Posted on

It’s Good to Be Back!

Michelle gets married

Hi, I’m back!

After a year of getting married, honeymooning across Europe and getting a new job in San Francisco, I’m finally back to blogging! With all the excitement, I couldn’t keep up with a regular posting schedule, but I look forward to getting into the swing of things again this year.

Back up. What Have You Been Up To?

Well, I got married to my rock star husband Chris in October. The whole day was absolutely special with so many fond memories. I particularly enjoyed the ceremony where my husband (to my surprise) cried as I walked down the aisle, we snuck in a few Eminem song lyrics, and recited our vows in front of all of our friends and family. The reception was filled with dancing, margaritas, and so much love.

The day after the wedding, we jetsetted off to Europe for a three week vacation in Paris, London, Germany, Italy, and a handful of other spots. I am truly thankful for everyone that celebrated with us, planned with us, and helped us start our marriage bursting with happiness.

Finally, after more than four years at The Hoffman Agency, I found a new big girl job doing content strategy and creation for a startup in San Francisco. I started earlier this month, and am anxious to get the ball rolling to accomplish our goals.

Now what?

I’m hoping to post more regularly now that my life is starting fall back to normal. I have a few exciting ideas for 2018, as well. 

If you’d like to connect, please reach out on Twitter or Facebook.

Otherwise, I’ll see you back here for my next post. 🙂

Posted on

How to Give Feedback That’s Useful in Your Fitness Class

Fitness instructor learning how to give feedback

Sometimes my fitness class is in the middle of an intense interval, where everyone’s out of breath (including myself), and the only thing I can think to say is, “awesome work.” Sure, I say it with as much enthusiasm as I can muster, but those words usually feel like they simply fall flat. We tend to use the word “awesome” so often that it loses its meaning after a while. And, it comes off as generic and disengaged. So, how do we give feedback to our participants in a way that sets us apart from all the bland jargon that we hear in our everyday lives?

How to Give Feedback Advice #1: Be as specific as possible.

Instead of saying, “good job,” or, “keep it up,” pick out one thing your class is doing particularly well and bring attention to it. You could say, “I love that you are all doing pushups on your toes! You’ve come such a long way, and I’m proud of you for challenging your body.”

Sometimes it may feel like you’re pointing out something obvious, but that’s okay. People love to get compliments, even if they’ve heard it before. “Per usual, you all are giving your maximum effort,” you might say. “I see you sweating, and I appreciate your hard work.”

How to Give Feedback Advice #2: Use unique, quirky language.

We hear the same words over and over again, so I’m sure your class won’t miss words like awesome, good and great.

Instead, spend some time reading fitness, self-help and motivational articles. Circle the words that catch your attention, especially the ones that you rarely use. This could be something like, “impressive effort,” or, “love your gumption.”

When we use rare words it makes our brain work a little bit harder to comprehend and follow along, and so participants will be more focused on you, your class and your workout.

Do you remember going to your favorite instructor’s class each week, and he would deliver the exact same intro day in and day out? As time went on, you started to tune it out and think about your to-do list, because it was all too familiar.

Don’t let your motivational cues and feedback get too familiar. And, don’t be boring.

How to Give Feedback Advice #3: Have some fun with it.

Whenever I feel like I need to liven up my class, I’ll start to share random, bizarre cues and metaphors for feedback. For example, I’ve used the example of being in a toaster and not wanting to touch the sides for fear of getting burned. This one helps participants move on one plane and keep their limbs from flailing. I’ve also compared exercises to chores, like dusting dirty tables.

The really wacky ones usually get a chuckle from participants. If not, I’ll usually razz them a bit to make sure they’re awake, because chances are, if class is getting too familiar, they may have started to zone out.

Above all else, you want to make sure your feedback and communication feels authentic and genuine. If you don’t like cracking jokes, don’t do it. Although some words may feel a little foreign coming out of your mouth, I think it’s okay because that awkwardness will make folks pay attention. Use it to your advantage.

For more communication tips, check out the fitness motivation and cueing page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich!

 

 

 

Posted on

Here’s Recent Constructive Feedback from One of My Group X Participants

Group Exercise Instructor Implementing Feedback

It’s very rare for me to get feedback in my Group X classes. Usually most participants will leave with a smile and simply say, “thank you”. To tell if they like the class, I wait to see if they show up again, and most do! But, I never get to hear if they like the intervals or a certain song. Once you’ve taught the same group of folks for a while, you can start to recognize participants’ demeanor and get familiar with how they act when they like something, but other than that, specific, useful feedback is far and few between.

So, I was so appreciative when a participant came up to me after class one day to share a suggestion. Here was the feedback:

“Make sure the effort and pace match the beat of the song, especially at the very end of the song.”

I am guilty of listening to songs for just the first 30 seconds or so, and if I like the beat, I’ll add it to the queue. But, there have been numerous times where the song will end in a weird way, either by cutting out early, audience applause or just a slow, drawn out finish. In the past, I’ve told participants to, “go faster than the beat,” but this person explained that it wasn’t enjoyable to do that.

Lucky for me, there is such an easy fix. Now, I make sure to listen to the end of the song — each and every week — as a reminder of how it ends. Sometimes I’ll write notes to myself to point out when I should do the intervals to make sure I’m doing them when the beat is most intense and upbeat.

Something to think about in your classes, as well. If you think your participants don’t notice when you’re slacking off, think again. Also, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback every once in a while, especially if you’re first starting with a new class or have been teaching the same class for a while. And, of course, listen to all of the song at least once right before you teach it — always.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.

 

Posted on

Health and Fitness Blog Name Ideas

Researching health and fitness blog name ideas

If you’re starting a wellness blog, you’ll likely go through a lot of health and fitness blog name ideas before choosing the perfect one. For me, this was one of the hardest parts of the blogging process. Blog names are the foundation we build our brand around and we’re stuck with it for a long time, so it’s understandable we spend so much time picking the right one.

There are a couple questions you’ll want to ask yourself as you research health and fitness blog name ideas.

The answers to these questions will help steer you towards the finish line in selecting the perfect blog name for you.

  • Do you want your name as part of your brand? Many people will use their own name as the URL, which is a surefire way to make sure you’ll never get bored of your fitness blog name. Some examples of fitness influencers that use their own name are jensinkler.com and www.jennawolfe.com.
  • How do you want to differentiate yourself? With so many fitness blogs out there, you want to make sure you’re bringing something unique to the table, whether that’s focusing on a certain niche audience or playing up your quirks. A great example of this is nerdfitness.com that looks at fitness through a geeky lens.
  • What will you be blogging about? You want your blog name to reflect the type of posts that you’ll be writing about. Are you planning to post your run or workout recaps? Then, consider including the word “run” or “workout” in the name. If you’re big on yoga, then add a word to reflect that.
  • Do you want to follow one of the popular blog name trends? There are other common trends for blog names. Some blog names are two different items, like Cupcakes and Cashmere. Another common theme is one that matches a health or fitness keyword with something more playful, like Running in Heels.

Once you’ve answered the above, you can start brainstorming health and fitness blog name ideas until you find on the perfect fit.

To get you started, here are a bunch of name ideas that may spark THE ONE for you.

  • Love to Lunge
  • Funnies and Fitness
  • Muscles and Mimosas
  • Daily Dose of Fit (Daily Dose of Zen, etc.)
  • See Jack Run (See Chris Run, See Lex Run, etc.)
  • Spandex and Sparkles
  • Sweat N’ Spandex
  • Fit and Fabulous
  • One More Rep
  • Flex For Fun
  • Guardians of the Gluteus
  • Iron Woman
  • Fit and Fierce
  • Can’t Stop The Sweat
  • Smoothies and Spandex
  • Muscles and Mason Jars
  • Star [Jump] Wars

Hope these help! If you’re serious about starting a fitness blog, check out my other tips here.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.

Posted on

Gifts for Healthy Moms, 2017 Mother’s Day Edition

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Nike Shoes

There are so many cool trinkets and accessories out there, but when it comes time for Mother’s Day, it can be hard to find gifts for healthy moms. That’s why I put together a list of great gifts for fitness instructors, or any healthy mommas out there. I made a Mother’s Day gift guide last year that had a lot of great gift ideas in it, too. If you’ve never gifted your mom a Spotify gift card, a ClassPass subscription or cute workout pants, definitely check it out.

And, without further ado, here are some more great gifts for healthy moms for this Mother’s Day.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #1: Foam rollers

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Foam Rollers

Foam rollers have become increasingly popular as the industry has been giving greater focus to stretching, recovery and self-care. You can foam roll while you watch TV, and it’s been proven to help increase flexibility and decrease pain.

If you’re interested in purchasing a foam roller as a gift for your mom, check out The Sweet Home’s roundup of best foam rollers.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #2: New Shoes

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Nike Shoes

Especially if your fitness instructor mom wears the same pair of shoes day in and day out, it’s probably time to get her a new pair. There are so many fun pairs of shoes out there right now, like these Nike Free TR 6 AMP.

You might also want to check out the site 6pm.com which has a lot of name brand shoes, accessories and clothes on sale.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #3: Admission to a fitness conference

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Fitness Conference

 

There are so many great fitness conferences and expos coming up this year, and fitness instructors love to attend. If you’re looking at a gift that’s at least $100, check out the upcoming conferences to see if there’s anything in your mom’s area.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #4: Wireless Headphones

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Headphones

For our runner mothers, new, clean headphones are such a luxury, especially ones that will stay in your ears and avoid getting damaged by sweat. Amazon has two high-rated, affordable pairs of wireless headphones here and here.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #5: Yummy tea bags and honey

Gifts for Healthy Moms: DAVIDsTEA

Fitness instructor moms often come home with those sexy raspy voices (yes, I have one, too! :)). When the mic doesn’t work in the group fitness studio, it’s up to the instructor to yell cues for an hour. Help your mom soother her voice and throat by giving her fancy tea bags and honey. After a long day, I love to cuddle up with a cup of tea and honey.

DAVIDsTEA and Yogi tea have always been a big hit with my friends and family.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #6: Lush bath bombs

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Bath bombs

Make your mom’s next bubble bath a luxurious one with Lush bath bombs. They smell so good and really transform the bath experience. Lush even has some cute bath bombs that say “MOM”.

Hope all the fit and healthy moms out there have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

(Image Credit: Her Campus & Aaai-ismafitness

Posted on

April 2017 Links I Love for Fitness Professionals

April Links I Love for Fitness Instructors

It’s that time again! Another month has come and gone, along with a lot of great fitness and health articles and studies. For me, April was a blur, between celebrating friends’ birthdays, picking up my wedding dress (5 months to go!) and keeping up at work. I’m really looking forward to May — lots of planned family and friend time, and I’m hoping for good, sunshine-y weather. Before we jump into May, I want to take a second to look back at the top articles in fitness and health, so that other fitness professionals, like yourself, can keep up with the latest trends and happenings.

If your month was anything like mine, it was quite the challenge to stay in the loop on everything that happened in the fitness industry in April. There were a few important studies you’ll want to brush up on and viral articles you’ll want to make sure you read. That way, you can come to your next group exercise class armed with the most up-to-date knowledge to better their experience.

Here’s a look at my favorite fitness and wellness articles from April that fitness professionals should read.

  1. One study found that high-intensity intervals were the best for making our cells regenerate, so on a cellular level, interval training helps us look and feel younger (reported by Inc. magazine). I tried to explain this to my spin class, and as soon as I mentioned “mitochondria” their eyes glazed over. So, if you do share this information in your class, be sure to keep it simple.
  2. The 5 Most Common Excuses Holding You Back by Susie Moore via Greatist. Yes, I’m obsessed with Susie Moore — if you ever catch me reading one of her articles, you will see me nodding along in agreement the whole time, eyes affixed to the screen. She speaks to my soul.
  3. 10 reasons why you should be stretching by Jessica Matthews via ACE Fitness. If you’re already a fitness professional, chances are you already know the benefits of stretching, so this is a great tool to share with your classes to encourage them to stick around and do stretches after exercise.
  4. How to do a bodyweight split squat via New York Times Well blog. I love the angles and color of this post. Great exercise to add to your next group exercise class, too.
  5. 3 Lessons About Mental Toughness You Can Learn From Yoda via Tor Constantino for Entrepreneur magazine. We all know participants show up to your group exercise classes so you can motivate them and get them to work harder than they would on their own. These mental toughness tips are great to try in your next class.
  6. If your talk doesn’t do these three things, don’t give it, via Neil Pasricha for Fast Company. While we all know how important it is to provide participants with a safe, effective workout, it’s also just as important to entertain and educate. We need to think of ourselves as not only lesson planners, but also public speakers and teachers.
  7. 5 must-do exercise to do if you want a stronger core, via Lee Boyce for Muscle & Strength. Crunches are a thing of the past, yet many participants will still show up expecting to do “abs” for the last 10 minutes of class. Here are some great core exercises to try that will get away from crunches and sit-ups.
  8. Why Vanessa Hudgens never wears a shirt to the gym via Haley Goldberg for Self.com. Whether you teach in just a sports bra or not, this is a trend that seems to be getting attention right now.

If you liked this roundup, you may also like the fitness and wellness articles from March and February. You can also check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich!

(Image Source: Vanessa Hudgens’ Instagram/Self.com) 

Posted on

Cinco de Mayo Spinning Music Playlist

Mexico cyclist for a Cinco de Mayo spinning music playlist

Cinco de Mayo is a challenging holiday for group exercise for a couple of reasons. First, there are mixed feelings about the holiday, commemorating a Mexican victory in the Franco-Mexican War. It’s not really celebrated in Mexico, but in the U.S. it’s hugely popular. Second, it’s hard to find the perfect Cinco de Mayo spinning music playlist. Do you play only songs in Spanish? Do you play popular songs in Mexico right now?

Ultimately, the answer lies with your participants. What will they like and appreciate? For my classes, I know that a good mix of songs from a bunch of different genres and themes will be well-received.

Here are the types of songs I included in my Cinco de Mayo spinning music playlist.

  • Popular songs in Spanish with a good beat. There are some songs that transcend their borders. Just like I picture Pitbull coming out of speakers across the globe, I know that there are Spanish songs that Americans enjoy. I listened to a couple until I found ones with a workout beat.
  • Songs by Mexican Americans. Since Cinco de Mayo is really an American holiday, I figured it didn’t hurt to give special emphasis to Mexican American singers and artists. This includes folks like Santana, Demi Lovato and Fergie.
  • Songs related to “Five”. For those of you that know my spin playlist style, I tend to throw in a few wacky songs into the mix. They always get a positive reaction from the crowd, since they’re just a little bit silly, but still provide a good workout. I couldn’t find any songs I liked with “Cinco” in the title, but there were a couple related to “Five” that I wanted to include.

Without further ado, here’s the Cinco de Mayo spinning music playlist.

  1. Matador, by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
  2. La Bamba, by Ritchie Valens
  3. Sky Might Fall, by Kid Cudi
  4. Smooth, by Santana feat. Rob Thomas
  5. Die Romantic, by Aiden (guitarist Angel Ibarra is Mexican American)
  6. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody, by Fergie feat. Q-Tip, GoonRock
  7. The Glamorous Life, by Sheila E.
  8. Come & Get It, by Selena Gomez
  9. Confident, by Demi Lovato
  10. Testify, by Rage Against the Machine (Zack de la Rocha is Mexican American)
  11. Blame in on the Boogie, The Jackson 5
  12. High Five, by Beck (edited version)

I’m still looking for the perfect Selena workout remix to add, so if you find one, please share!

If you liked this list, you’ll also like the St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day spinning music playlists. And, for those already gearing up for Memorial Day, I’ve shared a super fun list of workout songs, as well.

For more playlists, check out the spinning routines page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.

Posted on

What’s Your Group Exercise Instructor Uniform?

Group Exercise Instructor Uniform

As group exercise instructors, we put a lot of effort into our class presentation, including our motivational cues, voice and gestures. It’s important to note that even things like our appearance has an impact on what participants think of our class. If we come into class disheveled with our hair always in our face or constantly adjusting our clothes, participants are going to have a reaction. So, it is important to put some time and effort into your group exercise instructor uniform (your workout clothes, hair and overall hygiene) to make sure you’re giving the best impression to your clients.

Appearance is a very personal topic, and it is important to let your personality shine through when you’re teaching. Don’t feel like you have to follow the mold of what you think a “typical group exercise instructor” looks like. Participants truly value authenticity above all else. When it comes to what you wear, there are a couple common questions and dress codes I’ve seen group exercise instructors swear by. I wanted to share these with you today, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s a uniform that fits your style.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when picking out your group exercise instructor uniform.

  1. Will I wear colorful clothes?

Bright colors are super popular right now, so it’s understandable that you want to wear bright colors as you teach. I do think it’s surprising that not all instructors wear colors. Some swear by sticking with neutrals, like black and grey. The argument here is that black is considered a professional, serious color. If you’re wearing all black, folks might look to you as a leader of the room. I do wear a lot of colors, but the one thing I admire about folks that only wear black workout clothes is they always look put together. There’s something about a monochromatic or very blended outfit that looks both effortless and stylish.

  1. Should I teach in just a sports bra?

This is a very touchy question: can you teach in just a sports bra? Nowadays, those high-waisted workout pants make it all the easier to teach in a sports bra and look professional. I would look at the dress code of the other instructors before stripping down, because some gyms are pretty modest. Showing a lot of skin might also make participants uncomfortable, so proceed with caution.

And, speaking of sports bras do your best to make sure your girls are supported during your workout. It’s distracting when an instructor has cleavage or starts jumping and moving in an unsupportive sports bra.

  1. How should I do my hair?

Some instructors will always have their hair falling down, and regularly fix their hair in class. Again, it’s distracting and takes away from the professionalism. I recommend securing your hair as best you can so that it stays put and doesn’t require your attention at all in class.

  1. Should I wear brand names?

Your participants are very impressionable, and the clothing choices you make will have an impact on them. I try to limit the brand names (e.g. Nike) that I wear, because I don’t want to use the power I hold to influence my participants’ consumer decisions. Especially in certain geographic areas I’ve taught in, like the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, there are a lot of participants that come in expensive workout clothes (think: Lulu Lemon). I want participants to feel comfortable taking my class without needing expensive gear or equipment. I may wear a nice pair of Lulu’s one day, but always try to balance it with non-descript capri pants on other days, as well.

The group exercise instructor uniform is a very sensitive topic. You want to balance your own desire for self-expression with your responsibilities as a role model to your participants. When in doubt, I usually err on the side of caution. If you are ever uncertain about what to wear, I recommend talking to your group exercise director or a colleague you trust.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

Posted on

What to Bring to a Fitness Convention

What to Bring to a Fitness Convention

If you’re looking for a fitness convention or health and fitness expo, there are a ton of great ones coming up this summer: IDEA World Fitness Convention (July 19-23), Zumba Instructor Convention (July 27-30) and SCW Mania Convention (July 29-30) to name a few. You can find an extensive list of upcoming events here. I attended SCW Mania in California earlier this year, and the experience was amazing — I get giddy just thinking about it! But leading up to the event, I always get nervous about what to bring to a fitness convention.

For example, I’d hate to be drenched in sweat at 8 a.m. only to realize I have to sit in my clothes for the rest of the day, since I forgot a back-up outfit. Now that I have quite a few conferences under my belt, I thought I’d share a few items that have been lifesavers for me when I attend conferences.

Here’s my list of what to bring to a fitness convention.

Outfit to pack for a fitness convention

  1. A back-up outfit (including an extra sports bra, shoes and hair ties)

Like I mentioned above, if you do attend a session with an intense workout, it can be nice to put on a clean outfit afterwards or around lunch time if your day is full of exercising. And, if you start to realize your shoes are uncomfortable or your hair tie breaks, it’s worth it to have back-ups with you at the fitness convention.

  1. A hardback notebook or clipboard

This is a lesser-known packing item that can be so helpful during the sessions. In every session I’ve attended, I sat in a chair or on the floor while the presenter went through their slides. Without a hard surface to use, your notes can easily end up illegible. So, I like to bring a sturdy notebook with me to write on or act as my “desk” if there’s a handout.

  1. Pens and highlighters

Make sure to bring pens to take notes. I always like to have a backup, because my pens never cease to run out at the wrong time. And, you might want to bring a highlighter, as well, if the presenter will be passing out worksheets or if you like to highlight your notes.

  1. Snacks

If you’re like me, hunger can strike at any time. That means being ready at a moment’s notice to grab a snack. I like to have a few snacks handy that I can eat whenever. I recommend packing snacks that you can eat pretty easily (and sneakily) during a workshop. I always start to turn red when I’m the girl in the back of class ripping open a bag of pretzels or shoveling trail mix in my face and spilling everywhere. My go-to snack is the granola bar, because it’s so easy to eat and so tasty.

What to pack for a fitness convention

  1. Lunch

Most conventions will have food options available to purchase at the convention. Since I’m on a budget (saving for my wedding!), I try to pack my own lunch. You can pretty easily pack a sandwich and stick a ice pack in the bag to keep it cool until lunch time. I’ve even brought microwaveable lunches in my bag with an ice pack and used the public microwave at the snack bar. This lets me eat a decent meal to make sure I have enough energy to power through the day. Consider calling the convention center ahead of time to see what the food options are.

  1. Deodorant, face wash/baby wipes

If you break out easily or feel yucky hanging out sweaty for too long, consider bringing toiletries to help freshen up at lunch time. Deodorant is a must, and also consider a face wash or toilet to keep you feeling fresh.

  1. The convention schedule, map and session handouts

These are the three items you’ll need to successfully navigate the convention. I always like to have the whole schedule in front of me, in case I decide last minute I want to switch sessions. And, you’ll want to make sure you have a map to figure out how to get around from session to session.

  1. Phone and extra charger

If you live tweet an event or use your phone to take notes and pictures, it’s always a good idea to bring a phone charger or portable battery charger.

  1. Sweatshirt

The rooms at a fitness convention are notorious for being cold, especially after you stop moving. Make sure to bring a sweatshirt or two to make sure you’re staying comfortable. Sometimes it’s nice to have two different long sleeve items, so that if one gets really sweaty you have another clean one for later.

If you’re going to a fitness convention this year, hope you have SO much fun! Please let me know if you have anything to add to this list, or other advice for convention attendees.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.

 

Posted on

Why I have an ACE Group Fitness Certification to Teach Group X Classes

ACE Group Fitness Certification handbook

If you want to become a Group X instructor, you’ve likely started researching different fitness certifications that you can get to teach, including the ACE Group Fitness certification. You may have noticed that all you need is a Group X certification and CPR/AED to technically teach group fitness classes; however, some certifications are more impressive and widely-accepted than others.

If you have a specific gym in mind, you’ll want to make sure you ask the group exercise director that runs their program what fitness certifications they’ll accept. It might also be worth emailing the gyms nearby to see what fitness certifications they require in case you decide down the road you want to teach there. Otherwise, you’ll have to decide for yourself what certification to take.

Here’s why I chose the ACE Group Fitness Certification.

When I was taking UCLA’s Fitness Leadership Program back in 2010, we were encouraged to take the ACE Fitness group exercise certification test, because it was one of the most accepted and respected options for Group X instructors. There were other choices, but this one was strongly encouraged. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and just selected the ACE Fitness test, but I was so glad I did.

Moving up to San Francisco Bay Area after college graduation, I started looking for gyms I could teach at, and every single one accepted the ACE Fitness certification. For reference, I’ve been on the group exercise instructor list at more than five gyms. A year in, one of the gyms I taught at ClubSport even changed its policy and required instructors to have either ACE or AFAA nationally-accredited certification. Many instructors were frustrated that they had to go out and get another certification. If you’re just starting out, you can avoid this scenario by choosing ACE or AFAA in the first place.

For more advice, check out the group exercise ideas and tips page.

(Image source: ACE Fitness