Spin bikes 2013

Power Trip

I had a dream recently that I went to a gym (Remember gyms? Sigh.) with a few friends (Remember going places with friends? Sigh.) so we could take a class together. I was adamant that my friends didn’t tell the instructor that I used to teach classes a long time ago, because I knew what would happen.

The dream made me laugh. I taught group fitness classes (spinning, along with low impact aerobics and strength training) for almost ten years but it’s been seven years since I “retired.” (The picture above was taken right before my final class.)

I don’t even really think about teaching anymore so it was strange that it figured into my dream so prominently. The other funny thing about it was that deep in the recesses of my brain still lives that “what would happen if the instructor knew I had also been an instructor” piece.

I can’t say that every single instructor on earth is like this, but every instructor that I have known is like this: if I knew that another group fitness instructor was stopping in to try my class—because they were in my town on vacation or they were visiting from another club or they were even another instructor at the same club*—I would make the class as difficult as possible to try and make them struggle. Even if it sounds mean, power tripping at the expense of another instructor wasn’t intended to be mean-spirited as much as it was just an act of claiming one’s own domain.

“That doesn’t sound like Melisa at all,” you might be thinking. You’d be right!

I’m not sure if there’s ever been one other thing in my life (job, activity, skill, whatever) when I was intentionally aggressive just for the fun of acting like the Alpha in that situation. I think it was the microphone.

Teaching group fitness classes is fun. Teaching group fitness classes with a microphone headset is amazing. Much like Beyoncé (“Oh, she’s comparing herself to Beyoncé now??” Yes, I am.) brings out her Sasha Fierce alter ego when she takes the stage, I used to put on the microphone and became a MUCH MORE loud (yes, really), bossy (I know, seems impossible, but believe it), competitive, aggressive version of myself. In the real world outside the studio and without a microphone on my person, I would never be as in your face and over-the-top but when I had it, there was no stopping me.

I know the power of leading a fitness class with a microphone for one glorious hour. Other than the people, my faithful class crew, it’s really the only thing I miss about teaching. So when I woke up laughing the other day, I was completely relieved that I was in bed rather than struggling for air and whining about the difficulty of that class, because I know. I hope that my next group fitness-related dream has me teaching, because I’d much rather be on that side.

*There were exceptions, of course. My friend and fitness mentor Diane used to attend my classes now and then and when she was in the room I simply wanted to do a good job. When I attended her classes I never got the impression that she was making it difficult for me specifically: her classes were always challenging, for everyone!


  • Cheryl

    I can definitely see you harnessing the control like that. I think it’s good to have some domain in your life that makes you feel that way!

  • Diane wiley

    I loved taking your classes and never felt it was a “throw down” by either of us to each other…. but anyone else I wanted to let them know who was in charge; ME!!

  • Karen Meg

    Melisa I remember that you taught classes and was so inspired! I came in so late in the game, it became a bucket list thing and I absolutely loved and am missing it SO HARD!! I agree there is power in that mic-for me it’s also power to perform to get the dance-hip hop party on. Funny you mention being a participant on this side now-really different and I can’t see you as alpha at all! As my program is so niche I tend to try to team teach if I can (the program is also backwards otherwise -total brain trick😆).

  • @babysteph

    I love this. I’m always surprised at the weird things I find myself asserting my alpha-ness. And how I wish I could be in one of your classes sometime. I will love you extra if you go super easy because I’m in the class lolol.

  • San

    That is so awesome that you taught spin classes (and that you still dream about it many years later). I miss going to spin classes at the gym… they used to be fun. Now I ride at home via screen.

    • MelisaLW

      I miss going to the gym too. My daily dance workouts (via YouTube) are really fun but I miss the group dynamic of my boxing classes so much!