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Hi gang! Long time since I’ve posted, mostly because things are going really great. Work continues to be fun, stimulating, challenging and fulfilling. I love working in fitness, and particularly the gift of working in a portion of the field where I don’t feel pressured to sell people unrealistic expectations to make a living.

But today’s post has a purpose, and I’m going to get right to it. Lately I’ve caught myself – and a friend or two has caught me saying – “I’m a terrible Zumba instructor.”

And then I justify it! “No, really,” I say, “this whole dancing thing just doesn’t come naturally to me. You should see other Zumba instructors! I just don’t have that skill at dance, or that energy.”

Yesterday I was listening to the Fitness Behavior podcast, and the subject was fixed mentality versus growth mentality. In many ways, I am all about growth mentality – heck, I’ve practically built a career on it! The way of thinking that says, “I might not be perfect at this, but I believe I can develop new skills and get better at it.”

Fixed mentality, however, is the thinking that goes, “I’m good at this,” or conversely, “I’m bad at this.” The researcher on the podcast has found that people who have fixed mentality are far more likely to get discouraged and not succeed at learning a new skill. There is a lot of shame attached, too, as in, “I am never going to get the hang of rock climbing. I’m just no good at it. I suck.” Or, “I ate a doughnut today, and I’ll never get healthy, so forget it, I’ll just eat another 4 doughnuts.”

I have such a fixed mentality about Zumba, but the truth is, I *have* gotten better at it since I went to training in July. And I bet that if I give myself some room to grow, and set aside a little time to practice outside of work, it is a skill I can continue to develop. There are all kinds of ways I can take small steps to improve:

*I can watch my Zumba Basic Steps DVD once a week and practice as I watch.
* I can take Zumba classes once a week, or even take salsa lessons to build confidence.
* I can set class-focused objectives. If I focus on the class participants having fun and enjoying the music and movement, I won’t feel so self-conscious about my own ability. I’ll celebrate those in the class who dance better than me, rather than secretly wish they wouldn’t come!
*I can dance more, on my own, just for fun. Then I’ll be bring a natural sense of fun to the format, rather than trying to force it.
*I can get a Wii and do Zumba with that.

Really, endless possibilities. Also, just writing this list makes me see how I’ve been way too hard on myself. I’m teaching 3 or 4 classes a day at work in different formats, on top of all the other duties in my 40-hour week. It’s a lot to juggle, and when I get home, I’m pretty exhausted.

It’s been quite a challenge to find time to improve my skills now that I’m immersed in the field. Honestly, I’ve just been trying to keep up every day! On weekends, I am more likely to want to take a bike ride or go for a walk than do *anything* related to work.

So knowing those challenges helps me to be a little kinder to myself, but it doesn’t mean I have to give up on getting better at what I do. It just means I need to look at those challenges objectively and ask myself what reasonable goals I can set within the context of my life as it exists right now. And I can practice what I preach by choosing the activity I find fun and enjoyable as I strive to meet new goals.

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