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Finding Your Fitness Guru

Michael Olajide in Action

Michael Olajide in Action

Fitness gurus have marked stages of my life just as much as the basics (jobs, apartments, relationships, etc) have.  Michael Olajide (who taught me that boxing training can get you fit faster than almost anything else) and Elena Brower (who taught me that yoga and gymnastics aren’t very far apart) marked my NYC years…Les Leventhal (yoga) was a constant in my life in San Francisco…and now two local teachers — Alyssa Blau (spin) and Rebecca Bara (yoga) — are my go-to people in the ‘burbs.  Finding a teacher you love is super personal and involves a lot of trial and error, but finding someone who speaks to you is beyond worth it.  In fact, I’ll go as far as to say it can change your life.  Because a great teacher doesn’t just help you learn new things, but they also inspire you, cheer you on, get you out of bed at 5am, and push you further than you can push yourself.  And if they’re really, really, really good (Michael Olajide is an example), they create an amazing community of people who, without the equalizing force of the gym or the class or the experience, would probably never meet.  The community I connected with through Michael taught me things about myself and the world that I might have otherwise never discovered, and for that, I am forever grateful.

There are so many awesome classes out there today, that unless you want (like a friend of mine does) to be totally 100% anonymous during your workouts, it’s a shame not to find one that that works for you.  TRX, CrossFit, boot camp, FlyWheel, Soul Cycle, zumba, Bar Method, Dailey Method, power yoga, hot yoga…the list is endless (and I’ll cover my favorites in more detail on this blog in future posts).  And, if you find a class you love, you owe it to yourself to find a teacher who makes that class great. When I’m searching, here are a few questions I ask myself:

  • Is the teacher in it for him/herself or for the students?  While I like my teachers to be super fit, it’s more important to me that they’re invested in helping every single person in the class have an amazing workout
  • Does the teacher introduce him/herself to new people after class?  Does he seem like he cares about me as a person?
  • Is the teacher an athlete him/herself?  For example, I tend to learn more from cycling instructors who actually ride bikes that go somewhere too
  • How do I feel — about my whole self — when I’m done with the class?

If you don’t have a teacher (or a coach or a trainer) who makes you want to get stronger and be better right now, maybe it’s time to start looking for one.  And if you do, who is it and what makes them so special?

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