I met Erin Bulvanoski in college. I became close friends with her only a year ago. I am very upset (and I am very sure she is as well) that we wasted so many years not being close friends.
I started reading her blog, One More Cupcake Please, long before I started my own. I can honestly say I have never met anyone with so much contagious energy and love for teaching fitness. She inspires me to keep moving forward and pursue new fitness goals. With that said, we had a little chat and I wanted to share her wisdom with everyone
Why did you want to become a certified fitness instructor?
At the time I decided to get certified, I was looking for some structure. I had grown up swimming on team after team and graduated college with a huge hole in my life. I had no one telling me what to do and when to do it and I struggled to find a workout routine. I eventually got hooked on Turbo Kick (a version of cardio kickboxing) at my local gym and found I truly looked forward to it all week. I began feeling like instead of wanting someone to tell me what to do, I could become certified and be the one in control. A month later, I got certified and was ready to go!
What do you consider to be your favorite part of being a fitness instructor?
I have many favorite things about being an instructor, the biggest one being, motivating my classes. If I could, I would quit my job and just become a full-time motivator. It gives me so much excitement and joy to see people working out and pushing themselves and even smiling while doing it. To come up afterwards and tell me they love my class or they can’t wait until next week. It is amazing. Selfishly, I love the structure it gives to my working out. I have set days and times that I am always at the gym, and I can tailor the music and workouts to things I want to improve or work on. No matter how tired or lazy I feel, I have no choice but to get there for my class.
Any defining moments with a member of your class that you feel made the job fulfilling?
There are so many little moments that make the job fulfilling but the biggest ones for me are those who try the class for the first time and then enjoy it. Fitness classes can be super intimidating. You think everyone else knows what they are doing, or that you are too uncoordinated or you can’t keep up, but, if you give yourself a chance, you soon realize that you are just as good, if not better, than everyone else around you. When I see someone say it is their first time in class and then the next week I see them again, and then again, I know I am doing my job. For some reason, they built up enough confidence in my classes to keep going and that means everything to me.
What is the hardest part of being a fitness instructor?
The hardest part of being in instructor is getting rid of classes. I grow so attached to my classes, especially the ones I have held onto for a while, because they are all a part of my life. We chat, we laugh, we yell and sweat together and I get so upset when I have to move on. Sometimes its just new schedule conflicts like when I got a new job and started working later, I had to get rid of earlier evening classes and things like that. I feel empty for a while when it is over because I have grown so used to the people and the routine. Like all things though, I do find other ones to teach and new people to meet and life goes on!
I have been in a class before where I probably shouldn’t have signed up (tired, hungover, too sore etc.). What do you do to motivate your class, or an individual in the class that is slacking?
If I can pick out an individual or a group that are not pushing it, I may or may not drag them to the front. I won’t call them out directly, I will act like it is random, but sometimes just moving them to the forefront motivates them. Other times, if the entire class is low on energy, I will stop the music and try to pump them up, may even jokingly threaten to start over That usually works to get them moving! My final tactic is when we take a water break, to explain that you can burn a maximum of 1,000 calories a class if you are pushing it and only 750 if you are dogging it. Most people are there to burn fat so hearing those numbers can be motivating enough!
Favorite class to teach and why?
My favorite class to teach is TurboKick. It was my first love and after 2 years of teaching it, I am pretty comfortable with the format and can easily play around with the music and workouts. It is completely choreographed to music and has some random dance elements to it on top of the sheer power of boxing so the combination can really get you working hard, but also having fun. I also choose all of the music to get everyone going and get so many requests from the students that it keeps it very interactive as well.
You’re also a runner and have run a number of races, including half marathons, can you give an example of a week’s training schedule that incorporates the fitness classes and runs?
Teaching fitness classes on top of running training can be tough. I have hit a spot many times where I have had to scale back a bit on my running in order to prevent injury. The key is to view fitness classes as a great cross-training workout, especially when you incorporate weights. If you are just running and running all the time, your body is building endurance, but not strength. You can also plateau or wear your body down. I run on days I don’t teach to let my body rebuild. Some days, I will double up and do a run in the morning or class in the afternoon but not everyday. The key is to keep your body building because it will all help your running. So right now I teach Mondays and Tuesdays, therefore, I run Wed-Friday and then fit one in on the weekend as well. Sometimes I will add another personal strength training day on Thursday afternoon but other than that it is fitness first, running second.
What do you consider the most difficult part of running?
The hardest part for me is listening to my body. When I workout, I go balls out. I don’t know how to just leisurely run or casually hit the gym. I am always trying to push myself in my workouts and maximize. When I would train for runs in the past, I would run before teaching, then go teach, then do abs, and repeat the following day. I thought I wasn’t allowed rest when I was training. This past half marathon training, however, taught me to slow down. I got terrible shin splints in the beginning of training. Instead of giving up, I began to scale back my running, focus on days where I wasn’t teaching to get my miles in, stretch, and be okay with taking a day off if my body was beyond exhausted. I ran my best time for that race and realized that sometimes over-doing it can just back-fire. It is okay to rest your body because it will reward you for doing so.
What was your favorite finish line and why?
Hands down the best finish line was for my first half marathon: The Diva’s Half Marathon. If you are a woman looking for an awesome race, or if you are running your first half, I highly, highly recommend this race. It is so motivating and fun that you forget you are running 13 miles. In fact, at mile 12, they give each woman a hot pink boa and a tiara to wear for the last mile. Then they have photographers lining the final mile to take pictures of you like the paparazzi, and when you cross, a hot fireman/hottie in a tuxedo hand you a red rose and a glass of champagne…I am not even joking. Then they take more photos of you with your rose. The last mile flew by as I posed for pictures, adjusted my tiara, and awaited my hot man at the finish line. Major score!
Do you have any advice for anyone who is looking to become a certified fitness instructor?
If you are looking to become a fitness instructor..stop hesitating. Don’t tell yourself you aren’t sure if you can do it, if you will get a job somewhere, or if you will like it. The answers are, you can do it, you will find a gym if you keep at it, and it will become the best decision you have ever made. I mean how amazing is it to get paid to workout, free gym memberships, tailor the workout to what you like, listen to songs that pump you up, make new friends, and jazz up your day? It is an unbeatable experience that I wish everyone could have. Find a class you love, look into where to get certified and just go. You will never regret it.
What was the first blog you read that inspired you to create your own?
To be honest, I didn’t set out to write a healthy living blog. I set out to find an outlet for my feelings. At the time I started One More Cupcake Please, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked, I couldn’t find a groove at the gym, and I was starting a new and scary life in the real world. I wrote forever without telling anyone and eventually I sent it to a few friends and it grew from there. I started learning that a blog should have a central topic and I realized that most of my posts were about food and workouts so I chose the healthy living route. I began discovering blogs like Eating Bird Food, Carrots ‘N’ Cake and Peanut Butter Fingers and they all had a unique style that was easy to learn from. I hope to one day make this my living because my passions are truly thriving with each and every post.
Erin’s blog is awesome. The writing is sincere and workouts are seriously sweat-inducing. Once again, her blog is One More Cupcake Please, head on over and check it out!