Discovering My Passion
From a young age at school, I enjoyed helping other children struggling with schoolwork. It was a way that I felt accepted. However, growing up in a community with little ethnic diversity, I didn’t fit in. My parents were not comfortable with me having more than one friend come over to the house, so I grew up feeling isolated, lonely and uncomfortable in social situations. I only connected when someone turned to me for help with assignments and exams. After that, it became my ‘thing’. When most dreaded exam time, I looked forward to it, as it meant everyone would become my friend.
When I moved away from home and started teaching group fitness, helping new instructors became a regular part of my week. In those days, new instructors had to complete 40 hours of teaching with another instructor. I welcomed new instructors to co-teach with me. It felt like a responsibility to share what I had learnt. Still, also it helped me define and crystalise my strategies. I did this unpaid, as it was about creating a connection (similar to what I needed when I was younger). In addition, it was satisfying to observe another instructor move from nervous and unsure to a confident, accomplished leader and to know I was part of that journey.
Embracing the Mentor Role
A striking moment was when I overheard an instructor talking to a colleague about how I was her mentor. I had never used that term for myself before. I was a ‘helper’ or an instructor that helped people get their 40 hours completed. I now see I was a mentor, and that title felt noble! It felt like I had played a meaningful role in someone’s life.
Shaping a Dynamic Team of Instructors
Once I became a group fitness manager, I saw mentoring as essential to my role. If I wanted a team of instructors who taught to the best of their ability to be on my team, I needed to be part of their development. I preferred to choose participants in my classes who showed enthusiasm and love for classes and encouraged them to complete a course. At this time, I was now delivering group fitness instructor courses, so I could guide them through the whole process with extra one-on-one time afterwards, as long as they were committed to being part of my team. I offered this to everyone who did the course, as there were always super keen, new instructors who wanted to teach in a gym. Mentoring was now more than a ‘thing’; it was a weekly schedule of training instructors one-on-one. Again, it was unpaid, as it also fulfilled a personal goal – having the city’s best group fitness team.
From Management to Pursuing a Passion
I felt lost when I decided to move on from management to pursue presenting on a larger scale. I didn’t have a team to connect with anymore. The group fitness world shifted focus to pre-choreographed programs, and my role as a mentor in a one-on-one situation slowly disappeared. I still heard people use the term mentor, but I had not played a significant role in their success. A part of me felt incomplete. I wasn’t personally helping anyone regularly anymore, and I decided that I needed to move on.
Realigning with Passion
Then Covid happened. 2020 will be a year many will use as a defining year. The year that everything changed for them. It certainly will be one for me, and I want to remember 2020 because it helped me realign with what I am passionate about. 2020 is the year that I launched a membership. It is a year that I launched two mentoring groups – one for freestyle step instructors and one for aqua instructors. The mentoring has evolved into creating a community of like-minded instructors who love sharing, listening, learning and opening their minds to new ways to improve the experience for their participants. The instructors are experienced in life and other aspects of instruction and love the opportunity to talk shop.
A Return to Mentorship and Personal Growth
So now I am back in my happy place. The yearning to share my knowledge and experience and thus continuously reflect on my improvement has been satisfied. The weekly meetings and occasional one-on-one sessions provide the connection I need to feel complete.
Thank you to the excellent instructors joining me and participating in the weekly mentoring groups. From your comments and emails, I know you share the same connection I do.
Join the Aqua Mentoring Group: Elevate Your Teaching Skills
The Aqua Mentoring group is a membership that gives you access to a wide-ranging content library covering equipment, customer relations, and more. It also lets you explore replays of previous sessions that feature guest speakers and new moves; class planning; partner exercises; circuit success; and more.
The Aqua Mentoring Membership is the perfect way to elevate your skills with warm-up and cool-down ideas. With this membership, you can discover your purpose in teaching and learn to assess feedback effectively. You’ll get access to everything from equipment advice to customer relations tips so you can take your business to the next level!