In this episode, I chat to my good friend Audrey Mckenzie
We talk about how she’s gone from a full-time career in big corporate to a side hustle as a group fitness instructor, and now as a full-time personal trainer.
If you’re thinking of a career change or you’re just wanting to teach classes as a hobby or second job, don’t miss this great interview.
Welcome to series 2 episode 4 of Group Fitness Over Coffee.
What we talk about:
Becoming a group fitness instructor and juggling it with the day job
The difference between teaching classes and being a one to one personal trainer
The importance of empathy with your fitness clients
How best to plan your move into group fitness and personal training
Please get in touch:
Have you got a Group Fitness Story that you would like to share? Are you a participant, an instructor, a master trainer, or a programme director with something awesome and motivational that you want to share. I would love to interview you.
Perhaps you have been down to the gym but found all those exercise machines a little daunting? It doesn’t help your confidence when there is some super-toned muscle-bound hunk running on the treadmill at break neck speed.
And let’s face it, running on a treadmill is quite dull isnt it? Lonely too, even with a personal trainer encouraging you on.
This is why I love group fitness classes. They aren’t dull at all. You feel motivated not only by the instructor but also by the other participants. There’s a social element as well as healthy competition.
The first class I ever went too was Body Pump over ten years ago. I remember being a reluctant attendee. My legs were on fire the following day with the sheer agony of delayed onset muscle soreness. But after a few classes I began to notice results – a difference to my physique and my stamina.
Soon after I discovered Body Combat, the martial arts based fitness class from Les Mills. I was hooked and eventually went on to train as an instructor. And yoga followed on soon after.
I now teach Body Combat, Body Balance, Hatha Yoga and Power Yoga in clubs around Edinburgh.
I love it more now that I did when I started and do you know why?
It’s not just the social aspect of the classes although I have made some really good friends because of it. It’s not just the adrenaline rush of 30 or 40 people shouting “Kiai” whilst performing a roundhouse kick, or the beautiful sight 30 or 40 people looking strong and proud in Sun Warrior pose.
No it’s the sense of achievement you can see on the participants faces when they master a move, meet a goal, or make a lasting change that benefits them physically. It’s an achievement getting slightly more flexible after each yoga class. It’s an achievement pushing their aerobic capacity in Body Combat.
For me as a group fitness class instructor, there simply isn’t anything better than seeing that look of achievement on their faces.
Whatever your fitness goals there is a group fitness class out there that will be perfect for you.
Your turn: What is your favourite group fitness class? I would love to hear about your achievements, or your stories about your favourite classes. Please leave a comment below and share your experiences.
You’ve overcome the perceptions that yoga is some sort of religion, involves impossible to get into poses and sitting around on mats chanting. You know it can benefit you physically and mentally and help you get stronger, more flexible and can help your posture. But there is still one barrier left. Going to your first class.
Don’t worry. Don’t feel intimidated! Here are ten top tips for your first yoga class to think about before you go that will make your first class go well for you.
1) Read a book or watch a video beforehand.
It will help if you know the basics of yoga then you will have an idea of what to expect in your first class. There are hundreds of yoga poses and styles. But there are also hundreds of books and videos both on and offline. I like the videos they have on YogaToday.com but a simple search on YouTube would suffice.
2) Pick a yoga studio convenient to your home:
It might be a fitness club offering a yoga class or a dedicated yoga studio, but make sure it is close to home. Also check out the advert boards in your local shops as they often carry ads for yoga classes in community centres or church halls.
3) Get there early so you can have a look round.
Get there at least 15 minutes early: This will give you time to fill out any necessary forms, get yourself a locker if available and start to unwind before class. if you can get into the studio, set your yoga mat in a comfortable place in the room – and don’t assume that as you are new that you need to hide at the back.
4) Eat sensibly before your class
Keep food on the day of your first yoga class light and simple by having healthy food at least two to three hours before class. Not heavy, fried, fatty, saucy, spicy, and high-acid food as they might make you feel sick as you start to exercise. It’s also not a good idea to exercise on an empty stomach either as you may start feeling light-headed as your body needs fuel that is not there. I like bananas before my classes.
5) Drink drink drink
Drink plenty of water before and after the class. You must be hydrated during class because you will sweat even in less physically demanding types of yoga. Best start drinking water at least two hours before so your body can absorb the water properly. If you are doing hot yoga or bikram yoga make sure that you’re fully hydrated before you start. Because you will sweat buckets.
6) Wear really comfortable clothes
Wear comfortable clothes that aren’t so tight that they restrict your movement. You don’t need to wear long pants, just wear something you feel relaxed and confident in. Ladies can wear quick-dry Capri and tight tops where gents may put on shorts and baggy t-shirts. Remember that unlike gym exercises, you will be bending and stretching a lot, so loose clothes tend to fall in your face during downward poses and it will become difficult for the teacher to check your alignment.
7) And take off your shoes and socks
You practice Yoga barefoot. This freaks some people out. They don’t like espousing their bare feet. But being barefoot gives you more grip on the mat especially in the standing poses. If you have any problem being barefoot, ask your instructor if you can keep your socks on—or you could buy a pair of yoga socks.
8) Talk to the teacher
You might be shy or uncomfortable talking to the teacher, but they are there for you. Yoga teachers are very helpful and encouraging—they want new students to have the best experience possible during their first class. If you don’t talk to the teacher before the class starts he or she will always ask if there is anyone who hasn’t done yoga before. I find that even when I ask this question some people still stay silent. Don’t. Make yourself known. Also let your teacher know of any medical conditions you have that might affect your practice. Your teacher will offer changes if needed as you can adjust most yoga poses to your needs.
9) No mobiles
Keep your mobile off. Maintaining silence in the room is difficult with irritating ring-tones going off. Be mindful of the other students sharing their love and energy with you.
10) Don’t go too far
Gyms are quite competitive especially when men try to out do each other with the weights they can lift. But yoga shouldn’t be like that. No one is going to criticise you and there is no prize for “Most Intense Pose.” It doesn’t matter if there are poses you can’t do or you are not super flexible. Always listen to your body—don’t go too far just to keep up with the rest of the class. If it gets too much, spend time in child’s pose until you are ready to jump back in.
And most of all enjoy yourself!
Your turn: I’d love to hear your stories about your first yoga class. What was it like? How did you feel. Do any of these tips resonate with you? Click below where it says “Leave a Reply” and share your thoughts.
Many men have tight hamstrings. It’s common with athletes, particularly runners and footballers. But anyone who exercises regularly and works their legs with weights and machines can find that their hamstrings become shorter and tighter.
I was the same. Well into my 30s I couldn’t bend down and touch my toes. Then I took up yoga, initially as a participant, and then went to train as a teacher and I am now more flexible than I have ever been.
I have written on this blog before that more men should try yoga. Hitting tight hamstrings is one of the top reasons for giving yoga a go. It can stretch the hamstring muscles, release tightness and improve flexibility.
If you were like me then your hamstrings might feel like just one great big knot of tightness. There are in fact three distinct muscle groups. The technical names are the semitendinosus, biceps femoris, and semimembranosus, but to keep it simple just think of them as the central, inner, and outer hamstrings. There are standing and seated yoga poses that let you stretch and release each of these.
Go to a yoga website like Yoga Journal or download a yoga app; look up these exercises and given them a try.
To stretch and release the central hamstrings look for forward folds. You do each of these with your feet hip width apart – I’ve included the old style Sanskrit name of the pose just to make it easier to find the poses on the web. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), and Plow Pose (Halasana).
To relieve the inner hamstring take your legs wider to bring the stretch into the inner edges of your legs. Poses that stretch the inner hamstrings include Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavista Konasana) and Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana – whilst I do not focus on the Sanskrit names unless my classes specifically ask me to I am very fond of this one. It just sounds great to say) .
Finally to work on the outer hamstrings take your legs closer to the mid-line in standing forward folds. Look for Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana) and Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana) – I particularly love this one. It takes you to the fine line between pleasure and pain – in a good way.
If you introduce a little yoga alongside running, pumping weights and martial arts you can get a perfect balance of cardio, strength, flexibility and stretch.
Over to you: Are you a guy who has used yoga to improve your flexibility and in particular your hamstrings? Many men still see yoga as something that only ladies do. Help me to get more men to try it out. Yoga can stretch muscles and improve flexibility. Share your experiences and stories. Please leave a comment or post a link.