What I’ve Learned Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Job

The moment I realized I wanted to become a fitness instructor was in the middle of my favorite cardio kickboxing class. It encompassed everything I enjoyed about exercise – fun choreography, an energetic and encouraging instructor, and group of women who bonded over their shared commitment to health and fitness. During a time in my life when everything felt chaotic and unsettled, I always left the studio feeling cheerful and at peace with myself. That day, I fell in love with the idea of sharing these feelings with others on a daily basis. Hence, my decision to enter the world of fitness. Little did I know, taking a class and leading one was an entirely different ballgame. During the next few years of my life, I would stretch myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, mentally and physically.

Introvert Fitness Instructor: An Oxymoron?

Soon after getting my certification, I landed a position teaching bootcamps in San Jose, CA. The owner liked that I was friendly and that I shared the company’s values. And yet, I soon became aware of the fact that I was different from the others in a significant way. I always knew that I was introverted, but being an introvert in an extroverted workplace was like having a mirror in front of me. The feedback from the owner and supervisor quickly showed me that I wasn’t as energetic or expressive as I thought I was. They wanted to mold me into an instructor that would fit in with their community and deliver the type experience their clients wanted. I was already physically fit, but what I really needed were:

  • Super-charged, high energy levels.
  • An infectious, positive attitude.
  • A strong, commanding presence.

For a while, I became just that. And I learned so much in the process.

I Need to Project Energy to Create Energy

Enthusiasm and excitement are part of your mindset. Innies have it, but they project it inward. This is often why others think we are always calm even in times when we feel chaotic inside. It’s also what drives people to ask us “What’s wrong?” when we’re quiet, even though everything is usually just fine! 

In contrast, extroverts are great at embodying their feelings and projecting them outwards. And although it may feel unnatural for me and other introverts, projecting energy is a skill that can be practiced. It’s just a matter of finding a way to bring it out. For it me, that usually meant listening to my choreo music, volume at full blast on my way to the studio. I also arrived 15-20 minutes early to practice my routines and “get into character.”

Lesson Learned: I have a wellspring of energy inside me. With a little effort, I can bring it out.

Lesson 2: Recovery Matters

It’s a myth that introverts don’t like to be around people. Many of us enjoy parties, nightclubs, and spending time with friends. However, in contrast to extroverts, who get their energy from hanging out with others, in these situations, an introvert’s energy slowly fades. Alone time is how we recharge.

In the beginning, being an introvert fitness instructor was crazy making. It never occurred to me that my introversion would affect my ability to do my job. Yet, by the middle of each week, I found myself pushing past exhaustion to fake the magic. I started dreading the classes I used to love so much! And once the weekend finally hit, I’d hole up in my room for two days just to feel normal again. When Monday came, the cycle started over again.

I eventually cut the more energy intensive classes, like U-Jam Fitness, cardio-kickboxing, and bootcamps from my schedule. I took on more small groups (2-4 people) and 1:1 personal training, and I started teaching yoga. I felt more peaceful on a daily basis and instead of hiding from the world on my days off, I started reaching out to friends. 

Lesson Learned: Be selfish when it comes to mental and emotional recovery. I am a better, happier person when I take care of myself.

Lesson 3: Always Be Yourself

I’ve been in the fitness industry for six years now. I’ve taught so many different kinds of classes and taught at all sorts of studios, from big corporations to tech companies to high end studios and tiny, local community gyms. The times I felt most chaotic were when I tried to act like someone else. Sure, if I wanted to, I could continue to play the part of the kick-ass, bubbly, high energy, fitness instructor. And I’d be good at it! But it doesn’t feel good. What feels good is connecting with people one on one, sharing my knowledge through blogs and video content, and staying at peace with myself.

And strangely enough, my boss, my co-workers, and my clients like the unique personality and perspective that I bring to the studio. They often tell me that being around me makes them feel grounded and calm. I like that too.

Lesson Learned: It’s okay to be myself. The more I embrace who I am, the more opportunities I give others to embrace me too.

Love & Light ❤


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