On Monday, March 16, I taught my final in-person group fitness class before we closed our clubs due to COVID-19. An otherwise full studio was left to only four students and me. As local government officials put our shelter-in-place order into effect, it became apparent that we would not be re-opening the clubs any time soon. So, what’s next for someone like me?
I built my career on teaching group fitness classes to thousands of students over the course of 34 years. I have colleagues, peers and many friends who have done the same. Group fitness instructors are a very interesting, unique breed. The love of teaching is woven into our DNA; the number of people we reach in our classes can either make or break our day and when the music and energy in the room is at its best, so are we. Now all of that is gone. Where do we go from here?
Online services, whether academic, entertainment, social or work-related have been alive for a long time. In the fitness industry, there are so many services to choose from; you can take your workouts anywhere, with anyone at any time. With the closure of our clubs, it was time for me to jump into the wild world of streaming online classes. Those that know me would say I am definitely not a very tech savvy person, so I had some concern with my ability to get the logistics in place. Once all of that was worked out, I was ready to stream my first class on FFC’s Facebook page. I started with our signature all upper body workout, Amp’d Up, for the first few weeks simply because I was only three weeks into a total hip replacement, and I wanted to be sure I could deliver a class worthy of our viewers. I had a blast! It was so incredible to be able to do what I love, move to music and express myself in the way that only teaching group fitness can do.
As I continued to recover from surgery and my body was getting stronger, I started to add more robust signature formats to our FFC On Demand platform: LOADED, Chisel, Modern Mat, and of course, Formula 94. One of the things I am most proud of is our unique programming and format offerings at Fitness Formula Clubs. No matter your workout preferences or your fitness level, we have you covered. Having the opportunity to keep our FFC community connected and to come into the homes of people all over the world is an incredible honor.
Live streaming reminded me of why I love teaching: connecting with people, sharing my knowledge, watching people transform their bodies and build confidence (plus, it is so much fun). I took live streaming as an opportunity to polish my communication skills. When we are teaching to a camera, we are stripped of so many elements that exist when teaching students in the studio. Real time feedback is gone–of course we get some comments from viewers and a handful of heart emojis–but it cannot compare to the looks on people’s faces, the energy they bring to the workout and the motivation you get from being part of a community.
Group fitness pros are managing so many things during one single class: music and mic volumes, movement patterns, cueing, what we say and when we say it, keeping the energy in step with the format, navigating the spectrum of all the different abilities in the room and the list goes on. Teaching classes in our studios with students right in front of you is very different than streaming on virtual platforms, but for me my mission is unwavering. The physical space I teach in, the people I work with and the brand I represent can all change, but my mission for my work and my desire to elevate every person who takes my classes will never leave me.
Live streaming classes for me is a gift. It is my challenge to reach people in a very different way. It is never about likes and heart emojis. Coming into people’s homes where they feed their families, homeschool their kids and binge Netflix with the dogs takes on a very personal tone. Likewise, they get a peep into my living space as well, making this whole experience more intimate. During this time of great uncertainty, it becomes even more clear the value of my health. The purpose is not in achieving the best looking physique, but respecting my mental well-being and tapping into my intellectual and spiritual self.
I am looking forward to the day when we open our doors and we are all back together again in our studios across Chicago. Until then, I hope you hear me whispering in your ear “Shoulders back, chest out, chin up!”
Post written by FFC Contributor and Group Fitness Director Lois Miller.