Day 5/6—Work Your Butt Off!
Nothing and I mean nothing in my life has ever been easy for me. Everything I have, everything I have achieved, every success I have tasted has been due to gritting my teeth, rolling up my sleeves and digging into do the dirty work. Without hesitation, without thinking something wasn’t possible I know that with hard work anything and everything is possible.
When I decided I wanted to be a fitness instructor I didn’t know anyone in the industry. I knew I wanted to be a fitness instructor and that was enough. I was just going to have to make it happen. I took my first fitness certification course with Mad Dogg in Spinning in July 2012. I was mesmerized by the podium and fantasized about being up there. Shortly after my Spinning training, I had my first cycling audition in West Hollywood at Cycle House. While I know I didn’t tank the audition, I also know I didn’t crush it because I didn’t get the job. But not getting the job didn’t really seem to bother me because the feeling I got while on the instructor bike—the exhilaration, the sweat, the power, the ability to inspire, had me hooked like a drug. I didn’t feel defeated by not getting the Cycle House job but couldn’t wait to get back up on that instructor bike and do it again.
My second audition was for LA Fitness [Hey, we all gotta start somewhere]. I left my middle school teaching job early to drive ALL the way across town to audition for a shot to snag some indoor cycling classes. I showed up and walked into the cycling room to see bikes I have never seen before or ridden on. These were Keiser bikes [barf]. Slight panic set in. Hoping Monica, the woman auditioning me would be compassionate to my cause, I let her know that this was my first time riding a Keiser bike. The audition was quick, not even a full song in total length. Monica gave me some pointers about my RPM’s then glanced down at my resume and paused. She looked up and matter-of-factly stated, “Oh, you teach yoga.”
“Oh no, no. I don’t teach yoga. I take yoga” I divulged.
“Well, could you teach yoga?” Monica inquired.
Without hesitation, I mustered my confidence and said, “I mean, I’m a teacher, I guess I can teach anything…?”
Right then and there without ever having actually taught yoga, Monica had me take her through a flow. Two minutes later I was hired to teach 1 cycling class and 2 yoga classes a week for $15 a class.
I was so ecstatic a gym hired me and that I had THREE CLASSES too! I didn’t stop to think that there was anything wrong with my pay rate—I was now officially a fitness instructor!
My tenure at LA Fitness was transformative. I really honed my craft, found my voice, and met some amazing people that are still dear friends in my life. As my hunger for teaching fitness seemed insatiable, I started auditioning at boutique studios and larger, more reputable gyms. Concurrently, I started teaching at a small studio in Redondo Beach called Studio Pulse and was also on the schedule at Spectrum Athletic Clubs in the South Bay and Redondo Beach. However, as my classes filled at LA Fitness and I eventually earned my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification, I wanted my pay to reflect my certifications and packed classes. Besides, I was making way more than that elsewhere but I was loyal to my membership following and felt indebted to LA Fitness because it was where I started. I held out a while. The timing didn’t feel right. So while living in Hollywood and still teaching middle school English full time, I took every single fitness job I was offered—no matter the distance. At one time I was teaching in Redondo 2x a week, South Bay, Westwood, AND Studio City [and that’s not counting when I subbed classes too!]. Needless to say, I put a ton of miles on my car. However, I knew that in order to get to the top, you’ve got to start at the bottom. Finally, I knew the time came to leave LA Fitness when I met Jessica Rosen, the owner and founder of One Down Dog (affectionately referred to as ODD) in Silverlake. She took my yoga class and hired me on the spot. I was going to be a real yoga instructor in a real studio! I think having someone believe in the work that I was doing gave me the confidence to finally walk away from LA Fitness. Nevertheless LA Fitness refused to give me a pay raise and with One Down Dog, I put in my two weeks notice.
As One Down Dog worked to gain its footing in those early months, it was hard work but never felt like ‘work’. Jessica was starting a new studio. We were building a following, handing out flyers, and hustling to make ODD happen. For whatever reason, it just felt so right. With so many moving parts and the new studio, I still busted my butt to the beach cities multiple times a week to teach indoor cycling. I knew that the more I taught, the more people I was in front of, the better I got. With every class and every playlist I was gearing up to muster the courage to audition for the big guns. The gym of all gyms: Equinox. I knew that when I went to audition for Equinox I wanted to blow it out of the water. I knew I wanted them to want me and that meant I had to be awesome.
Turned out Equinox was getting ready to open Encino and they had a hiring day in Downtown LA. I was invited to attend the audition and told I would hear more about it later in the week. Later in the week came and went and I didn’t hear anything. But my friend who attended the hiring fair did hear back. Fortunately for me since she told me where the audition was being held, I decided to crash it. I thought the worst-case scenario was that I didn’t get to ride and the best case was that I got to audition and show my stuff. I did indeed get to ride and I felt think things went really well. I was confident that I nailed it.
Well I didn’t.
I felt a huge sense of disappointment and wanted to know where I could improve, but that was that. I wasn’t going to be an Equinox instructor.
Then by a stroke of luck about 2 weeks later I landed another Equinox audition via another cycling instructor friend. This time, after the audition I was welcomed to the Equinox Family as a sub.
It has been almost 3 years since I walked out of Equinox South Bay as a sub. I am proud to report I have had various classes at Equinox clubs all over LA and still actively sub all over town when needed. Now I call Equinox Glendale and Downtown my homes with regular classes. The magic of my work and my journey to Equinox are never far from my thoughts. And just because I achieved what I set out to do doesn’t mean I don’t stop striving for excellence. The real work has only just begun because when you’re not working to be the best—someone out there IS working to beat you.
Always, put in hard, hard, hard work and work your butt off!