Fitness Instructor Flubs

Hi friends! Thank you so much for the fantastic Camelbak cleaning ideas. I rinsed it with a little vinegar and water, whipped the tube around in a circle to get the water out and it’s hanging to dry. It’s hoping it stays funk-free. I’m also happy to hear you liked the recipe round-up! As much as I’d love to make everything on the list, even though it would take me a month, I’m pretty stoked to make the few desserts I mentioned here.

Last night was amaaaaazing. We have 3 basketball tickets, and since Kyle was working and the Pilot was flying, it was a girls’ Wildcat night.


(Meg= the classiest Wildcat ever)

Cats rocked it out, we sang all of the cheers and yelled -the U of A band and student section are probably my favorite part, they crack me up- and I was horrified when a little old man went out onto the court during a media timeout. He threw down his cane, started taking off his shirt (to reveal another layer of U of A clothing underneath), and everyone was cheering. I had visions of the cops coming down to arrest him, but then realized he was part of the “show.” He lead the entire stadium through spelling out “Arizona” and chanting “U of A” in our sections. Legendary. It was an over 80 pt game, so everyone in the stadium got free tacos.Β 

When I got home, I had some of the amazing pictures from Sunday night’s Zumbathon in my inbox from Lisa.

My favorite one:


So tough πŸ˜‰ One of my huge goals, way down the line, is to become a Zumba Jammer or Education Specialist. I’ve been fortunate to teach a variety of classes, but Zumba will always be my favorite (ok, World Beat is tied but not offered everywhere).


Since I usually share tips for things, I thought it would be kinda fun to share some of my fitness instructor fails and mistakes I’ve made since I started teaching. I figured maybe fellow or newbie fitness instructors can learn from my mistakes….

Some of my fitness instructor flubs:

-Not knowing the music. When I first started teaching Zumba, I figured “I know the song well enough, I’ll be fine” only to discover some crazy interlude and making up something on the spot. I’m still guilty of choreographing in my car, but since I always listen to Zumba songs while driving, I know the songs really well. This way, if I forget a move or find out that a certain move won’t work for a certain class, it’s easier for me to come up with something else since I know the music.

-Not setting up a playlist. When I taught on base, after each song, I would go to the stereo and find a new song. In the meantime, heart rates were dropping and participants had to wait for me. Not ok. Now I have a playlist ready to go for every class so that no time is waster fiddling with music.Β 

-Saying the SAME THINGS over and over. When I taught step, I would say “great job” ALLLLLLLLL the time. “Great job, A-step, great, over the bench, ok, grapevine.” It’s important to switch up your feedback Β and alternate what you’re saying. Since I have to teach a huge variety of classes now, it makes it much easier to say difference things during each class.Β 

-On the same note, making the same jokes. In life, and now in fitness classes, I like to follow the rule of two: something is funny two times. Anything after that, it’s old.Β 

-Letting personal life affect performance. There have been times when something has happened before class and I’ve arrived at the studio with a black cloud over my head, not really wanting to teach. Teaching during deployments was challenging for me because I always felt distracted, and there were also the times when I’ve read a hateful comment right before teaching, or found out something happened in the family. The thing is: the class doesn’t care what’s going on in your life, they’re there to workout. Being an instructor has helped me to block out certain things and fake it til I make it, even if I’m not feeling 100%.

-Wearing the wrong attire. Think about a llllll the moves you’ll be instructing and make sure the goodies are covered up. I had planned an entire inner thigh sequence and immediately had to change things when I thought about the shorts I was wearing.

Crimes I have yet to commit:

-Singing into the mic. It’s fitness, not karaoke.

-Not having a hair tie when you need it. There are at least 5 in my gym bag for emergency situations.


Fellow fitness instructors, what are some of the fails you’ve made?Β 

Any instructor or trainer pet peeves to share??


It’s cookstavaganza time and Michele and Levi are coming over to hang out.

Hope you have a happy Tuesday!



New on the Fashion page:Β Life-changing skincare product


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  1. Vanessa on November 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Such a great post! I’m getting serious about getting my ACE certification within the next year, so stuff like this really helps me learn what NOT to do. πŸ˜‰ Wish I was closer so I could take one of your Zumba classes!

  2. Carrie on November 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    My biggest fitness instructor pet peeve is when they do the moves half-ass. You’re supposed to motivate me to work harder, not the other way around. If you’re punching like a limp noodle, chances are, I won’t punch as hard as I could and should.

  3. Lori Barton Looney on November 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    One of my pet peeves is when an instructor has the music turned up so loud you can’t hear any of the cues, comments or jokes (maybe the last one is a good thing!).

  4. natalie @ will jog for food on November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    All instructors have some mess ups with music! haha

    I’m sure you are an amazing instructor πŸ™‚ If I lived near you, I would definitely go to one of your classes.

  5. Alyssa on November 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I took a Zumba class for a short time, really enjoyed the routines and had a blast but could not stand the instructor. She had favorites in the class and made it known. Anyone that was not her favorite basically was ignored or yelled at, so I stopped going. Also when an instructor is late or no-show. Like this morning I went to a gym nearby to check it out the classes and there was no instructor.

    • Pam on November 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      OMG, that’s awful to go to class and the instructor wasn’t there. He or she would be in my office first chance with a coach notice. I teach a lot of classes and have 19 instructors to deal with on a weekly basis. I wouldn’t have anyone still on my staff that didn’t care enough about 20-30 waiting on them to teach to keep them on. Sorry, about that.

  6. Hillary on November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’m not a fitness instructor, but I am a teacher, and so, so many of those things still ring true!

  7. Erin on November 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I’m so guilty of doing a move in my Zumba class a little bit too early. I either just go with the move and try to make it work or say “Whoops that was 100% wrong” and then go right into what I had choreographed in the first place! One thing I’m working on is getting all my songs to be the same volume! Some of them are quieter than the rest so I have to run to the stereo, turn it up then run back to turn it down when the songs over. Annoying!

  8. Jen on November 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    There’s one instructor at my gym who always says stuff about how “it’s your workout, you’re not cheating anyone but yourself” throughout the class. It’s hard to listen to for an hour, especially when you’re busting your tail already! I avoid her classes now.

    I also hate it when instructors spend the entire class at the front of the room for classes where form is really important (body pump, I’m looking at you). I much prefer it when the instructor walks around the room and checks to make sure we’re doing the moves right. I had one amazing instructor who spoiled me for all the others πŸ™‚

    But all that said, its hard to criticize the instructors too much because I know that I definitely could not do any better and I admire them for being able to teach, talk, and workout simultaneously!

    • Emily on November 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      I would HATE having to hear that she thinks I’m ‘cheating myself’ throughout the whole class! Awful!

    • LJ on November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      I have the exact same complaint about one of my BodyPump instructors. She never leaves the front of the class, and is always looking at herself in the mirror, checking her make up. Ugh. πŸ™

      If I was a newbie, I’d totally be worried about not having proper form, etc because the instructor doesn’t notice. Thank goodness that most instructors are really good!

  9. Emily on November 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    The things that have made me stop going to certain instructors’ classes in the past are obvious lack of preparation, like not having thought about their playlist or progression through the class, picking favorites as someone mentioned above, or singling people out if they’re modifying. This happened to me in a spin class once, when my lower back was super tender and I couldn’t do kickbacks, so I just stood up– the teacher yelled out that I had to get into the kickback or get out of her class, so I left. Also, ending way early. All of these things happen at the gym I go to where most of the attendees are students who get their membership free. I guess the bar is kind of lowered because it’s not like people are paying for their memberships, so I guess they feel like we have to have low expectations!

  10. Liana Ryan on November 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    As an instructor, I can totally relate. Especially when you’re learning, any little distraction can totally ruin the class. One of my pet peeves as an instructor is when “new to class” student sets up camp right in front and is always two beats off of the choreography. OMG, it used to take all I had to block it out of my mind to stay on track. I’ve gotten better now, but it can still be a distraction for some of the others in class.

  11. Stephanie on November 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I once took a Body Flow class and the instructor did nothing but show off her own yoga moves (that had nothing to do with that class and were not required) and when she was not showing off, she talked about her personal life.

    There is this one lady at the club who always wants to turn the lights off in the back and instructors then just turn it off. She’s in the front where it’s still light, but if you’re in the back you have to do Zumba in the dark??? So weird.

  12. Anne on November 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I am a fitness class taker NOT instructor and have definately thought before about how hard it must be to do what really great instructors do: be just as positive, energized and supportive as always when something negative inevitably happens outside of class. Mad respect!

  13. Jessie on November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Love this! I’m not a fitness instructor, but as a high school teacher, many of the things you mentioned are true for my career as well! Making sure I have everything set up (lab equipment, video aids, handouts…) before class is a BIG one! Too much down time in a high school classroom and you’ll get a riot! Or, at the very least, a VERY tough time getting kids back on track πŸ™‚

    The “fake it til you make it” thing is really hard at times! Some of my students think I’m a robot that goes into the closet each night to re-charge πŸ™‚ I end up explaining “I’m a human, I have off days, too”, but it can’t really happen often (ever?).

  14. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on November 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve shown up to a class and then realized my iPod was still at home. #fail. Luckily I’m paranoid and keep extra playlists on my phone and an old MP3 player in my bag.

    There have been 3 instances (over about 3000+ classes) that I left the room during a class to go pee. Always during small classes, if it had been a big class I would have (and often have) sucked it up and taught the rest of the class, but when there were 8 people in class in the dead heat of summer I figured I would take advantage of the situation.

    I once hit myself in the face so hard during a step class that I drew blood and had to stop class while I tended to my wound.

  15. Lena on November 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    This is great, thank you!!! I’m taking the Zumba instructor licensing in three weeks (so. excited.), so I’m bookmarking this page for the future.
    Can we maybe discuss things that favorite instructors do in a future post? Or was it discussed in a previous post that I missed? I can avoid the pet peeves (erm, I think), but it would be helpful to hear about things that people like to see in their classes- I know what I like, but I know everyone has different preferences.

  16. Rebecca on November 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I teach high school and what you mention about being prepared has got to be the most important, possibly followed by not letting your personal life get in the way of your teaching. In the beginning I also used to figure I could wing lesson plans, but no, not so! And sometimes I’m in a horrible mood, but once I start teaching, I usually feel a lot better (though sometimes the students make it worse, ha)!

    And I do also have to pay attention to what I’m wearing…can’t wear low-cut shirts when you have to bend over a desk to take attendance!

  17. Robin on November 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I agree that having a whole playlist ready is super important!!

    My biggest peeve for Zumba is when new songs are not introduced frequently enough. It has to be kept fresh to be motivating & fun in my opinion.

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      i totally agree. i like to have at least one new song every week and rotate with older songs, or i get really sick of my playlist

  18. JBecca on November 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Aww, it sounds like you bring such great energy and a positive attitude to your classes! That’s my favorite type of instructor–the ones who are upbeat and relatable.

    My pet peeves as a class taker are not being able to hear cues because the music’s too loud or the instructor’s not clear, and instructors who take the drill sergeant approach. I took a Body Pump class where the male instructor would suddenly bust out with, “Nobody quits! Nobody!” in a really aggressive voice. I’m more of a push your limit, but honor your body kind of girl. The angry coach thing does not work for me!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      oh god, that would scare me! haha

  19. Julianna @ Julianna Bananna on November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    i hate it when instructors make the same jokes and when they sing along (if they have a great singing voice and it’s only for a line or two, it’s fine. but most of the time they don’t have good singing voices haha).

  20. Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction on November 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Great post! I wish I lived near you so that I could take one of your classes! I recently started taking Zumba, and so far I love it! The instructor is great and she is an AMAZING dancer. Seriously I aspire to dance as well as she does one day. My pet peeve is that she does not dictate all that much at all…she is very vocal with pumping us up, but does not say the moves etc out loud. I think that may be a Zumba thing though? As a newbie to Zumba and dancing, it would be helpful for me just because when I watch I am always a few steps behind. Did you pick up Zumba right away when you first started? How long did it take you?

    Do some Zumba songs have prechoreographed dances?

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      yeah the zumba standard is to use visual cueing instead of vocal cueing.
      it took me a while to pick it up- the first time i had NO idea what i was doing. the more you go, the easier it gets
      and yes, if you’re in the zumba instructor network, you get dvds with choreography. you can use it or make your own

  21. Jessica @ Fit Talker on November 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I teach spinning but also take classes as a member.

    Frustrations as a member: Instructors with quiet voices who don’t use a mic, instructors who don’t watch and help with form, spin instructors who don’t ride with the class, for classes tied to the music, instructors who don’t have a plan

    Slip ups as an instructor: Two weeks ago I lost both my mic receiver and my ipod so I had to yell and use a CD. The week after I borrowed an ipod and had no clue what i was doing so each song was on repeat. Overzealously drinking my water and either a) spilling it everywhere or b) choking.


  22. Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit on November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Love these tips! πŸ˜€ Some of my fitness instructor pet peeves are when the fitness instructor doesn’t change up the routine from week-to-week. I was going to this Bootcamp class at my gym for a while and really loved it at first. But, as the weeks went by, the routine never changed. It got old and boring, so I stopped going. It was a real bummer because I liked the bootcamp-style class. Another peeve of mine is when the instructor doesn’t change up their music from week-to-week. I kid you not that there’s this spin class I’ve been attending regularly for about the past year-and-a-half and during this entire time the instructor has not changed up the music! If it weren’t for the day and time of the class really working for me, I would have been long gone. I could go on with more, but I’ve written a paragraph already, so I’ll show some self-restraint. πŸ˜‰ Love the topic!

  23. Vicki on November 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I am currently having issues with my Zumba instructor. We got a new one a few months back, and I tried liking her, but I just can’t. Maybe it’s her personality or something, but I find everything she says incredibly lame. Also I feel like the dances are waaaaay to easy. I’m not an expert or anything, but it shouldn’t be a good thing when you’re barely breaking a sweat during the class. I’ve tried giving her a chance, but I think that I might have to stop going to this class at my gym.

    I actually really liked the instructor previous to the one I have now. She kept the class energy high and kept everyone engaged, and made it a challenging class while not making it too hard for newbies.

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      you might just have to find a different instructor. i’ve taken some laaaaame zumba classes in my life- it takes a little while to find the gems

  24. Liz @ Southern Charm on November 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    THANK YOU for this post! I actually started teaching last night and ran into some issues. None of the above listed, but now I can be prepared πŸ™‚ Thanks!!

  25. Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness on November 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    As an instructor I’ve definitely had my fair share of flubs, including making up choreography on the spot, not knowing when the music ends, and shoes coming untied (I always double knot now). My personal pet peeve though is instructors singing along to the music or putting the lyrics into their coaching…the worst! I will never be one to do that πŸ˜‰

  26. Melissa on November 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I’d love to try Zumba, but they don’t offer it near me. I’ve looked on YouTube, but the videos I found seem kind of lame. Do you know of any YouTube videos that are a challenging, full length Zumba class? Thanks!

  27. Alexis on November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I completely agree with the person who said their pet peeve is when the music is too loud! If I can’t hear the instructor over the music, I get so frustrated and am far less motivated. It especially frustrates me in spinning because often you can’t just look at them to see what their cue was (like in body pump, even if you can’t hear, you can tell by observing), and I’ll turn up my resistance when I’m supposed to decrease it or vice versa, or just not change it because I’m not sure what she said. I never feel like I got a good workout after her classes.

    I also hate when they say “2 more!” and then it’s really 5 more. But then again, I know that that’s one of the fitness instructor tricks haha. “only 1 more minute!”… 3 minutes later….:)

  28. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on November 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    As a fitness goer I’ve had to learn to dress appropriate for the workout I’m doing. Stretching classes in tiny shorts is not a good idea! haha

  29. Amanda on November 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I took a pretty horrible spin class one morning (at 5:45am). The instructor showed up 10 minutes late, which was especially frustrating because I have to leave early in order to make it to work on time. She had a full face of makeup and was carrying a Dunkin Donuts coffee … so she obviously could have been there on time. There was a ton of feedback on her mic which had us all cringing! Not going to her class again!!

    Other peeves are – the same playlist being used over and over, too much commentary (have had instructors just talk the whole time), and taking too long with transitions since it feels like my time is being wasted.

  30. Brittany on November 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Something that i like is when the instructor walks/dances around the room during a class. I think that shows that the instructor is having fun as well as making sure that you are having a good time. Do you tend to stand in the front of the class or do you walk around? My moms friend Sarah is a fitness instructor and she is the best instructor that I have yet to take a class from. She has more energy then you can imagine. I love it when she walks around or I look over and find her dancing next to me!

  31. Sarah on November 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    AH! Someone said they had an instructor who couldn’t keep count! I have a weight lifting class instructor like that!! It will be 9 more……. (then six reps later) 8,7,6,5,4! Gah! Shes quirky though and I love that she is human with a personality. Someone who isn’t a machine up there making everyone feel inferior. I like instructors who I feel like would make a good friend.

  32. Nay on November 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I have a Body Pump instructor that likes to incorporate the lyrics in her teaching. That gets old pretty quick.

    But even more bothersome is that this same instructor works out hardcore the entire time so when she speaks through the mic (that is way to close to her lips) she is very winded and breathy. So much so that it’s like a deep inhale every third word. It sounds a little too…sexy. Ha!

  33. Averie @ Averie Cooks on November 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Great list of do’s and don’s and love the personal stories!

    Not knowing the music or thinking I downloaded one version, i.e. 3 mins but really downloaded like the 8min version. Oops!

  34. Madi on November 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Ahhhh thank you SO much for this! I was just freaking out about a SERIOUS flub the other day while teaching TurboKick. I thought I knew the material, so I didn’t look it over. Well, as you can imagine, I was totally lost in a couple parts! Talk about embarrassing, plus I felt awful not giving my all to my girls. Now I know better for next time, that’s for sure. Also what are your favorite bottoms to wear while teaching zumba? That’s still were I struggle in the wardrobe department!

  35. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food on November 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I am guilty of finding a phrase and sticking with it…then I’ll find another one and stick with that! When I had a Jazzercise evaluation a couple of years ago, my monitor told me that I said, “Great job” a lot…and when I was told about it, I realized that I said it ALL the time and it was so annoying! In addition to that…I think I’ve committed all of the flubs above! I think being a fitness instructor is a career in which there is always room for improvement and ways to constantly make yourself better!

    P.S. Did that last sentence even make sense? Haha!

  36. Bek @ Crave on November 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Haha I am so guilty of making the same jokes πŸ˜‰ I better start mixing it up. Some fails for me is my microphone falling out of my belt! Or forgetting there’s a partner sequence and not setting a second step up on stage to demonstrate 😐 never happened again mind you!

  37. Sarah on November 21, 2012 at 4:09 am

    I’m an EFL teacher, our flubs are similar! One I’d never thought of I the skirt length, when you reach up to write on the board… Suddenly the students are looking attentive!! Oops! The instructors here are usually great, I enjoy the occasional sing along! I’m usually singing in my head anyway!

  38. Katie on November 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Just this morning,I accidentally skipped a song in my Spin class, and I got off. I couldn’t figure out why I was at the cool-down, but time-wise we still had 5 minutes left. Luckily, I was able to put another hill in to fill out the rest of the time. When I was new, that would have thrown me, but now I feel like I can handle a few flubs.

    When I’m teaching yoga, I mirror students when I’m at the front of the class, but then I walk around and sometimes get confused about what side we’re on. My students are great, though, and always let me know when I’ve messed it up! πŸ™‚

  39. Meredith on November 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Unrelated to flubs, just wanted you to know that the old man with the cane at the basketball game is the UU-Ahh Man! He’s been doing that getup for like 20 years or something and is my absolute FAVORITE!! πŸ™‚

  40. Vanessa on November 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Ahhh i hate when spin instructors don’t ride the bike! How else am i supposed to pump myself up and push myself as hard as you, if you’re not setting the way! And also, when they don’t play the music loud enough…..i wanna get in the zone, turn that music up!

  41. Sarah on November 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I hate when instructors come in and say….”oh, it’s 8:00 on Saturday, I’ll take it easy on you” or “with my regular class, I do XXX, but you guys can do this…” It drives me crazy!! I didn’t get up early on a Saturday morning for you to take it easy on me…I hate it, and the instructor that says this is one of my all time favorite instructors, so it really bums me out

    • Fitnessista on November 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      i had a spin instructor say that once for a 530am class- i was like, whaaaaat?!?

    • Cassie on November 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

      I totally do the opposite! I often sub a Friday night or early Saturday morning class, and I always say “clearly, you guys are hardcore, so I added an extra section!” Taking it easy on people that obviously want to work harder makes no sense πŸ™

  42. Jessica on February 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I love your little cross body purse. May I ask where you got it from? I’m looking for a small cross body bag myself.


    • Fitnessista on February 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      thank you! it’s marc by marc jacobs, karlie in cinnamon stick

  43. Renee on July 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I’m going to be getting my group fitness instructor through ACE within the next couple months (goal of mine!), so hearing this type of advice is very helpful. I bet your Zumba classes are a ton of fun! πŸ™‚

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