Although some of you may know me as the Intuitive Life and Business Coach that I am now, I was a fitness instructor for many years, since 2008. While I was at a corporate job doing brand management and marketing, I also taught fitness classes. After starting my own fitness company, CO2Fit, I transitioned my business to Intuitive Life and Business Coaching, and now, I help high performing business women who are really committed to big goals and making a difference in the world playing big in their business and getting the results that they deserve.
I’ve noticed that there are some things that I had learned as a group fitness instructor which have helped me tremendously as an entrepreneur. Here are those 5 Business Success Tips I learned from teaching fitness classes.
1. Show Up
The most important thing I learned from being a fitness instructor is to show up. When I was a fitness instructor, it was never an option to bail out of a class that I was scheduled for. Your name was on the schedule, so if you are teaching, you had better show up! Unless the gym closes, or there’s a massive leak in the gym, it was never a consideration to bail out or not show up.
I see this a lot in entrepreneur world. Often, we treat showing up like it’s something we could do or do without. We give ourselves too much leeway and freedom not to do the work. Just like at fitness classes, people are going to come to that room expecting to have a workout, we must act like there are people who rely on us showing up and delivering our work, even when we don’t feel like it.
Even when you don’t feel like working out, or when you feel a little bit under the weather, or when you don’t feel prepared, or don’t think you’ll do an excellent job. It’s never an option not to show up to the class as a fitness instructor. The same kind of commitment and work ethics can help us stay consistently visible in our business, too.
What I learned as a fitness instructor is that it takes a long time to build a class. There were times that I inherited a class that was “dying,” where I’d be teaching to a crowd of 2-3 people, week after week. You still have to show up and do the work, deliver your product, deliver your service, even if it felt like the process is taking too long.
Often, entrepreneurs quit too soon. Let’s say you create a workshop or webinar, and you start to closely monitor how many people are signing up for that course. I feel like entrepreneurs are too quick to cancel when they don’t meet the initial numbers they expect.
I think that’s a big mistake. If five people went to the trouble of signing up, even when you had been expecting twenty people, I believe you should still deliver. As a fitness instructor, whether five people showed up or twenty, you would never cancel. For those five people, you give them the best you got. They held up their end of the bargain, so you have to deliver your product.
Second, it’s a practice for you. How are you going to get better at teaching the class or offering the service if you keep canceling and never deliver? The only ways to get better at what we do is doing it.
If we give up too soon, and we have no idea that all the effort that we’ve been making has been creating this buzz, creating this energy, creating excitement, and if you don’t follow through, you will never know how big or successful it could have gotten.
Patience when you feel frustrated with the progress, or the slowness of it, or when any of those self-critical thoughts come up, you cannot give up. It takes time, consistency, and persistence.
3. Break the Rules
Sometimes you have to break the rules or change the game plan. Be flexible, roll with it. Some days, I’d be really pumped to go into a fitness class with a hard butt-kicking workout plan. Then I will see that people who showed up for the class includes exercise newbies, seniors, people healing from injuries. There’s no way that I could execute the planned class – I will have to modify my plan.
Sometimes you have to change your game plan, even though you’re so excited and gung-ho about your original game plan, you need to adjust it. I trained in a program that was very rigid, where there was always a routine, and we couldn’t deviate from it. But then, I would see people lifting things in the wrong way, bad forms, inches away hurting themselves. I had to break the rules, stop my routine and correct their movements so they didn’t hurt themselves.
Many women fear breaking rules or changing plan, because I don’t know, we have all kinds of fear of upsetting someone else (who?) or being criticized (who again?). But we have to get grounded in why we’re doing what we're doing. To serve, to heal, to empower, to teach. You want to serve your client at their highest good, not compromise it listening to our own fears.
My friend Beth says, “Adapt, adapt, adapt on the fly!” This is the goal. It’ll help you evolve.
4. Authenticity Goes a Long Way
I’ve always been really big on authenticity. If I messed up while I was teaching, people knew. If I was doing the exercise with you, and if it sucked, and if it hurt, you could see it on my face. I’d often say, “It sucks, I’m here with you.”
Being authentic, sharing your own mess up, being vulnerable, these are the things that connect you to your clients and your audience. I would mentor newbie instructors, and find out they are really good at faking it. They didn’t want to show their weakness. Their fear of failure was so great, that they acted like a completely different people because they were scared to death of making a mistake.
People can see that. When you’re not authentic and when you’re not grounded in who you are, the experience that people get from that fitness class will never be as powerful as one that was completely authentic and real. I would always say to the newbie instructors, “Be yourself! Chill the fuck out! This is just an aerobics class, you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to be you!”
It’s the same for entrepreneurs, we need to stay authentic, especially for those people who want to build an online business or people who are trying to do a lot of public presentations or public speaking, or using social media for their business.
If you don’t keep it real, especially on social media, people see that. Energy is energy and your audience will see it. You’re not going to be able to build success if you feel like you have to play certain parts, or cover your authenticity, or package it nicely, or anything like that. Authenticity goes the long way. Vulnerability, humor, everything about who you are, that goes the long way. That’s the magic.
Relationships that you build are so important. Some fitness instructors would show up to teach their class and they wouldn’t talk to people before the class, wouldn’t engage with people after the class, they would just show up, do their thing, and book out of the gym. They’re missing a huge part of creating their “fitness magic.”
Connecting with people after those classes made me one of the most popular fitness instructors in all the gyms that I worked at. Without that connection, you’re just another fit body showing up and moving your body to the music.
In business, you also have to create those relationships and that community. When you start to engage with people authentically, that connection builds and you become a tribe. Those loyal, supportive people help you grow and become successful.
When I decided to go from being a part-time fitness instructor to starting CO2Fit full time, so many people supported me. They wore my t-shirts, shared my posts on social media, told everyone about me. Even recently at a business networking meeting, I met a woman who recognized my name because some of her closest friends had trained with me! Those connections are helping me connect and grow my business years later.
So what do you think about these tips? Can you see how we can learn so much about being an entrepreneur just from being an aerobics instructor? We never know whatever past experience we have help us in the future. What kind of past professional experience have you had that helps you become successful in what you do now? I would love to hear what you think!
Also watch FB live video of me talking about this very topic here: Coach Seo
Meet Seo Kelleher, an intuitive coach for life and business, committed to empowering women. "I am passionate about helping women find the courage to transform their lives by embracing their vulnerability and taking the responsibility."