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High school kids can be hard work

A group fitness class given to high school students is one of the hardest ones for an instructor. Picture this: you walk into the room while the teacher is trying to maintain control over an energetic, unfocused bunch, and you can tell that 80% of them aren’t that excited that you are there. Some of the kids are telling the teacher they are injured, while others have conveniently forgotten their gym gear. Yep, this is when I feel really loved as an instructor. 

I can understand why the kids feel this way. They are surrounded by their peers and being asked to engage in a physical activity that could highlight a lack of co-ordination, which makes them feel ultra self-conscious. They are uncomfortable, so they reject it.  It’s no wonder they don’t jump to their feet with enthusiasm when I tell them it’s time to start! 

This is a challenging environment for an instructor but believe it or not, I love it. I know that most students think that the fitness class is a joke, and even if they did enjoy it they would never admit it to their mates. But when I do my job well, it’s very rewarding: I’m able to take them to a place where they are no longer self-conscious and where they enjoy some of the great things about group fitness. 

A while ago I was teaching one of these classes at St Andrews College. The class I had was full of first XV rugby boys. Just about all of them had suddenly succumbed to injury - it must have been a rough lunch break - and they “couldn’t” participate. The captain of the team was the only player who was participating at the beginning. 

The class started and I could tell he wasn’t comfortable in the movement, but he stuck at it. As the class went on he started to find his feet, hitting the movements at the right time, and by the end of the class he was making lots of noise like the rest of the kids. 

As I was biking away from the school after the class I remember thinking that this guy was going to do well in life. Not because he was obviously a good rugby player at a top rugby school, but because he was willing to try a new experience even when he was uncomfortable and his peers had decided it was uncool. I respected this young man.

How many days of your life are the same? Really, is each day just a copy and paste of the next? A rich life is one that is full of many different types of experiences. Often the days you remember forever are the ones where you try new experiences. This can be scary, difficult and outside your comfort zone but when you do it the reward is great. When you are presented with an opportunity to try something new, give it a chance. Your life will be richer for it and you’ll open up your thinking to greater possibilities. 

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Reader Comments (2)

Instructors... don't forget that with EVERY class of newbies, you have the opportunity to change lives and to inspire people.

I will never forget my introduction to bodyjam... 8 years ago, in a school PE class. I was in year 11 and was already participating occasionally in bodybalance and bodycombat. I was shy, awkward, a bit goofy and more than a little unco-ordinated. No dance background. The first jam class we did, I fell over 3 times, and said I wasn't ever setting foot in a gym again as it was stupid.

The instructor somehow managed to get me to give it another go... a few weeks later I was LOVING it.

A few years later I was STILL loving it.

I did my first training - bodystep - in November 2008, and it's been such an amazing ride. I'm now trained in four programs, and taught my first jam class on Friday.

To this day, I am so grateful for what I experienced at school.

Never underestimate what the awkward kid in the back row can do.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Great article Bevan!
Sometimes, being out of your comfort zone even pushes you harder and makes you better.
It reminds me when I start Attack & Pump back in 2007.
I thought I could not finish these 2 classes. But I tried to hang on and think about all the positive things they can bring to me..
But now, it's amazing that I'm so addicted ;-)

November 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBao Trung

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