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9 Ways Teaching Fitness is Similar to Being a Photographer | Friday Chatter

April 27, 2018

Happy FRIDAY! I’m gearing up for a busy weekend, with an engagement session and my first wedding of many this year! I’ll be second shooting for a sweet industry friend, and I am so excited that wedding season is officially HERE!

Today’s post is one that I’ve been dying to write for a long time! I’ve been teaching fitness for about 4 years total now (WOW time flies!!), and I have been teaching barre in DC for a great company called Flywheel Sports for just over a year and a half! Teaching and photography are two of of my favorite things ever, and I am so grateful to be able to do even more of both these days! Like I mentioned, I have been dying to write this post for such a long time… because when I tell people what I do for a living, they often look at me like I have 14 heads. On the surface, being a fitness instructor and a photographer seem to be really different! However, I’ve learned over time that there are actually a lot of similarities. That must be why I love the two so much! Today I’m diving into NINE ways that being a fitness instructor and being a photographer are actually really similar! Keep on scrolling to learn more, friends!

(PS send me a note if you ever want to take class with me! I would love to have ya! If you’ve never taken class before and have been dying to try, use the code FLY-CAITLIN-K at checkout to get your first class FREE! Just visit www.flywheelsports.com. This code works for all first time riders or pulsers, not just in my class or here in DC! Now… on to the good stuff!

Your mood can set the tone for the entire session or class

  • This one can be such a struggle on some days, but it is absolutely key to remember! As an instructor and a photographer, you are often the one running the show. I know that many of my Flybarre clients come to class to escape the stress of their day, and as a photographer, I truly believe that your experience in front of the camera as a client should be FUN! How awkward would you feel if you showed up to a fitness class and found your instructor in tears? At the same time, you would feel pretty uncomfortable if your photographer yelled or snapped at you during your session! Putting on your positive pants and a smile, no matter what is going on in your life, is always a must. Your tone and your mood will rub off on your clients experience, and I would hate to tarnish anyone’s experience because of what is happening in my life. Compartmentalizing is key! Luckily, I have found that proceeding with business as usual has helped me SO much when I am having an off day. I have never left a session or class in a bad mood and always hope the same for my clients!

Names are key

  • This is arguably the most important thing, and is the one I struggle with the most! I see a lot of faces each day, but it is so important to me that each person knows and understands just how important they are to me! Using names during photo sessions and fitness classes is key to making sure that people feel cared for and also helps to key in specificity. Studies have proven that people respond positively when they are called by name. In a class of 20, this is a really easy and surefire way to make sure someone feels welcomed and cared for… it is also a great way to quickly encourage someone or to quickly fix their form! When you are working with a couple, names are also a great way to ensure you are being specific with your posing and that they feel a genuine connection to you. I do admit that I will get a lot of anxiety about calling names (I am constantly worried that I have the wrong name!!), but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you keep things straight! When in doubt, know that you truly can’t use someone’s name enough.

Your clients are probably just as nervous as you are

  • YES! I still do get nervous before sessions, weddings and classes– it’s just something that comes along with my line of work! It is always so important to remember that your clients (especially new clients), are probably equally, if not more nervous, than you are, whether in class or out on a session! Reading their body language is key. I always try to answer questions before we get started and leave the door open for questions during our session or class and afterwards. Ensuring that people feel comfortable with where things are going and know what they are walking in to is the best way to calm their nerves.

You have to be specific when it comes to body placement

  • From posing to technique in class, being specific about what your clients’ bodies should be doing is so important! It is my job to keep people safe and working during class, just as it is to make sure that people look good in their photos. The number one way that you can make anyone feel more comfortable with what they are doing is by letting them know where they are going, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. We use many body shapes in Flybarre that clients have never seen before, and it is my job to coach them through these shapes to ensure that they are being safe and are getting the most out of the exercise. At the same time, many of my photography clients can feel a little funny in front of the camera at first. When was the last time someone asked you to snuggle your significant other in front of the camera? I get it–it can feel weird at first! But, by being specific with letting your clients know what their body should be doing, you are so much closer to calming someone’s nerves and uncertainties right away.

    It is literally my job to tell people where to place their hands or how to hold their hips. I tell people almost daily to keep space in their armpits or to squeeze their glutes or engage their abs, and I never in a million years thought that this would be part of doing my job well! Being specific about body placement is a surefire way to help make someone feel comfortable and confident with what they are doing, whether they are in front of the camera or on a mat!

Speaking in the positive is so important

  • This walks down a similar path as the above point! Form and posing adjustments are just something that are part of my job! When you are adjusting someone’s form during class or posing during a session, it is so important that you speak in the positive. A quick fitness example for you… in this example, we are on all fours in quadruped. My imaginary client has their knees a little too far forward towards their chest. I will correct them by saying: “slide your knees back to align with your hips” instead of speaking in a way that would indicate that they did something wrong. By speaking in the positive and offering clients a constructive place to go, you are so much closer to helping them into the proper position while keeping them excited about the work they are doing. By positively correcting your client, they will first feel better about the work they are doing and second will have the resources to get their body where they need to be. Always be specific & take the time to ensure they understand what you are saying. I never want a client to feel like they have done something wrong or need to apologize for something. Positive verbiage is key!

Just keep moving if you mess up

  • It’s inevitable… you will make mistakes or errors from time to time. I’ll admit it, I talk over and over my words a lot. When you do mess up or say something incorrectly, you just have to keep moving! As a photographer, sometimes I will get someone into a pose that may not be the most flattering for their body. Instead of saying “NO this isn’t working” and making the client feel uncomfortable (and like they did something wrong… when it was really ME that chose a position that didn’t work for them!), I’ll just gently coach them into a new pose. Chances are, your client will move right along with you! When I stumble over words in class or mis-cue a body side, you just have to quickly offer the correction and move on to the next thing. Apologizing takes time and also draws attention to the error. Again, chances are, your clients won’t even notice. Just try to avoid making it a habit!

There is more prep work than than meets the eye

  • I would say that a little less than 40% of my job as a photographer and an instructor happen in the public eye (AKA when I am interacting with clients). That means that more than 60% of my jobs typically happen outside of what people see! (I would say that, as a photographer, my split is more like 20% & 80%!) As an instructor, I spend a lot of time looking into new music, learning new exercises, furthering my education, working on my own fitness, planning class, arriving to class early to interact with clients & to make sure the room is good to go and even spend some time marketing on social media. As a photographer, I spend time behind the scenes answering emails, learning more about the industry and my craft, planning timelines, editing, marketing, planning social and blog content, meeting with current and potential clients… you get the point! There is a lot to both jobs that don’t necessarily meet the eye! Just the other day, someone said that they thought I was so lucky to only work for two or three hours a day… if only that were true! Luckily, I do love the prep and post work that comes along with both job titles!

During a session or class, you will have a million and one things running through your head

  • This is a point that only instructors or photographers may understand… but during class or a session, you will have a million and one random thoughts running through your head. During a class, you will be thinking about teaching the current exercise, client form & what needs to be corrected, exercises that are a few changes away, the beat of the music, counting down and transitions, who is who, the temperature of the room, the volume of the music… honestly I could go on and on! During a session, you are thinking about camera settings and posing and light and location and how to get your clients to feel comfortable in front of the camera and so many other things! Your mind can be distracting if you let it, but it is so important to stay focused and to use these thoughts as a tool to help improve the quality of your class or session. It’s also really important to be able to separate distracting thoughts from productive thoughts! Be selective with what you choose to focus on and even more selective with what you choose to share with your audience.

You have to be able to think on your feet

  • Things can change really fast in class and out on a shoot! You have to be okay with going with the flow and troubleshooting when necessary. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to change photo plans because of funky light, crowded spots or late timelines and how many times I have had to change class plans for injuries or client requests! Thinking on your feet and making changes in the moment is so important and does take a while to get used to. I used to panic at the thought of something not going as planned in class or on a session, but after a while, I realized that things happen! It makes things so much harder if you panic and let these quick changes stress you out. Just roll with it and know that in the end, all you can do is your best!

So… there you have it! A behind the scenes look at both of my jobs. I hope this was fun and a gave you a little better understanding of what I actually do from day to day!

 To follow along with more of my Fly-ventures, find me on Instagram at @caitybarreDC !  To follow along with more of my Fly-ventures, find me on Instagram at @caitybarreDC !

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