a massive group of people and knows everyone, but when you walk into a room of chattering noise alone it can feel that way.

I’m fortunate I know quite a few Les Mills instructors around the country and have spoken to so many people via social media over the last couple of years that there’s always people I know pretty well without having ever met who I can catch up with, and it’s brilliant to put real faces to names (this is another reason I love travelling a bit further to these events – getting to meet those people).  Equally, I’m naturally quite a shy anxious person so, even with all those absolute positives, there can be moments in the day when it feels a bit overwhelming and you just want to see a familiar face.

I was planning to write a blog on the topic and then saw the posts bringing the topic up and I think it’s really positive that people feel they can have these conversations and highlight those feelings, because sometimes there’s an urge to hide them away for fear of looking weak or like a billy no mates.  In highlighting that it’s common for people to feel a bit nervous and alone at these events it encourages you to make the effort to speak to strangers, go up to people on there own and say hi and generally make a brilliant event even better. 

I know, even though I get a bit nervous at these things, I can make conversations with people I’ve not met so it’s manageable for me, but for some people perhaps we need to be the one to go and break the ice and that’s a great reminder for us all.  Equally, some people may look quite confident (I will go and chat to people I don’t know which may make me appear more outgoing than I feel) but be anxious behind that, so just smiling and saying hi to everyone is a great way to go.

It also made me remember how our new participants feel when they first walk into class.  That feeling that everyone seems to know everyone and what they are doing and perhaps they don’t really belong here.  It’s a great reminder of the care we need to take to make them feel welcome. 

It is also worth while remembering what we would say to that participant and applying that to ourselves in a situation like this.

Ultimately, I know that it’s ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes, it’s good to make yourself do those things you’re a bit scared of sometimes even.  I also know by going and enjoying the day, even if there were times I was a bit lost or nervous I overcame those feelings a bit.  I had a great day, met some brilliant people in real life who I’ve known via Facebook for a while and next time I go to a Tribal Gathering alone I have a couple of positive experiences of doing so behind me to help me reduce the nerves (I also travelled to Glasgow alone).

What can I suggest you do if you’re nervous about going to the next Tribal Gathering alone or if you want to try a class at your gym but are anxious about making that first step?

  1.  We all get nervous about stepping out our comfort zones (hopefully the above demonstrates that) – knowing these feelings are not exclusive to you can reduce their impact.

2. Find out whose going who you do know and arrange to meet before hand so you have someone to walk in with – those first few moments are normally the ones that are the hardest and once you’re moving it’s not so bad.

3. Take some time out if you need to during the event. Grab a coffee and a quiet spot and regroup (but Tribal specific that one!)

4. If you’re new to a class let the instructor know you’re a bit nervous – they’ll help ease those nerves and make sure you have a good first class… now if you’re at Tribal you might not be able to speak to the presenter beforehand but you can chat to those around you – let’s face it they too are all instructors!

5. Remember it’s always ok to leave. I can almost guarantee once you’re there you’ll have fun and decide not to, but knowing that at the start of the day / the class can help get you through the door.

Sometimes doing things you actually want to do is still hard because our brains get in the way of us – there’s ways to get over that though!

5 Reasons Group Ex Instructors should consider signing up to Jump 4.2

Hello!

So today’s blog is actually a video. If you follow my blog you know I’ve been blogging about my progress on the fitness nutrition and mindset programme Jump 4.2. This is a bit of a follow up to that where I explain 5 reasons why any group ex instructors or regular participants who train a lot but aren’t getting the results they want should consider doing Jump.

I’m not your traditional advert for a fitness programme. I haven’t had a massive physical transformation in 8 weeks – I haven’t developed a six-pack. What I have gained from working with Ricky is a healthy relationship with food, my training and my own head. I can have weeks where I eat too much and don’t train of course, but now I can deal with them – they don’t derail my progress or make me feel like I need to start again. I know what I can achieve if I want to get super lean, equally I know where my happy place is where I’m fit, healthy and able to enjoy life.

I think that’s what most of us really want. Most of us don’t want to give up cake and cocktails or spend hours in the gym in exchange for abs- we just want to feel good whilst still enjoying our favourite indulgences. If that’s you then I’m the proof that Jump 4.2 works – I’m the most boring yet honest advertisement going!

The last intake in 2019 opens on 1st September. If you are interested and have any questions you can contact me on instagram DM @heather.sherwood or Ricky Long @rickylong42 or @jump4.2.

I have a couple of discount codes for 15% off – if you would like to sign up with a discount drop me a message.

Anyway – here’s my video!

Jump 4.2 Video

Les Mills Launches Are Coming

For the Les Mills Instructors among us launches are coming!

One thing that keeps cropping up in conversation this week is how hard it is to keep on top of your training, nutrition and positive habits whilst also learning new choreography.

Here’s my ideas for getting through the next 10 days of cramming and still feel good about YOU:

1. If you can, meal prep once a week, that’s going to mean you have good choices ready to grab and stick in the microwave and reduce the chances of getting a takeaway when you are tired and busy cramming.

2. Same with snacks – have lots of good snacks to hand because learning chorey always makes you want to snack – FACT!

3. Another option for these two weeks each quarter is order a week or two of meal prep to completely avoid the stress of thinking about food yet stay on track!  If you’re prone to buying food rather than planning when you are busy leaning the new stuff this could actually end up more cost efficient anyway.

4. If you’re short of time drop out the cardio element in your training sessions and use your physical practice sessions as your cardio. Added bonus is that going all out at least once when practicing the new releases means you’ll be prepared for how it’s going to feel on launch day!

5. Don’t be an all or nothing person…

Do you know what positive habits you practice daily?  Perhaps you have a great morning or evening routine or drink a pint of water upon waking, maybe you always pack your bag the night before.  ALL those little things help add up to a positive mindset and approach to your health. IF you don’t train for a week or end up going over your calorie goal a few times you haven’t gone off the rails and lost all progress / fitness levels – keep up with those little daily habits and everything will still be in place for you post launch!

6. You are in control – one of the best ways to make lifestyle changes is to create systems. One systems could be to take some time to plan in appointments for when you will learn chorey and stick to those appointments. Feeling more in control of how you use your time can help reduce stress levels even if you’re still crazy busy!

7. Don’t create undue stress for yourself- you’ve got new stuff to learn. So the week or two before launch I like to go back to my go to tracks, the ones I know in my sleep- you haven’t got to add extra pressure to yourself by learning members requests or extra tracks for your current mix if you’re already feeling pressure (be honest the ones you know in your sleep are actually probably the members favourites anyway, hence why you know them so well!)

8. Sleep. Sleep helps you retain information – being tired doesn’t, so no matter what you need to let slide for a few days don’t make it sleep!

9. That being said don’t beat yourself up about letting the not important stuff slide.  You will know what is a non negotiable in your life.  Yes, you will need to keep balancing those plates, but everything else, well it will still be there on 7th July.

10. The week after launch can also be a tough week physically – all the adrenaline from learning and then teaching for the first time is draining and I often feel more tired and emotional the week after. So if that happens don’t beat yourself up, a few days off training can be beneficial in cases like that.

I hope some of the above ideas help, and if you aren’t a Les Mills instructor many of these ideas would also work for other stressful situations not just launches!

This blog is based on some of the principles we work on developing in Jump 4.2 – an 8 week online fitness, nutrition and mindset programmes designed specifically with group ex instructors and enthusiast in mind. If you want to find out more click the link below to get details for the next intake on July 1st.

Jump Priority List

Tribal Gathering Manchester 01.06.19

On Saturday I went to Les Mills Tribal Gathering in Manchester.

This is an opportunity for instructors to try out the new releases and catch up with one another, and this one was a bit special because the Programme Director for Body Pump and RPM, Glen, flew over from New Zealand to teach.

It’s a long day- I was up at 6.00 am and got to bed at 3.30 am the next day!

Below is a 5 minute video to give you an idea of what a day at a Tribal Gathering is like!

P.s. I am not a good camera woman but I thought this would be more interesting than me writing about it!

 

Post Launch Feels

By now most of the Les Mills instructors reading this will have taught the new releases at least once (I literally just finished teaching my first solo run of Body Combat, did Body Pump this morning).

My thought process at this point each and every quarter (pretty sure I’m not alone):

  1. Thank *** for that.
  2. That went better than expected (i.e. I didn’t have a brain freeze and just stand there staring blankly at the class – therefore I win!).
  3. I actually like that release a lot more than I thought I did.
  4. I want to go and sit in a quiet dark room for a while.
  5. I will now almost definitely get some kind of cold as my body relaxes and the adrenaline subsides!
  6. Next quarter I will be better at learning and not stress myself out panic learning the cool down the night before.
  7. I lie to myself a lot.
  8. Also the cool down is legit the hardest part of every release to learn!
  9. My body hurts. Why are all classes so much harder when you do them in a class situation than when you practice?
  10. I get to listen to normal music again instead of the same twenty songs on repeat whilst doing finger choreography.
  11. Except to be honest I don’t want to listen to any music at all right now – my brain just want quiet.
  12. I’m so glad I don’t have to do this again for another three months.  Three months of being able to teach without pre – game nerves and brain overload.
  13. Looks on Facebook – someone is already talking about mixing … Like can we not have a couple of weeks to enjoy this one before we need to worry about remembering other stuff!?
  14. Gets home, eats chocolate because teaching the new ones successfully earns you chocolate.  Possibly add wine.
  15. Go to bed- dream about choreography because now it’s ingrained in your brain (why is it never ingrained in your brain ahead of teaching it!?).

Why I Love Group Exercise

I’m a fan of Group Exercise, it was how I first ‘got into’ the gym and I now teach 8+ classes myself a week.  I think Group Exercise actually works really well, and I don’t just mean classes – team sports, running clubs – I believe all the ways that people can train with others can have a beneficial effect on people.

  1. It can help you get started – Going into the gym alone at first can be daunting when you have no idea where to start.  A class or a running programme like Couch to 5k provides structure and allows you to get moving in a way you can be confident is safe and effective.
  2. It keeps you committed –  Signing up to a class or joining a team or club where there are set days and times to attend means you are less likely to decide you’d rather go home and veg in front of the TV at the end of a long day.
  3. It can make you work harder – A team sport encourages you to perform you best for your team mates, running as part of a club can encourage you to keep to a set pace, the music, instructor and people around you in a class can make you try as hard as you can for the whole length of the class.  For many there is something about a group that makes you try harder than when you are left to your own devices in the gym.
  4. You have a ready made exercise support network – Especially relevant when you are starting to create new habits.  Your family and friends might not get your commitment to picking a spin class over a Netflix binge at first, the other people in that class will, making all the difference in you not feeling like some kind of freak!  And if you ever aren’t sure about something there’s a whole group of people who might be able to help, in particular, you will also have an instructor or coach who has the knowledge to help you improve at whatever you have chosen to do.
  5. It’s social – You will make friends at a club or in a class.  You get to meet people from different backgrounds and get to know people outside of your normal work / social circle.  This in itself will make sticking to your exercise plans easier.
  6. It can increase your confidence – The group environment and having an instructor or coach to hand can give you the confidence to try new tings, maybe adding a new type of class to your week or running a longer distance.  All the things above can help create an environment where your confidence can grow.

I do like training in the gym by myself too but for pure enjoyment I would always pick a group exercise class as my training of choice that day.

Do you prefer to train alone or as part of a group?

Twenty Things You’ll Know if your a Les Mills Instructor

 

  1. You can make reference to Dan, Rachel, Glen, Lisa and Diana to any fellow instructor confident they will know exactly who you are talking about- we have no need for surnames here.
  2. Except for Kylie Gates- for some reason, you will always full name Kylie Gates.
  3. You have at least one friend on Facebook you know only through the LM Facebook page.
  4. You probably like spamming Facebook posts with pictures of cats…
  5. You can actually hold a debate about the use of dumbbells for at least an hour, even though you don’t really care because essentially a 5kg dumbbell weighs the same as a 5kg plate and is just easier to hold than most plates.
  6. Reading the comments section is often more entertaining than [insert programme you find entertaining here]
  7. People who put an F in the comment section haven’t yet realised that you can follow a post by turning on notifications.
  8. You are keeping an eye out for a No Time For Average vest on the Vintage Emporium page.
  9. You probably have an opinion on the best trainers to wear for Body Attack.
  10. Body Jammers have to sign a secret agreement that they will wear a checked shirt around their waist at all times on Initial Module Training.
  11. All Combaters secretly wish they’d bring gloves back because gloves make you feel badass.
  12. You will either download the little recommended launch schedule at the start of the year or you will ask for it on Facebook every quarter – even though it’s saved in the File Section.
  13. At some point you will have mimed out choreography in a bar. And your non Les Mills friends thought it was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. … Honest…
  14. This is where fellow instructor friends come into their own – because they WILL think it’s hilarious – and join in.
  15. Turning up to events in the same outfit as others is less of a fashion faux pas in Les Mills land compared to the rest of the world – in fact it’s expected.
  16. You will always find us in Nandos pre or post events.
  17. You can practice an entire release of Pump choreography with your little finger.
  18. You must be able to whoop and clap in tandem in order to pass Body Attack.
  19. Body Combat instructors would be great to have around in the event of a fight as long as that fight was carried out to a eight-count beat with modified martial arts moves.
  20. Can someone cover my Body Step class. TIA? I’m not going to say when or where the class is because that would be too easy…

What (I Think) You Should Know Before Your Group Ex Training (Re- Blog)

I don’t mean how the course is structured, what it will cover or what you need to do to pass.

This isn’t what you need to know.

I mean the important things – the things no one tells you – the things I wish I’d have known the first time I went on each of these!

ETM

  • You will spend approx 6 weeks grapevining. Constantly.
  • To bad music.
  • And by bad music – I mean the type of music I love- I loved the sound track for my ETM. I believe I am in a minority of one on this.
  • You will get DOMS – specifically in your calf’s (blame the above grapevining).
  • On day one you will realise that moving to the beat is one thing. Talking at the same time? Different matter.
  • It’s ok though because on day 2 you’ll start to get the hang of this.
  • You will start putting together your assessment class and decide a knee repeater is the best move ever and design your whole routine around it. It’s going to b the most creative ETM routine EVER. A masterpiece.
  • Then you’ll realise how hard it is to find five progressions for a repeater knee and pick another move. Any move.  Probably the box step.
  • In fact you will have a grapevine and box step in your routine – I’m willing to put money on it.
  • The practical days are long.
  • On day one you will take a packed lunch of spinach and carrot juice. Because fitness instructors are healthy.  And role models.
  • On day two you will take bread and Haribo. Because bread and Haribos will ensure your survival.
  • You will start to consider injecting coffee into your eyeballs as the weeks progress.
  • You will bribe friends into letting you practice on them.
  • They will tell you how amazing you are doing. Even though you’re still shit at this stage.
  • You will cry. At least once.
  • And by once I mean probably at least once a day.
  • On the assessment day you will do your assessment plus take part in several others. Everyone there will be slightly shell shocked with how hard 3 hours of old school aerobics actually is.  I return to your calf’s.  You will probably cry.

IMT (Les Mills)

  • You will spend more time learning your allocated track than you ever spend learning entire releases going forward.
  • You will write a script that Shakespeare would be in awe of ahead of your first presentation.
  • During the first morning you will realise you need to say completely different things to what you’ve scripted and have to start again.
  • You are going to have to introduce yourself and your mind will go completely blank when you try to recall an interesting fact about yourself. Everyone else will do the same and you will think you are the most boring group of people in existence.
  • You will remember the magic powers of Haribo (pic n mix also works well as do Jelly Babies) from ETM and will have come prepared this time.
  • Remember coffee? Yep still vital.
  • You probably signed up to do this course because you thought you were OK at the class right? Wrong – the technique session will convince you otherwise.
  • You will second guess any answer you go to give to any question – What is a layer 1 coaching cue for a squat? What would you say in a class introduction for Body Combat? What is your name? No idea mate.
  • You will feel like you are about to fall asleep around about 3 pm both days – hello Haribos.
  • You want to be perfect. You will panic because you aren’t – you will probably not pass because you definitely don’t move like Lisa O or Rachel.  You do not need to panic about this.  I mean you don’t move like them but you don’t need to.
  • There is an exam on Les Mills on day 2 (kind of)!
  • You are going to have to get used to group selfies. Because these are part of instructor life and if you don’t have a selfie at the end of a course they don’t update your result on the portal so

DVD Submission (Les Mills)

  • Passing the IMT will definitely be the hardest part right? Erm sorry mate but no.
  • Nobody likes filming for certification – but there’s no way round it, not even bribery, I’ve tried!
  • You will practice and script this release to the point you will be able to teach it off the cuff for the rest of your natural life- and probably for several years after you die.
  • Then as soon as the camera is on you will mess up the first rep of the warm up. Even though you can teach this in your sleep.
  • You will film on average 276 times before you are happy with it to submit for your first programme. This number reduces dramatically as the number of programmes you teach grows.
  • Someone will walk in half way through the warm up. They will probably position themselves in front of the camera.
  • It is the law to wear full on Reebok for these filmings. If you wear Combat gear for a Pump DVD or vice versa you will be put on a special watch list and may not pass.
  • The camera will probably stop recording half way through the class- this will be the class that is perfect and you would have definitely submitted on.
  • It may take you several weeks to get a filming you are happy with. It will then take you six months to upload it onto the portal.
  • During this time you will come across Jon from the office. We like Jon.
  • When you pass if you don’t post your certificate on Facebook with an Oscar Style thank you speech they withdraw certification (perhaps).

*Please note some of this “may”be a bit tounge in cheek

First Day Back Pain

Today was my first time teaching a group exercise class for over 3 weeks.

Group Cycle.

I have trained over those thee weeks of course, but with much less intensity and frequency than normal.

Everyone in the class was in pretty much the same boat.  Everyone trains several times a week and did some exercise over Christmas but took their foot off the gas for a bit and had a well deserved rest.

We all hurt during hat class today!

Physically and mentally it felt tough great to be back but definitely a shock to the system.

To be honest by next week we will all probably be back to normal and whilst classes always feel hard we won’t feel like we did today (basically we all were pretty much ready to stop by the half way point!), because you don’t loose your fitness with a three week recovery.

My point.

If you are a regular class / gym goer heading back after the Christmas break don’t stress.  A break (whether it was total or a reduction to your normal routine) is good for you every now and then.  It can reignite your enjoyment and let your body recover and whilst the first couple of sessions back might feel hard ultimately performance can improve when you allow yourself adequate recovery time.  We all had a laugh today about how knackered e felt and adjusted our intensity to alow us to get the session done.

If you are new.  Hopefully what I’ve just said above will help you relax.  Those people you see in classes or the gym who know what they are doing – I can almost guarantee they will be struggling to get back to it after Christmas – so if you are exhausted 10 minutes into a class that’s ok – at this time of year you are honestly not on your own with that – even the instructors are feeling the same as you!

The other good bit of news is that just as getting back into the swing of things happens quicker than you think it will, so can starting to feel results when you first start.  Of course I am not suggesting that you’ll reach your goal within weeks – it does not work like that but will the things that at first make you feel impossible start to feel a bit more manageable within a few weeks? With a consistent approach yes.

To everyone coming back to classes / gym sessions / their normal routine this week do not beat yourself up about taking that break or feeling more knackered than normal in the first few sessions.