Find Your Authentic Voice

You may have noticed some fitness instructors or public speakers use a grand and over-the-top voice when using a microphone. It usually sounds quite silly and fake.

Using an authentic voice seems easy, yet it’s one of the most common struggles for us all. Perhaps because we’re actually hearing ourself talk - which isn’t normal, and it can throw us off. Maybe we don’t like what we hear, so we change it to sound “better”.  

More specifically to fitness instruction, it’s challenging to use inspirational words and phrases while sounding like a real person. When I read motivational quotes, I use a grandeur voice in my head that sounds much wiser than me. How else can I believe life is amazing and I am capable?!  Oddly enough - these motivational quotes ONLY work with an authentic, real person voice. Otherwise they sound fake, corny, or too esoteric.

Rather than rehearsing your body language and exact phrases, lead with these four aims of impression:
 

Be open to your audience

Connect with your audience

Be passionate about the brand

Listen to your audience
 

When you rehearse this way, you’ll genuinely experience these feelings when delivering your class. Your body language will emerge at the right moment and your audience will know you’re the real thing.

 

 

 

Unexpected Validation

I came into the fitness industry by accident. In high school I preferred reading a shakespeare play over team sports which was pretty much considered a sin in the small town of Shallower, Texas. 

It wasn’t until 2010, when I took my first Soul Cycle class where I discovered the cocktail of artistic expression and physical fitness. I always admired dancers, but never had the courage to embrace it as a practice of my own. In my head it was like playing the piano.. if your parents didn’t start you at age 5, you may as well write it off as a missed opportunity. 

Indoor cycling was different. I found it incredibly beautiful to close your eyes and ride in perfect rhythm with 64 other people while exploring the inner self. 

Theatre gave me the same high. It provided a physical medium for self exploration, expression, and community. 

Had you told me 5 years ago I’d be consulting luxury fitness brands on concept and experience design, I’d probably think you were crazy. However, when I take the time to indulge in art and theatre throughout my travels, I realize my purpose hasn’t changed at all. 

Know your Audience

I think that connection with humans is so important. Sometimes I’ll do this monologue and talk to the crowd, like, ‘Come on, let’s really connect here.’ I don’t think a lot of people understand it’s a two-way exchange. Some people go to a show and are like, ‘Yeah, you make me feel.’ That’s not how it works.
— Chet Faker

One of the most common mistakes made by instructors is a lack of connection and understanding with the audience. 

We can't assume the 6am clientele want the same experience as the 8:30pm. In fact, I imagine they want something quite different. It's important to be aware of the endless conditions that can affect the initial state of your audience.

Times slots, demographics, and your persona are just a few factors that may contribute to the type of people in your class. Always take a mental note of who exactly is in the room and what style of communication might work for them. 

The only way to know, is to experiment and practice. Yes, intuition is valuable, but we ought to take our practice further. Try new styles of coaching and take notes after each class. Some people may want specific details, others may not. Some may thrive on an aggressive style of motivation, while others simply want to hear the music. Of course, stay true to yourself as you try new things. Authenticity is always wins, but don't be afraid to explore. 

As instructors, we have the opportunity to change people's lives. Within a 45 minute fitness class, we can push people towards their greatest potential. However, the magic only happens once you've recognized who you're helping and what they need. 

Know your audience. Be the change they want and need. 

 

 

What is a Guru?

A guru by traditional definition is a zen type of leader or expert, yoga or master, guiding followers down the path of self discovery, showing them the way without necessarily saying it in the form of memorization. The word guru is often referenced in Hindu or Buddhist religion or practice.

It is also casually given by the western world as a reference to anyone who is an acknowledged leader or chief proponent in any sort of topic. Many people use the word synonymously with the word expert or leader.

Recently, people are are giving fitness instructors the title of Guru, crowning them with much respect and admiration. Perhaps we grant this title, because fitness experiences are no longer just a workout. Fitness has become an opportunity to explore and develop the higher self. 

A Guru provides a process of of thinking. They instill questions that lead to inward growth and outward application. The aspiration of a guru is to inspire and motivate. Every interaction that is taken with the general public is a unique opportunity to pass on a distinct passion, a natural openness, and an authentic joy and curiosity for life. Gurus are cheerleaders of personal growth, warriors against pointless negativity, and instigators of truth.

We are all our own guru. 

Know yourself through a continuous exploration with curiosity and empathy, understanding and innovation. The better you know yourself, the more you can offer. 

Be open to the energy people bring to the room. Genuinely navigate them to a common goal and community that extends far beyond that of a fitness regime. Do your best to create a safe space where people can stay humble, remain open and ready to always learn.

Be authentic with your inspirational coaching. You don't have to be profound. Through your self exploration, figure out what type of coaching resonates with you. Talk to your clientele as if they are your best friends. Make eye contact and be real. 

Positive reinforcement. Reward clientele who commit to this suspension of disbelief. For example, you can truly engage with clientele by encouraging loyalists to be in the front row; maybe you treat them to coffee, or perhaps you post photos with them on social media.
 

Be the change you want to see.
 

It's quite powerful how much influence an instructor can have on people's lives. We indeed have the chance to inspire people to reach their fullest potential in life. Become a Guru and help push this world to a better place. 

How Looking Inward Can Make You a Better Leader

Thinking: The talking of the soul with itself. ~ Plato

Knowing yourself is the first step to becoming an effective leader, business owner, and instructor. 

We can discover our Self through a continuous exploration with curiosity and empathy, understanding and innovation.

Philosophy of The Self: Ancient Knowledge of Introspection

Ancient Greek philosophers, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle respectively reflected on the nature of the Self. The self reflection of wonder within. Those guys are the ones who set precedence in the mastery of self and explored the mystery two thousand years ago. We have studied it, through institutions like Philosophy, Spirituality and Religion, Psychology and the like. Simple meditation is an ancient practice which has helped us delve even deeper into ourselves.  

How well do you know your Self? When is the last time you got lost in the moment and enjoyed the beauty of raw emotion? 

It’s time to get to know yourself if you don’t already. Once you’ve gained simple awareness, you are ready. Try starting with big picture questions like, what motivates you?

Do you have a daily activity or practice for self reflection? Perhaps you already partake in simple mindfulness, or get deeper with meditation? Do you maybe say a nightly prayer? Or do you let loose and just dance? Maybe you experience a trance while taking a regular run through your neighborhood? There are many simple types of conscious self reflection.

If you already partake in these activities of self care, how do such methods make you feel? Are they useful to your mental well being? Are they habit formed? Do we do them out of obligation, like we feel we have to, rather than because we want to?

I challenge you to look within.  

    •    Start a daily journal
    •    Ask yourself meaningful questions 

Get yourself a journal. You can use any old notebook lying around the house if you want. Or maybe you want to get a mole-skin and a calligraphy pen to bring out your inner poet. The point is the content. Carry it with you throughout the next few weeks. Start jotting down how things, people, smells, places, sounds, experiences, affect you. Does it sway your mood? Do they make you react rather than respond? How so?  Begin to explore your reactions in this way. How often do you act based on second hand beliefs? How often do you cling to preconceived notions, without venturing outside of your comfort zone?  For example, I didn’t try Curry until I was in my twenties because my parents said that it was terrible. Turns out, I absolutely love it! 

Try asking yourself the following questions: 

Who am I? Truly, deeply, at my core. Not my role in society. Not what I do for a living.  
What is my passion? What gets my blood flowing?  Do I engage in it? Why/Why not?
What makes me excited about life? What triggers a genuine joyous experience? How?
In what ways do I present myself to the world? (posture, dress, voice, confidence). Why?
What do I feel I need in order to feel happy/content? Security or freedom? Why?

Perhaps we will never truly know ourselves at the deepest level. Perhaps that is the beautiful paradox and mystery of life; to have it not figured out, per se, but to be able to truly reflect on it as part of the journey and the experience. The idea is to constantly search and always check in with ourselves and yet to also remain curious. The point is to always aspire to be better in one form or another.

The better we understand our true self, the more we can offer other people.