The View from the Center of the Circle - Becoming an Instructor

Melissa is mommy to Mia and David and the newest members of our fabulous instructor team. She began taking classes with us in 2014 and became a certified Stroller Strides, Fit4Baby, and Stroller Barre instructor in 2016.


I have been working out with Fit4Mom Severn since my daughter Mia was 6 weeks old — she is now two and a half. I can remember that day so clearly. It was a beautiful spring day and I was deep into new motherhood, which included little sleep, cabin fever, and getting to know my new postpartum body. I learned about this mom’s group that workout around the corner from my house from a nurse friend of mine and decided that I had had enough of staring at my four walls. It was time to get out of the house, get my blood pumping again, and make some mom friends. I struggled through that workout. I huffed and puffed behind my stroller as I tried to keep up with the super fit moms who made this challenging workout look easy. But by the end of class I was hooked. I’d drank the Stroller Strides Kool-Aid. This is how I wanted to spend my mornings, and these were the women I wanted to surround myself with. Positive. Encouraging. Strong. Moms.

Before Fit4Mom came into my life I would've never called myself much of an athlete, in the traditional sense of the word. I grew up in the dance studio. And even into my adulthood, any group fitness class I had taken had some type of a dance foundation. It’s what I loved. It’s all I knew. But here I am, two and a half years later, transformed from the girl who could barely jog a quarter mile without taking a puff from my inhaler, to a certified Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, and Fit4Baby instructor! An athlete. And boy have I learned a few things along the way.

The view is VERY different from the center of the circle. As a member, I could perform the warm-up and cool-down to perfection while simultaneously tending to my kids, carrying on a conversation with my neighbor and checking my phone. But now, with all eyes on me, I could barely remember my own name! In my first co-teaching class, the nerves were so strong that I found myself stumped as to when we were supposed to plank — and what is it we do after downward dog? My fellow instructors made it look so effortless, but how? I had to learn how to teach. Sure I could preform the exercises with ease, but I had to learn how to give directions, modifications, cue what to do next, correct form, and do all of this while singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. Fitness instructing is a skill that has to be honed; and mastery of that skill only comes with practice. Over, and over, and over again.

During the process of becoming certified and beginning the co-teaching phase of my training, it quickly became clear that none of the things we do happens by accident. I learned that preparation is everything. I have heard so many times how nice it must be to “get paid to workout” or how awesome it is that I “only work for one hour a day”. Well, I say that is a load of malarky! There is an incredible amount of work that goes into planning every workout, playgroup, mom’s night, and special event; and I am just a small piece of the Fit4Mom Severn puzzle. The challenge to make each workout different and fun is one that I enjoy, but it doesn't come without a fair share of prep work. And just throwing together a workout at random does a disservice to you as a member. So, the night before I am to teach, I sit down with my trusty pink notebook and write out my workout from start to finish. It is the best way for me to retain information and ideas, because mom brain is real and it is no joke!

Finally, the biggest and most important lesson I have learned is to check my ego at the door (or in our case, the parking lot). Stroller Strides workouts may have come more easily to me as a member, but those “skills” do not always translate when you have 15+ strollers facing you. And frankly, it doesn’t matter how many burpees I can do in a minute. What matters to me is YOU! And as a newly minted instructor, I feel a sense of responsibility to be the best leader and motivator that I can be. To be kind. To be a friend. I have been in your shoes. I know what it feels like to seek a little social interaction along with a good endorphin boosting workout. So it is my personal pledge to give you just that. To give back to you, my tribe, in that same special way that made me fall in love with Fit4Mom Severn on my first day of class in 2014 — by being a positive, encouraging, strong mom.

photo credit - Megan Kluge Photogrpahy