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We All Judge a Book By its Cover

Fitness class laying on balls

“Are you from Canada?” a fellow participant asked me on my first day of yoga teacher training. Sure, I love my pancakes drizzled in maple syrup and a good hockey game, but I most certainly am not from Canada. So, why did she think I was? I looked down at my favorite, comfy long-sleeve shirt to see “Canada” emblazoned on the front. Duh.

I’m not a big fan of appearances. It goes against my inner being to feel like someone is going to judge me based on how I look instead of how hard I work or how I treat others. Unfortunately, everyone–yes, including me–makes first impressions and gut assumptions based on a person’s appearance

It’s human nature. We instinctively make critical decisions about a situation based on how it looks. Is this space safe? Is this person friendly? Can I trust him or her? Our brain decides all of these things within a few seconds of meeting someone.

Do you know who else is making assumptions about us? Our students.

When we walk into class, our students are sizing us up. They’re curious about us and are wondering if we’ll be good instructors. So, what we wear and how we present ourselves matters.

Here are a few things to consider to make a good first impression as a group fitness instructor.

Take Care Picking Your Clothes

Be thoughtful about the clothes you choose. Different formats will require different clothes. For example, yoga instructors have a looser, comfier style since movements are slow and controlled, while HIIT instructors wear form-fitting clothes to be able to jump and do high-impact exercises without injury.

Practice Good Hygiene

If you feel like a mess, chances are you look like a mess. I’m all for rolling out of bed and heading straight to the grocery store in my sweatpants. But, there are times and places where you unfortunately have to clean up a bit. If you want your class to take you seriously, you have to be clean and groomed.

Come Prepared

Your class will not be impressed if you rush into the room late with three bags slung over your shoulder, bobby pins flying out of your hair and bits of paper falling on the floor–I could go on, but you get the idea. You have to take a few moments the night before or the morning of to get your lesson plan together and organize your gym bag. Even before you leave your car, make sure all of your belongings are in their place and you can walk into that gym like you own the place.

I think appearances and first impressions are a very sensitive subject. Who am I to judge how you want to dress and carry yourself throughout the day? Like the saying goes, you do you, boo! No matter how you choose to dress or groom, it’s important to keep in mind that your students are watching. From there, it’s up to you to decide what feels authentic to your teaching style and personality.

In case you were wondering: why do I have a shirt that says Canada? It’s a souvenir and reminder of my first (and only) international solo trip–I went to Niagara Falls!