As a fitness instructor, I put myself out there to encourage others to enjoy their workouts, have fun, and help them reach fitness or health goals. When someone shares a story of how their workouts have helped them not just physically but mentally overcome depression, loss, stress, loneliness, the magnitude of how blessed I am to be able to connect with people and be part of their story, is truly humbling. As we all know, anytime you open yourself to the world, there will be people ready to knock you down.
I see it in the gym when friends who started working out together, stop being supporting of one another when their goals or their progress shifts away from each other. The looks of judgement when someone is new and trying to find their footing starting their fitness journey. When cliques develop over certain workouts or classes, not recognizing one shoe does not fit all.
I would like to say as instructors we set a better example, but sadly I know this is not true. We judge each other on class numbers, social media following, if our format is better, how expensive our shoes and workout clothes are. We question if our body is in good enough shape to even be in front of a class, if we are talking enough or too much, if the critics are right.
Standing in front of groups of people, several times a day, eventually criticism will come. On the days it is constructive, I am grateful. I embrace the opportunity to grow as an instructor, to provide better classes and better experiences for my participants. At times, it is not, and I challenge myself to remember the way my light shines is not for everyone. I might be the sun and they need the moon. When I encounter another instructor not creating the kind of positive, supporting, uplifting class I think is important, I remind myself to stay in my lane. If I stay true to me, I will get to my destination and I will have a tribe with me that is excited about sharing the road together and letting each other shine. Each person deserves to find their lane, their light, without our judgment or harsh comments.
When we are on the end of criticism, we have an opportunity to grow, to let our heart become kinder for when we feel we need to offer guidance, to become stronger by standing up for ourselves when needed. The moon can shine in the dark and so can we.