*Repost Alert* – This was originally posted during the summer of 2017, but it’s never a bad time to be reminded of your beginning. This applies to so much more than teaching.
“You don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start to be great.” Zig Ziglar
If you’ve been to the studio, or one of our events, or even out to a club with the whole gang of us … it’s hard to imagine what the beginning was like. I’ve been teaching nearly 2-dozen different types of fitness classes, for nearly 7 years. If I had to guess, I’d say that clocks in at about 5-6,000 hours of learning. Probably way more.
I will humbly admit that many, many teachers have asked me my “secret.” They ask me “how I do it.” Well, I’m by no means an expert, but I have learned a lot. It wasn’t always easy, and it certainly didn’t always feel great. As my husband’s favorite singer “Granger Smith” says: “A lesson can’t be learned, unless there’s a mistake.” My lord were there mistakes.
So, here I am. I’m going to share my “Secret.”
My entire first year I taught classes averaging at around 3 students … and one was my mom. Oh, and the other my now sister-in-law. It’s every teacher’s nightmare, really. Learning the class is crazy hard, sure, but putting in the effort for single digit classes is way harder. Most teachers give up for this very reason. But I didn’t. I knew this was bigger than me. So I pushed on.
I went from teaching 1-2 classes a week, to 5-6 at 3 different private studios around Worcester, MA. To 10 classes, at 5 different locations. I was also in my Master’s program and working full time.
I’d co-teach with some of the amazing instructors I’d met along the way. I even watched dozens of students become inspired enough to become teachers themselves. I was volunteering at dozens of charity events all over … some with a crew, some alone. Some with 5 “participants” … some with 5,000. I even agreed to an event not realizing it was 1.5 hours away. In the middle of the summer. On a massive stage. Alone. Still went. I still pushed on.
Some of the studios I taught at, I had to bring my own sound system. I attached it to a folding dolly with rubber bands so I could roll it along with my (huge) suitcase. Oh, my beloved suitcase. It contained clothes, accessories, etc. to sell. I would hang the clothes on a rack before class for display. Sometimes I just neatly spread them out on the floor because the racks kept breaking. Man, did I push on.
I asked every single student for their email and sent them weekly newsletters letting them know where I’d be. Sometimes last minute email cancellations because a studio I taught at was locked and I didn’t have a key.
I’ve taught in a power out
age. Played the music from my phone. The stomping of feet was so loud I couldn’t even hear the music. I’ve taught in the pouring rain, the freezing cold, the sweltering heat. Inside, outside. I pushed on.
I’ve watched many studios close. I just kept looking for other spots. And I kept emailing. And FB posting. And learning. The very last studio I was teaching at wasn’t working out, so I canceled the evening’s class 2 hours before.
I sent an email & a FB post to meet me at Institute Park in Worcester for a free class as a makeup. And they came. And they kept coming. More and more. Faces I hadn’t seen in months. They all came. I had no plans, but I still knew this was bigger than me. So I pushed on.
Then, miraculously, a month or so into “park teaching” … I was approached with the opportunity to open a business (what the heck? um, I’m not a small business owner … I said to myself). The rest is history. Hopefully a really long history.
In summary, I have always done 2 things consistently: Never, ever, let my mind trick me into thinking I should give up. And always teach the same class.
Always. Teach. The. Same. Class.
There it is, my secret
It doesn’t matter how many people are in your room. It doesn’t matter what time your class is, or what other teachers you compare yourself to. It doesn’t matter if your music messes up.
You have no idea what those people went through to be there, or what that single moment in their life could mean to them. Give them your best, every time.
Every single chance you get to do what you love, to truly affect lives, should be honored with the same energy, the same “show.” Scratch that, not should. MUST. Look students directly in the eyes when you’re teaching … you can see, actually SEE, them growing, becoming happier, healthier.
Always teach the same class. Oh, and push on. This is bigger than you.
Humbly & with more gratitude than words can express,
Lauren “Pigtails” Caparso