LMAP: What inspired you to become a Les Mills Instructor?
I was inspired by my peers when working at the YMCA in Porto Alegre (Brazil). I was a trainee at the time and was helping out in the classes with things like technique. I always loved teaching and had a passion for music, so the idea of putting the two together was something that really excited me. I would join the instructors while they were practising their classes before teaching to members, and I found the music in BODYPUMP really motivating. I wanted to train to deliver the same awesome classes that they were teaching. It was fun and the energy in the room was always insane. Even though the pay for classes in Brazil was terrible (only $3 Reais per class (about 1AUD!), I was so inspired by the impact my peers were making on their members, that I wanted to be a part of that too.
LMAP: It took you more than one attempt to complete your BODYPUMP Initial Module Training. Tell us about this experience and how it all led to where you are today.
When I attended the module, while I enjoyed music, I didn’t understand musicality – so I was completely raw. I didn’t know how to count music or know about timing in general, so although I knew the moves and the music, it wasn’t quite enough. I needed to understand how to put the moves together with the tempo. I practised by myself with just the barbell between the first and second weekends [in Brazil back then, IMTs were conducted over two weekends], thinking that I was improving my coaching. But when it came to Certification Day, it turned out that with load, I couldn’t talk, move and count all at the same time, and so I received a ‘Re-sit’.
My Trainer, Paulo Magoo, explained that if he passed me, I might be less inclined to improve. He told me to practise, and so that is what I did until the next module was available. I would sit at the back of classes just counting the beats, nothing else, and this taught me how to feel it, instead of hear it. When I dedicate myself to something I give 100 per cent, and doing so takes me to places that I never imagined. I did the entire IMT again and passed! I even got the opportunity to shadow Mark Sinclair (an original BODYPUMPer) at a Quarterly Workshop, when he came to Brazil. Then, months later, I was invited to present a track in my state’s Workshop. That was the highlight of my career in Brazil.
LMAP: What’s your advice for someone who receives a ‘re-sit’ outcome for their Initial Module Training?
When you really want something, you create a way – even if your way of learning or the journey is different from others. I knew the journey to be certified would be hard, so I covered all the basics of music counting. Tapping my foot on the ground to count the beats from the back of a studio might have seemed silly for most people, but it was gold for me.
Sometimes our best successes can be traced back to moments of let down or failure. Our setbacks in life are our biggest opportunities for growth, and if everything were easy, life wouldn’t be as exciting. If you didn’t pass on your first or second try, don’t give up. Ask for help, try a new way of doing things, and not only will that help you teach the class, I’m sure the skills and tenacity you build will help you in other aspects of your life as well.
LMAP: What support did you seek and/or receive during your Initial Module Training retake?
I was a trainee Instructor for three amazing BODYPUMP Instructors: Rafael, Silvana and Diego: Rafa “the knowledge”, Sil “the consistency”, and Diego “the showman” were the best mentors/friends you could ask for! They gave me tips and shared their experiences as full-time Instructors. Our manager used to say that I was a sponge and was getting the best of each of my mentors! I also reached out to my Trainers (Magoo, Tati and Pedro), who were also always open to sharing excellent advice, tips and feedback.
I will be forever grateful to my mentors, friends and colleagues, for all the support and kindness they gave me. Unfortunately, I can’t tell Diego (RIP), but he is immortal through the things he taught me. Rafa is one of my best friends to this day, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him. To all of the others, you were such a source of inspiration and I look back at those days with complete admiration. Every time I teach someone, I remember the way they taught me, because it gave me the best foundation I could ever ask for.
LMAP: How did you become an RPM Presenter?
I have always enjoyed being on a bike. My earliest memories were riding in a bicycle carrier with my mum, and I can still remember when she taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. This is why, shortly after passing BODYPUMP, I trained in RPM.
I loved teaching the program in Brazil but then stopped doing so when I moved to Australia because of the language barrier. It took me a year to teach my first class, and I feel sorry for those members because in the beginning no one could understand anything I was saying!
I was invited to teach freestyle cycle and I found that I really enjoyed the creative aspect of making up my own classes. I did notice, though, that I lost that sense of community you get with Les Mills classes.
When AIM 1 was launched, I signed up, just for my own personal development. Since I wasn’t teaching RPM, I bought the Release just to learn and deliver at the training. AIM was delivered by Amanda Breen (Director, People and Culture at Les Mills Asia Pacific) and I felt so inspired that I started teaching RPM again, just a few weeks later.
When AIM 2 was released, I couldn’t wait to do it. Even though I didn’t have much money, I travelled from Sydney to Brisbane to participate. Karen Russell, Lee Smith, Jako Misic and Dallas Blacklaw delivered the content, and Amanda Breen, Dee Rowell and Jason Carthouser participated with me. What an experience to have so much talent in one room!
I left the module with an ‘Advanced’ outcome, which was the standard result. I applied the feedback I’d received, and a year later, I decided to attempt it again to see if my practise made a difference. Lee Smith was the trainer for my second attempt at AIM 2; he had just come back from filming an RPM Release in New Zealand and was super inspiring. I gave my everything in those two days and walked away with an ‘Elite’ outcome. I then got invited to ‘shadow’ Amanda Breen and Iain Henessy at Quarterly Workshops.
Our Advanced Instructor Module (AIM1 & AIM2) product has been phased out of our training offering and has been since replaced with our new Advanced Training Module. To learn more about Advanced Training, click here.
After this, I loved teaching my classes; and as a result, they were packed with members who kept giving me positive feedback after each class.
A year later, I participated in a LES MILLS SPRINT® class at a Quarterly Workshop led by Amanda Breen and Dallas Blacklaw. My girlfriend at the time (now wife), suggested I train in SPRINT because if there’s anything I love as much as being on a bike, it’s High Intensity Interval Training! At that point, I didn’t sign up because I was already teaching freestyle cycle and RPM, and didn’t really know much about SPRINT. But she ended up buying the module for me as a gift, and from the morning of the module, I was hooked!
During the module, the Trainer suggested I look out for future Presenter opportunities. And so, when the try outs rolled around, I applied for both RPM and SPRINT. I passed the pre-selection phase and went through bootcamp, which was an awesome experience! I was so energised by the people around me – so much so that I got too excited in the track I was presenting, and hit my forehead on the handlebars during one of my dives at the beginning of a surge! But that didn’t stop me (but by the end of the class, I did have some blood running down my face!).
After bootcamp, I was approved to be a Presenter in RPM!
LMAP: What's your advice for an Instructor who wants to become a Les Mills Presenter?
Trust the process and be prepared when the opportunity comes. The hard work and extra training is so worth it, and the skills learned will help you in other aspects of life. If you aspire to become a Presenter, go to your favourite Instructor’s classes, film yourself, and give yourself feedback and ask to team-teach. Sometimes we’re afraid of feedback, but without it, how do you know how to improve?
Also, if it makes you nervous, then it’s probably worth it!
To follow Cassiano Margoni on Instagram check out cass_margoni