Stronger Together

In the past year, thanks to fitness app ClassPass, I've been been able to take over 500 fitness classes in over 20 cities in the US and Canada at the best yoga, boxing, HIIT, and gym clubs in North America. The lessons have been multiple. There is plenty of physical activity to participate in to stay healthy and happy. With my yoga background, It's hard to avoid that in just about every fitness class you will see yoga-based warm ups or cool down stretches. There is a high volume of yoga, an excitement to the boxing community, and an apparent growth in interval training. But in general, gyms are still pretty boring-looking operations hosted in industrial buildings or commercial floors, although a varied fitness class schedule can keep you physically busy. It all works. But I continue to believe that yoga is a contemplative practice that has the best form of movement that is good medicine for your body, mind, and spirit. It is more holistic than anything I know.

But say yoga doesn't work for you, what then?

Perhaps it isn't much about the type of class but the class quality and pacing of most fitness instructors. I have found this to be key when attending any class. Balancing form, function, fun, and feeling good about being there is part of the experience and giving the attendee a reason to come back. One of my favorite classes in NYC at the Overthrow Boxing Club is a taught by a cool, hip, boxing instructor in the Bowery, nicknamed Rage, who balances fun and form with good instruction. Many times, however, I've noticed a need and expectation to impress attendees by trying to make the class hard and challenging. I simply say that it is overemphasized and overdone.

Often, what this class culture really means is a loud teacher telling to push further and faster redundantly throughout class. As in, is this the only class you're ever going to take?

Relax teacher, it's a marathon not a sprint.

This is the real issue: fast-paced, militaristic, and pushy fitness instruction delivery is trying too hard to impress their audience. It's honestly off-putting and I find it hard to justify the often over-priced commercial culture of the fitness community. Maybe fast and adrenaline-driven is your way, but surely not for all. I tend to prefer working out as a fun and challenging activity but ease up, it ain't my last class! I think focusing on consistency, commitment, pacing, and gradual improvement of the best you—in mind, body, and spirit—is the process and class worth finding.

I am by no means against challenging yourself to do better real-time with the support and encouragement of the fitness instructor. Do it! I have a lot of respect for all types of fitness instructors. I'm simply suggesting that more time can be spent on our true intention and end result: the daily marathon and daily discipline to feeling a little healthier and happier with each forward step.

It doesn't have to be so pushy. 

Or does it?

Find something that works for you and not some fitness trend-setter more concerned with keeping his class numbers up.  

Fitness instructor, leave the students alone and let us do our thing.


Photo via skeeze via Visual Hunt

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About The Author

Henry Cross's picture

Henry Cross grew up in sunny Miami, Florida. Upon graduating high school, he moved to the politicized Washington, D.C. and double majored in History and Politics at the Catholic University. He served as a social studies teacher in Prince George’s County Public School in 2008-2009. In the fall of 2009, he moved to New York City to continue and grow his work in education and service.

He joined Hosh Yoga in 2011 as a teacher and Program Director. And since 2013, he founded and expanded programming for the organization with Hosh Kids and Hosh Seniors. Henry's entrepreneurial spirit helped developed the organizational, program, and financial capacity of the nonprofit to deliver self-sustaining and self-supporting health and wellness services to over 3,000 children, adults, and seniors every month in a cost-effective and fairly-priced way. And from 2014 to 2016, he participated in a philanthropic role by expanding the programming, policy, and public advocacy efforts of the Sonima Foundation as Community Relations Director.

His work has been featured by the Huffington PostElephant JournalBlog Talk RadioThe NYC Social Innovation FestivalSocial Venture Institute, and multiple Brooklyn and Queens newspapers. He is an appointed New York City official of Community Board 5 in Queens, serves on a Department of Youth and Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board, and on the board of directors of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association. And in 2015, Henry was selected as an etsy.org business fellow and awarded Top 40 Under 40 Nonprofit Rising Star. He finds joy in his community work service everyday and loves ballroom dancing!

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