How teaching Group Fitness prepared me for the real world

*About the author: Kimberly Kirt is a UW-Madison graduate (‘15) currently living in Dallas, TX. She works at one of the largest registration software companies in the world, ACTIVE Network, teaches indoor cycling at Flywheel Sports, and has recently launched her own digital marketing company, Digital Media Ninja. Keep reading to learn about Kimber’s experience as a Group Fitness instructor.

The UW-Madison Group Fitness training program ranks among the best in the country. This alone could be the number one reason you might want to become an instructor at Rec Well. But you also may be thinking, “I’m an engineering major, business major, art major — I should only focus my energy on roles and opportunities relating to my field.”

Wrong. First off, you probably got into UW-Madison because you are an incredibly smart individual who also managed to maintain a few club memberships, serve in leadership roles, and maybe even play a sport or perform in the band. In other words, you are well rounded.

That doesn’t stop once you make it to college. Employers are looking for the same thing. I graduated from UW-Madison as a Communications major with a certificate in Digital Studies. One of my best friends, a current Rec Well Group Fitness instructor, is on her way to earning her PhD in Medical Physics. We have two very different degree paths, and yet both of us have noticed that people are very interested when they see this position featured on a resume.

I’m going to break down a few ways that teaching Group Fitness at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has prepared me for the real world:
Public Speaking: After teaching a room of 10-50 people 2-5x a week, any fear of speaking in front of a crowd flies out the window. Not only are you accentuating your words so they sound crisp and clear through the speakers, but you are also moving and breaking down large concepts (i.e. a squat) into bite-sized, easy-to-understand instructions.
Leadership: You’re leading the class, enough said.
Criticism: The ability to give and receive constructive criticism. You will learn to recognize where others have the ability to grow, rather than seeing flaws, while constantly evolving your own knowledge.
Self-Starter: Teaching Group Fitness requires a weekly commitment to class design, music selection, and creativity! This falls on you, and the success of your class ultimately depends on how prepared you are. You must be motivated to complete this task solely for the outcome of the session, not a grade you get at the end of the semester.
Time Management:
Level 1: Managing a job while getting good grades, having a social life, and taking in all the wonderful things the city of Madison has to offer.
Level 2: Fitting in an effective, well-rounded workout within your 30, 45, or 60-minute class. This involves planning, practice, and more practice.
Level 3: Setting up your class to begin a set/movement in under 30 seconds to keep your class flowing.
Level 1: Dedicating yourself to 2-5 set times per week, outside of academic class, that you cannot ditch at the last minute because “you didn’t want to go.”
Level 2: This is where it gets real. Walking to teach a class in a snowstorm. I moved to Dallas because I really dislike cold weather (despite being born and raised in Wisconsin). The crazy thing is that after a few times you don’t even complain about it. You don’t even think about not going. It is your responsibility and something you have complete ownership over.

Convinced yet? If not, the resume is just a small fragment of how Group Fitness and fitness in general prepared me for life after college and really, changed my life. All of those characteristics are not just words on paper. They are something that, if practiced daily, become a part of who you are.

Teaching Group Fitness gave me the ability to have an impact on others, and that becomes addicting. To be genuinely excited about the progress and success of others rather than focusing on just yourself is a huge personal growth moment. This is one of the biggest ways this job changed my life.

Semester after semester, you will hear stories of students and staff telling you how much your class meant to them. I’ve had people say, “you’re the only reason I look forward to Monday,” “thank you for your smile,” and even larger scale things: stories of weight loss, increased mental health, and “I couldn’t have gotten my PhD without you!” It is an incredible feeling and inspires you to be your best every day.

In conclusion, this job rocks. Fitness is empowering and teaching others is even more fulfilling. If you still aren’t convinced, hit me up on Instagram @kimberlki — and I can answer any and all of your questions!