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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!

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Victoria’s Secret Sport Review: Knockout Tights

For any group fitness instructor who has had to go through the agony of wearing saggy, see-through workout pants, this Victoria’s Secret Sport review is for you. I’ve had my fair share of terrible workout bottoms, and I know I’m not alone. There are so many pants out there that will stretch out after a couple washes, and start to fall at the waist during yoga or strength training.

It’s also mortifying to have your underwear or skin show through the pants because the fabric is too thin. I experienced this first hand a few years ago in one of my 6 a.m. weekday strength classes. One of my participants was courteous enough to tell me after class that when i bent into child’s pose to stretch my pants got really thin —talk about mortifying.

After that experience, I thought my search for the perfect workout pants would never end. But then I stumbled upon Victoria’s Secret Sport, and now I finally have a go-to pair of workout bottoms. The Victoria’s Secret Sport Knockout Tight, Crop or Capri will become a staple in your fitness wardrobe.

Victoria's Secret Sport Review

Victoria’s Secret Sport Review: The Fit

What I love about the workout tight, capri and crop is that they’re high rise, so you can squat and twist without worrying that the pants are going to sag too low. They’re also 23 percent Lycra, and I’ve washed mine a bunch of times and they’re still holding up good.

The one thing to remember when it comes to fit is that these run pretty small. I wear a size small, and they sometimes feel like they are suctioned to my body. When I’m teaching group exercises classes, it’s great because that fit helps to make sure the pants stay up and support me throughout the class. But, they’re not the type of pants you’d wear to lounge around the house or get cozy. Once you shimmy into these bad boys, you’ll feel inspired to work out. They’re those types of pants.

Victoria’s Secret Sport Review: The Material

The fabric is super thick — it feels like a scuba material. The fabric does not show through no matter how you twist and turn. Some of the fabrics do have a sheen to them, which makes it seem like you can see through it, but it really is thick. If you prefer lightweight, breathable fabrics, this may not be for you. I personally love the sturdiness and thickness of the fabric.

Victoria’s Secret Sport Review: The Prints

So far, I’ve gone pretty simple in my pant selection. I have two pairs of tights — one all black and the other black with some pink details. I also have a pair of black crop pants with a rainbow side detail. I did buy my mom a pair of purple capri pants for Christmas that she liked. But, when looking online, they had a lot of fun options to choose from. There are bold prints, more simple ones like the ones I have and then solid colors, as well.

Victoria’s Secret Sport Review: The Price

At full price, the knockout crop, capri and tight options are costly. I just can’t bring myself to shell out $60+ on a pair of workout pants. But, the good news is that these go on sale all the time, since the company is really pushing their new Victoria Sport brand. You’ll definitely want to wait for a sale, and you’ll likely be able to get them for around $30.

If you’ve read this far into my Victoria’s Secret Sport review, it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of these workout bottoms. They give me peace of mind that my clothes will hold up against my workout, so I can focus on giving my members the best fitness class possible.

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

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich!

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What Not to Wear to Teach Your First Group X Class

What Not to Wear to Your First Group X Class

Teaching your first Group X class can be a nerve-wracking experience. There are plenty of other things to worry about, without having to stress over what to wear during that first class as the fitness instructor. As someone who has been teaching for more than half a decade, I’ve learned a few fitness fashion faux paus the hard way. Most embarrassingly, I’ve had someone come up to me after class to tell me my workout pants were see-through. Rather than let you experience these mortifying moments on your own, I’ve put together the following tips to help you get through your first, and every, group fitness class sans wardrobe malfunctions.

Here’s what you should NOT wear to your first Group X class as the instructor.

Brand-new clothes

It’s always a good idea to wear workout gear at least once before teaching in it. We’ve all had that shirt that ends up being too low or the pants that sag with every squat. It’s best to realize those issues when you don’t have a roomful of people staring at you. Especially for first-time instructors, pick clothes that you know you’ll be comfortable in and won’t have to play with the whole time.

Group X instructor Michelle in workout clothes

Thin or loose pants

You’ll want shorts, capri pants or regular pants that fit well. That means they don’t pull down when you move around. Also, your pants shouldn’t be so thin that they’re see through when you’re doing squats or lower body stretches. I love Victoria’s Secret new sports capris. They’re really thick, and the pair I own haven’t stretched out in the wash after months of use.

Workout Pants for Group X


Baggy clothes

Form-fitting clothes are important, so that participants can see your form while you’re demonstrating exercises. Make sure your clothes are decently-tight, so that other folks are able to tell what you’re doing with each activity. Most exercise clothes will fit well, but leave those baggy cotton T-shirts at home. I like Under Armour’s tanks tops because they are tight without the squeeze.

Tank Top for Group X

Spaghetti straps and/or just a sports bra

I’ve heard horror stories of fitness instructors or participants that get a rash or bacterial infection from laying directly on the mats or dirty benches. To prevent that, you’ll want to wear a shirt with sleeves. Of course, this will depend on what class you’re teaching. For example, wearing sleeves won’t make much of a difference during a spin class. If you are set on rocking the sports bra or have a favorite tank top you aren’t ready to part with, make sure you put a clean towel down before you lay on the mat, floor, etc.

I have one short sleeve shirt that’s been in my closet for years, and isn’t sold anymore. The other short sleeve shirts I’ve purchased recently have been disappointing. One that’s on my wish list is the Lululemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve.

Workout Shirt for Group X


Hair that will interfere with the headset

Finally, make sure your hair will be comfortable when you put the headset on. My go-to options are a medium to high-pony or a French braid. These hairstyles will let the headset rest between your ears and on the very back of your scalp.

Best Hairstyles for Group X

With the above tips, you’ll be able to feel comfortable about your clothes, so you can focus on teaching a stellar class. And, if you look good, you feel good!

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

(Image Source: PopSugar)