Marietta Mehanni

Why do you teach group fitness?

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May 10, 2021

Have you ever really asked yourself why you teach group fitness? Why did you decide that this would be the career that you would choose to do, over a variety of other options?

Often people will express platitudes like, ‘to improve the wellbeing and health of my community’, or ‘to make a change in other people’s lives’. I would like to suggest that the reason why you chose this path was much more personal, and finding your why will make a huge difference in how you progress in your career. It will provide you with the drive and answers that will encourage and motivate you when you are tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed. You know, the times that you are asking yourself why?

Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher in the 1800’s wrote:

If we have our own ‘why’ of life we shall get along with almost any ‘how’.

This has also been famously quoted 100 years later by Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl in his iconic book, Man’s Search for Meaning (1946). Finding the reason for existence is one of those deep conversations that we often only peek at, when we are trying to understand the world around us. More recently, Simon Sinek has written several books and delivered countless talks and courses about this very topic. He believes that

‘whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee, a leader of a team, or are looking to find clarity on your next move, your WHY is the one constant that will guide you toward fulfilment in your work and life.’

2020, a year for many Fitness Pros to reflect

2020 was a year that a lot of us had time to reflect on our lives and what was important to us. For many Fitness Pros, it was a barricade that stopped the run-away-train of our daily commitments and it stopped the spinning that we perhaps had felt that we could not control.

It was like the universe yelled STOP and we slammed on the brakes and took a breath. The advice that we had been so committed to providing to our community, was now one that we could apply to ourselves, and that was to stop and breathe. In that breath, some of us were taken by surprise. The surprise was the realization that maybe we had lost track of what was important to us. Our why?

Why were we teaching classes?
Why were we delivering workouts that perhaps were not good for our bodies? Why we were scrambling constantly to create new workouts and always feeling like we were not delivering at our best. Why we were comparing ourselves to other instructors, other class numbers, other… We basically ‘whyed’ everything.

The 5 Whys method

So how do you discover your why? Well let me introduce to you the 5 Whys concept. The 5 Whys method is part of the Toyota Production System. Developed by Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese inventor and industrialist.

“The basis of Toyota’s scientific approach is to ask why five times whenever we find a problem’ … ‘By repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.“ Taiichi Ohno

What? A car manufacturer came up with a concept that you can use for self discovery? In fact, this method has been so successful there are approximately 619,000 search results on Google. It is the same method that children use when trying to understand the world and somehow we have forgotten this skill. I have used this process for myself for various aspects of my business; why I teach classes, why I mentor, why I present and create programs. I have also used this process more recently in my Aqua Mentoring group with amazing and wonderful results. Permit me to share my ‘whys’ with you so that you can see how to implement it.  

First question: Why do I teach?

Now you have to let it sink in for a couple of minutes. My first response was, to encourage other people to move in ways that they enjoy. Yes, nice and very politically correct. A lovely answer.

Now for the next why. Why do I want to encourage people to move in ways that they enjoy? Now it gets a little deeper. My second response was ‘because I know that if people enjoy the exercise that they do, they will be more likely to continue as a lifelong practice’.

Third why. Why is it important as a lifelong practice? Because it was important for me to find something that I knew that I could stick to and more importantly to enjoy.

The forth why, why is it important for me to enjoy exercise? Response: because growing up, exercise was not fun. I didn’t fit in at school, I wasn’t athletic and I was over weight. PE was a horrible experience for me and growing up in small country town that celebrated individual sporting achievements, I didn’t feel like I fitted in.

The fifth why, why is important that I fitted in? The response, because it felt like I belonged. When a small gym opened in our town, my dad got me a membership and for the first time, I felt like I belonged somewhere and I was encouraged and supported regardless of my ability. It was about my personal best, rather than competing against others.

What is my why?

So, what is my why? To create communities for people who don’t fit in. For those who are outside the athletic box and are looking for exercise options that they can do successfully without comparison or judgement. When I look at all the programs and educations that I have delivered or developed, they are not mainstream. They are also out side the box. That is my Why.

Discovering this was truly powerful for me and when you dig deep enough, you will also discover your personal why. This will truly empower you with the decisions that you will choose moving forward. Things that don’t align with your why, do not muddy your decisions and like a needle always pointing North on a compass, your why becomes your compass.

Try it out with a colleague and also have them ask you the 5 Why’s. It is so much more potent when you are both witnesses to each other’s Why.

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  1. Thanks Marietta , very helpful article 😊
    After 30years of teaching in the fitness Industry , fatigue , feelings of ground hog day , trying to keep the Zing feelings happening with motivating clients can get exhausting.
    I Have struggled at times , but continued to deal with these times in varied ways . Connecting with my Tribe is so very helpful . I am looking forward to the return of face 2 face education in the future .
    But thank you for all the work you provide to us I the Industry .
    Very Much appreciate your Valued Education .
    Warm Regards Di Clapp X

  2. A great thought provoker – thank you Marietta.

    My ‘why’ was because I found an exercise I enjoyed and because what was on offer in the country where I was about to re-locate to was not of the standard I had become used to in Sydney, I realised that if I wanted to continue exercising in that field, then I needed to qualify as an Instructor before moving countries.

    At that time, the size of the classes in what was then a fairly unregulated industry, were unsafe to me, so I chose to opt for a smaller specialist group which I had a particular interest in, and that also matched my then current experience with pregnancy, childbirth and babies.
    Here I am thirty years later, still teaching that same group and sometimes the daughters of my previous class participants..

    Now I am in a different age bracket, for some time I have been increasingly aware of other population health needs, so I am also extending my classes to those with Lymphoedema, another specialised group which generally aligns with my AnteNatal group as well as my previous Oncology Nurse training and experience.


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