RateYourBurn | 12 Misconceptions About Fitness Professionals

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We recently came across one of those pinterest-style lists on the subject, which got us to thinking that the topic deserved a full post. So we put our heads together and came up with this: 12 of the most common misconceptions about fitness professionals. Are you guilty of any of these? Give your instructor a break!

misconceptions about fitness instructors

1) They're the exact same person in and out of the classroom.

Do you act exactly the same at work as you do at home? This concept is hard to comprehend for some people because an instructor's job is to pretend to be your best, smartest, and most funnest friend ever for an hour. Do you know how exhausting it is to be your most entertaining and energetic self for 60 minutes? This is their job - to support, inspire, and motivate their students by appearing to be superman. It is a massive energy drain.

A lot of instructors really savor their alone-time outside of the classroom. That's not to say that your instructor isn't fun and doesn't love to socialize; but don't be disappointed if you run into your instructor on the street and she's not bouncing off the walls/ showering you with compliments. 

That said... do many instructors have more energy than the average human? Probably. It takes a special kind of weirdo to become one :)

2) When they're not teaching, they're just chilling out.

"My instructor teaches 2 classes a day, so besides those two hours, he/she must just be living it up the rest of the day! Man, what a life."

...um, no. It takes tons of time to plan out classes, build playlists, practice cueing, etc. And when you see your instructor on social media - that's not just for pleasure, it's business. Savvy instructors know that they need to constantly engage their demographic in a social setting - if you look forward to seeing your instructor, you're more likely to come to class again!

3) They care about your...

Instructors usually aren't going to be rude about it, but there are some clients who think that their instructor is their own personal trainer/shrink/spirit guide all wrapped in one. Remember that you are not the only person in class, and that your instructor is likely trying to get some quality time in with all of your classmates, too.

4) They're single. 

...and ready to mingle. Though not all instructors milk the juju, when your job is to inspire folks to work out, you're probably turning on the charm. I cannot count the number of people I've known who have mistaken this "charm" for legitimate "flirting with intent." Just to clarify a few things:

  • They are smiling... because they're trying to engage and encourage you; because they like their job; because they know it's good for business to be a pleasant human.
  • They are touching you... because your form is off.
  • They are telling you how awesome you're doing... because that is what instructors do. They make students feel good about themselves. Or maybe because you're doing awesome. "You're doing awesome" does not mean "Get in my pants."
  • They are connecting with you on facebook... because that's what savvy business people do: Connect with their clients.

Now, of course there are exceptions. But you cannot apply "normal flirting standards" when deciding whether an instructor is actually into you - there is a good chance it's just their stage presence.

5) They're wearing pricey workout clothes, so they must be making good money.

Unless you're super elite, you're probably not rolling in dough as a fitness instructor. You've chosen this career because you love it, not because of a get-rich-quick scheme.

Your instructor's clothes are their work uniform. Many instructors invest in nice workout clothing because:

  • They work out all the time. The mileage they're getting out of those lulus makes your target tank seem expensive - if divide price by hours worn.
  • Looking sharp is part of their job. They are in the customer relations business. Looking good is good business.

6) They must remember you from that class you took a month ago.

Have you ever thought to calculate how many people your instructor sees on a daily basis? It can vary widely, but the answer can be well into the hundreds depending on class size and number of classes taught. Instructors do tend to be better than your average human at remembering names, because that's part of their job, but don't expect them to remember you if you aren't coming to class on a regular basis.

7) The instructor is the strongest person in the room.

Were the top NFL coaches also the highest-achieving players? On occasion, but usually not. The skill of teaching is not the same as the skill of doing.

Your teacher should have amazing form, and your teacher is likely very strong from years in the business. But what makes an amazing teacher is the ability to impart knowledge, to help you be your strongest. If you want to ogle a human with ridiculous strength, turn on ESPN2 and check out the Crossfit Games or a Strong Man competition.

8) They would judge you if they knew what you ate/drank last night.

Instructors are people too. In fact, most people who are drawn to this industry (our team at RYB included) are people who have seen the "dark side" and know that indulging and going overboard are part of life. They know you are human, they know you make mistakes every day - they're here to inspire you to be the best version of yourself. It's not a perfect version, it's the best version.

They would also be out of a job if everyone knew how to eat perfectly and work out perfectly on their own.

9) Waking up at 5AM "comes naturally" to them.

Ever assume your instructor is "just a morning person"? Probably more like a talented performer. Instructors know that their job depends on energizing their clients - especially at the ass-crack of dawn. Many morning teachers take pride in their ability to play this role.

10) This is just a hobby, right?

Don't ever disrespect your instructor by asking this, or even thinking this. There is a ton of time, blood, sweat, and preparation that goes into teaching - don't mistake your instructor's chipper, social attitude to mean that they just do this for fun. It is fun - but it is also a profession.

11) They're probably too cool to want to know you outside of the classroom.

"But doesn't this contradict numbers 1, 3, and 4?" you ask. No!

Your instructor might not want to date you, or hear about all of your problems, or be stalked by you (stalking sucks, don't do it) - but instructors are people. They often form meaningful relationships with students that transcend the classroom. Even if you don't become your instructor's best friend of time, chances are they'd be happy to connect with you over social media, or that they'd wave hello if they saw you on the street.

12) They're so awesome/popular that it probably won't mean anything to them to get one more positive RateYourBurn review.

There is no person on earth who doesn't love being appreciated for doing what they do. In fact, given the fact that instructors give up their lives up for a career that has made relatively few rich and famous, safe to say that they're doing it because they love it. Make no mistake - writing a review about how much you love your favorite instructor will most definitely, 100% make their day :)

What do you think burners? What are other common misconceptions about fitness instructors?


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Comments 10 Comments

Angel Stone 08/06/2013

Spot on. Thank you. And Good Night.

Alicia Miller 08/06/2013

SO TRUE!  this made me smile Smile

Former Fattie 08/06/2013

"Stalking suck, don't do it."

I feel like this was pointed at me. But then I also feel like you must all say it as a mantra each morning.

Lactic Addict 08/06/2013

@Angel and @Alicia - thank you! Glad you enjoyed!

@Former Fattie - hahahahahha.

Stephanie O'Neill 08/06/2013

Agree!! Great article Smile

ariane hundt 08/07/2013

Fantastic article and spot on! I felt like you were writing about me :-

Twan 08/08/2013

BAM! Absolutely true, hahaha....  Already laughing about it for more than an hour Laughing

Jenn Menzer 08/13/2013

So true! Love this! Just posted.

Pilatesgirl 08/15/2013

I'd like to add to #5: Because I get instructor discounts at the nice stores AND my clothes are tax-deductible #10: It's not my "hobby" when I obtained a Masters degree and keep up national and multiple certifications.

Becca 09/19/2013

Perfect! One for more ya: We're not superhuman... we get injured too and we often try to work through it. When we're broken, we're broken, please try to understand!!