Welcome to the first installment of the #FitFam Q&A: a new fitness-focused interview series I’ve decided to add to the blog! Reading and sharing people’s stories is one of the main reasons I love blogging, and this Q&A series will allow for a deeper dive into the local LA fitness scene, its instructors and the latest health/fitness news.
Since wrapping up my fitness certification course last month, I’ve been trying to find the perfect way to share my experience & shed some light on the certification process. So, for this first Q&A, I teamed up with my BFF (best fitness friend AND best gal pal) Lauren to share two perspectives on earning the title of “fitness professional.”
Structure: Combination of reading, lectures, posture clinics and a LOT of partner teaching.
Structure: 12-week guided self-study (reading, workbooks, videos) culminating in final exam.
Q: Why did you choose this particular program to earn your certification?
Lauren: My schedule is super busy, and I needed to find a program that allowed me to work full time, but wouldn’t take up my entire weekend. Because I had been going to Corepower for a while and I loved the studio, I decided to give their training rep a call. Luckily, their schedule fit perfectly with mine and I knew it was meant to be (*cue the fireworks*). It was also really important that my philosophies on yoga aligned with those of the studio where I would be training and this was definitely the case.
What I love about Corepower is how inviting they are – it doesn’t matter if you practice yoga daily or if you’re trying it for the first time – anyone can take a class and everyone will leave feeling accomplished and successful. This is how I want my students to feel when they leave my class. Corepower’s training has a strong emphasis on anatomy, alignment and history – but what really sets it apart is how much you learn about teaching. As a student, you get the opportunity to practice teach every single week. It’s one thing to know how to do something, but it’s an art to learn how to verbalize it – especially if you’re teaching a class that has a combination of first time students and seasoned yogis. This is one of the reasons why I was so excited to train at CPY. If I wanted to learn about yoga, I could go to the library and take out a book. But I wanted to learn how to TEACH yoga, and Corepower gave me that opportunity, by creating an environment where I could practice teach and receive honest feedback.
Natalie: I was tinkering with the idea of earning my certification for a few months before I sat down to really do my research on programs. I had NO idea that you could earn your fitness certification specifically for group fitness. I thought the only option was to become a certified personal trainer and then earn an additional certificate to teach group fitness classes. I wanted to earn my certification to teach boutique spin and bootcamp classes, not to be a personal trainer, so I was thrilled to find out that ACE (American Council on Exercise) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), two of the most popular and renowned certifying agencies, offered courses for group instruction.
I ended up choosing to study with ACE because, practically speaking, it was the most affordable and most convenient option for my budget and schedule. My day job comes with a very unpredictable schedule, and I wanted a program which I could do on my own time but also held me accountable to a certain timeframe. ACE sent me an email every week to tell me which chapters I needed to read, which workbook chapters to complete, which videos and exam modules to review, etc, for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, I made up my own study timeline and scheduled my exam. I’m a huge bookworm and I learn best by reading, so this style of program really worked for me.
Q: What were the most interesting or surprising things you learned during your studies?
Lauren: Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin… I really loved diving deep into each posture and learning the benefits and proper alignment of each pose. It strengthened my personal practice exponentially, and for that alone, I’d recommend anyone to sign up for training, even if they don’t want to teach. Also, I know its super ~cliche~, but the training taught me a lot about myself. It’s a huge commitment, and by making the decision to dedicate my time to yoga on top of working full time, preparing for a marathon and trying to be slightly social, I learned a lot about balance and prioritizing.
Natalie: I went to a liberal arts college where my general education science course was called meteorology and we colored weather maps. Needless to say, it has been a minute since I studied legitimate science and biology, and I learned/reviewed so much information about the human body during this course. As someone who has been injured WAY too many times from my marathon running adventures, I was a tad obsessed with learning the roots of common athletic injuries and best measures to prevent them. I also found the athletic differences in men and women really interesting. For example, men only need 2-5% essential body fat, while women need 10-13% (this is 100% not fair). Women also tend to sweat less than men because we have less lean muscle in our bodies. I love these random facts!
Q: How has earning your certification helped you become a better athlete and student?
Lauren: From an athletic standpoint, earning my certification really helped my become more aware of my body. What’s amazing about practicing yoga is that it allows you to really check in with each part of your body, assessing what feels good, what feels uncomfortable and what needs more attention. As a naturally impatient human being, I rarely took the time to stretch after going for a run or doing a HIIT workout. However, increasing my yoga practice showed me how important and beneficial it is to check in with each part of my body. I also found that I became a stronger runner as my practice increased. I recovered much quicker, and even if I wasn’t running consistently, as soon as I set foot on the pavement, my body was ready to push past my comfort zone and it was AWESOME.
Natalie: I’ve been an athlete my entire life, and I used to go through the motions of my workouts without giving them much thought. Earning my certification made me so much more aware of my form and which muscles were working to perform an exercise. Now when I struggle to perform an exercise (I’m talking about you, pull-ups), I know exactly which muscles are firing, which muscles are weak and what moves I can incorporate in my routine to strengthen my problem areas.
Q: There are a few articles floating around the internet that list “10 Things Your Yoga/Spinning/Bootcamp Instructor Wants You To Know.” What is one thing you would want your students to know before coming to your class?
Lauren: That they’re allowed and encouraged to smile! Smiling makes everything more enjoyable. Life is too short to not crack a smile – even if you’re in floor bow…
Natalie: That the only person they need to compete with is themselves. The fitness world can be kind of elitist and bratty sometimes, and I NEVER want anyone to feel like they’re not qualified enough/skinny enough/fit enough to come to class, get their workout in, and leave in a better mood than when they arrived.
Q: What made you decide to be an instructor? What are you most looking forward to in regards to teaching others?
Lauren: In high school, I decided to join the boys wrestling team as a joke, because I thought it would be a hilarious story to tell. Long story short, I ended up falling in love with the sport and it became my life. When I first started as a freshman, I got my butt kicked by the guys, but my coaches never lost faith in me. They always saw my potential and pushed me beyond what I thought my capacity was. Soon I was holding my own against the boys and competing nationally in the USGWA. It was this journey that taught me that limits don’t exist (cue ‘Mean Girls’) – that we can always go beyond what we think our boundaries are, whether it’s specific to athleticism or anything else in life. This perspective is a gift that I want to share with others. I always thought that I wanted to be a coach at some point in my life, and while that’s still a dream of mine, I realized that I can also share this gift through leading a workout or a fitness class. I want people to know that their limit is not their limit, and that’s what I’m most excited about.
Natalie: Instructing is something I have wanted to do for a few years, but if I’m being honest, I never had the guts to earn my certification or audition to teach. I’ve struggled with body image issues and weight fluctuation my entire life, and it’s definitely held me back whenever I think about teaching. When I moved to Los Angeles, I found instructors who kicked my ass and made it fun, and soon I was swapping nights at the bars for nights at the barre (get it?). This city and its instructors have changed my lifestyle and my priorities, and I would love to continue to foster a love of health and fitness in others. I truly believe in progress over perfection, and I’m looking forward to connecting with people in the studio and being real about finding balance with fitness. Some days I wake up, hit the gym and drink a protein smoothie. Some days I hit snooze 6 times and eat 3 cookies for breakfast. It happens. I want to help people stop beating themselves up over their bodies and instead celebrate that they made time in their days to sweat.