To Zig Or to Zag in Fitness? The Choice is Yours

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Filed under Fitness Businness

 

 

 

Believe it or not, the above picture was taken 21 years ago, at the end of my Freshers Week at college.  Now to put this strange ritual in context, I did not drink alcohol until I started college (yes really!), So you can imagine the look on my face when I was “adopted” by a second year student called Guy into a “Family” called the Thunderbirds, and that the first “social” was family night.
 

Now the official line with family nights was that they were an opportunity for first year students to get to know other members of their family and become accepted as part of the group.  In reality it was an excuse to put 1st years in their place by plying them with loads of alchohol, and getting them to do stupid and embarrassing things (which I did, but that is not for a public newsletter like this).

 
The silly thing was that up until that point in the picture above I had always moved in the opposite direction to everyone else.  When everyone at school had diadora silver striped trainers, I had to get the gold stripes!. When all my black friends had the “Jerry curl” wet look hair do, I had the flat top hair do (and no there are no photos)
 
So it was funny that being a London boy, out of my comfort zone and being in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire 100 miles from home  reduced me to conforming, doing what everyone else was doing and standing in a circle with blue and white striped boxer shorts, and white T shirt with a thunderbirds picture on it, all while wearing a white headband and puppet makeup (yes really!)
 
So what is the point of all this, apart embarrassing myself to my entire database?  Well looking at this picture reminded me that although there were some very memorable moments at college, including this picture, I always seemed to progress with my fitness career when I stayed true to myself and didn’t follow the crowd. When presenters were teaching “learn today, teach tomorrow” choreography, I was teaching stylised, dance inspired routines. While it was not mainstream, it helped me create a name for myself both in the UK and internationally, so that it worked for me.
 
Now my theory has been tested recently with….drum rolls please…..zumba! Yes good old, taking over the world zumba.  With tales of instructors getting 40 plus people in their sessions and basically earning a mint, my head was definately turned, and I almost, almost booked on a training course. But I resisted.
 
This is not a slight on Zumba or the training itself.  You cannot deny that there are people that are taking classes, that would not normally go to a gym or health club, and they are moving, which I personally think is great.  And I think that it is great that Freelancers are finally getting paid like they were back in the early to mid 90s.  However for me, when I am getting the results that I am getting with the Metabolic Effect Classes that I am teaching, I know where my heart and passion lies, and unfortunately, despite the fact that it is the thing of the moment, consumers are loving it, and I would be awesome teaching it (even if I say so myself), I have chosen to stay true to me.
 
 
Now, in a few years time, when loads of Zumba instructors have retired 20 years early and living in a tax haven somewhere, I may look back and question my decision.  But I have a sneaky suspicion that I won’t.
 
So what about you?  Have there been times where you have felt that you had to do or teach what everyone else was teaching, to earn a living from the industry?   Or are you focussed on moving away from the pack and being different?
 
Do you “zag” when everyone else is “zigging”? As Marty Neumeier, observes in his 2006 book, entitled “zag”  moving in the opposite direction than everyone else is one of the best â€~stand-outâ€(TM) strategies that there is.  The principles of zagging tell you to look for ideas that combine the qualities of GOOD and DIFFERENT.  These qualities make you stand out from everyone else instead of blending in.
 
Now when you have bills to pay that can be a difficult concept to grasp, and it may seem that you have no choice but to teach what you feel will give you an income.  What I would suggest is if you are teaching zumba, that you think of ways of getting these new customers into other classes, products or services that you offer.  That way you are doing a bit of zig and zagging at the same time.
What do YOU think?  Please add your comments below
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  • Debbie

    You can be true to yourself and teach Zumba. People will know if the instructor in genuine or not and that will eventually come through. I teach yoga as well as Zumba and I am passionate about both. Fads come and go but if you are a worthy teacher you will keep your client base.

  • Debbie

    You can be true to yourself and teach Zumba. People will know if the instructor in genuine or not and that will eventually come through. I teach yoga as well as Zumba and I am passionate about both. Fads come and go but if you are a worthy teacher you will keep your client base. So maybe I am a zig-zagger.

  • Erin Blake77

    I’m relatively new to the fitness thing 4years, I’d like to know where and what my niche is in order to zig and Zag. Also i think that we had to follow the crowd at some point in order to work out where we and if we wanted to zag in the first place.