Celebrating Instructor Excellence on International Women's Day
by Analee Gale
Lauren is a 28-year-old based in Western Sydney (Australia). She’s been an instructor for 18 months and teaches BODYSTEP and BODYPUMP.
“I’ve always played sport but I used to be much heavier than I am now. In fact, at one stage I hit 90kg and was a solid size 16. This actually gave me the drive to start training seriously, which led me to become a regular gym junkie!
Lauren got into training because the gyms she attended offered group fitness, which she found more appealing than having to do her own thing in the weights and cardio area.
“My local gym offered multiple Les Mills programs, so I jumped in and have never looked back!”
Lauren’s first Les Mills experience was with BODYPUMP. Despite not being able to walk easily for the following few days, Lauren loved it! She then tried Les Mills GRIT, but found it too intense so reverted back to BODYPUMP, which she enjoyed so much she decided to become an instructor!
“I was completing my Certificate III in Fitness and knew I was more interested in group fitness than personal training. So I made the leap and underwent my initial training for BODYSTEP – and I love it!”
“Initial Module Training (IMT) was amazing. I made some amazing friendships, and 18 months on, we’re still coordinating quarterlies so we can catch up with each other. IMT has helped me become the instructor (and person) I am today.”
“What I love most about being an instructor is seeing members reach their goals and lead happier healthier lifestyles. I also love the fact that some of the kids can’t wait to be old enough to try a class! Also, I know that some members may be going through a tough time in their life, and they chose me and my classes to take time out for themselves, to try and improve their mental health – I take that responsibility seriously.”
“To me, teaching feels more like a hobby than a job. It’s easy to get up at 430am when you love what you do. My family joke around, saying that the gym is my boyfriend, but they’re really happy I’m doing something I love. Although I have to say, the worst thing about being an instructor is the amount of washing I have!”
What characteristics do you have, which help you in your Instructor role?
“When I’m teaching on stage I can do anything and I can be anyone, which is fun! I’m a laid back, relaxed person so even in BODYPUMP, I’ll crack a joke to get some smiles. For me, it just has to be fun!”
To anyone considering becoming an instructor, Lauren says, “Don’t think about it anymore; bite the bullet and take the chance – after all, what’s the worst that can happen? You can only regret the chances you don’t take!”
Some 4,000+ kilometres away, in Quezon City Philippines, 37-year-old mum to three, Menchu Peralta has been a Les Mills instructor for 14 years.
Currently qualified to teach BODYATTACK, BODYBALANCE, BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, BODYSTEP, BODYPUMP, LES MILLS GRIT, RPM, SPRINT, Menchu developed a passion for sport during her childhood.
“I grew up loving sports, performing on stage in front of so many people. When I was in high school, I’ve been part of the taekwondo varsity team. My love for performing and sports continued when I joined the cheerleading team at the university where I graduated.” Menchu first discovered Les Mills when her now husband (her then college boyfriend and cheerleading teammate), invited her to attend the fitness centre where he taught Les Mills classes.
“As a cheerleader with a love for dancing, the first program I became interested in was BODYJAM. I enjoyed every single moment and loved the beat, the adrenaline – just everything about it.”
“To me, the best thing about being an instructor, is the wonderful feeling of respect that you get from participants. The moment you step on stage, they listen to what you say and what you do, because they know you have the capabilities and the knowledge that makes you not only an instructor, but an educator. They believe in you and you have the power to help them achieve their fitness goals.”
“Of course, being an instructor is not an easy task. Yes it is an amazing feeling to stand up and perform in front of people, but it’s not easy. You’ll get to experience some rude participants that will underestimate your work, your personality and anything else about you that they don’t like; but the rewards always far outweigh any negatives.”
“To new instructors, my best tip is that nothing beats good preparation for your craft; you always have to come prepared. You also need to get to know your participants. The key to this is creating a positive, lively and welcoming vibe to help them feel that the time they spend in your class with you is worth it. You also have to learn how to handle different situations, both bad and good, in a positive and a professional way – every time.”
“I completed Advanced Training for BODYATTACK, and I found it to be a very different but amazing experience. At first, I was thinking that this might be just the same knowledge from the previous AIM trainings, but it’s not. It will give you more knowledge about yourself and your participants, so you can create an even more positive atmosphere and mind set. It teaches you how to help people even more, in their journey to achieve a healthier lifestyle; and it’s a unique experience for each and every person in the room.”
Menchu believes the secret to a long career as an instructor is to remain healthy – not only physically but also mentally. She also says that a great instructor will always stay positive, even during challenging times.
“Like everything in life, Les Mills programs have also evolved over time; from the music, the moves, the scientific knowledge behind it – but what hasn’t changed is how it’s always fun and effective.”
“I think my most memorable Les Mills experience was when I attended the live filming in New Zealand, which was BODYCOMBAT 60! I was standing in the second row behind the two tall guys when some crew told me to move forward and stay in between them. They looked at each other and from that moment when the class started, I showed them what I was capable of, and that I was worthy of being in the front row! ‘You go girl!’ and ‘What a power you have!’ were some of the things people behind, said to me. I know I’m small but I use it as an inspiration to do big things!”
In addition to this memory, Menchu says one of the best about being a Les Mills instructor is the opportunity to make new friends and meet up with all different instructors from all over the world, as part of her ongoing training.
To anyone considering becoming an instructor, Menchu says, “Trust the process. Recognise that everyone’s journey will be different, it won’t always be easy, and you can’t please everyone – especially when you’re new. People will like you but there are some who will not, but as the time goes by they will know what you’re capable of. Just love what you do and people will love you for it!”