I am thrilled to welcome Gina Fry to the HH50 community. The fabulous people at Clubbercise recommended we speak with her and I am so grateful for the introduction. In between running her business and teaching, Gina kindly shared her story:
Which sport do you enjoy?
I mostly enjoy group exercise classes – I don’t find the gym very inspiring or motivating. I actually teach classes but also attend classes for my own well being too.
Have you always been sporty or is this new to you?
I’ve now been teaching for 24 years, and what was once a hobby has turned into a job and a total lifestyle.
If you were sporty when you were younger & then stopped, why did you stop?
As a child I was a keen ballroom dancer and a fairly decent swimmer, but school sport did nothing for me because I was short, not the fastest or most competitive with slightly chunky legs that I got teased for. So the idea of standing in a room full of PE ‘perfect girls’ literally put me off all sport, and eventually stopped me swimming and dancing too.
Who or what motivated you to start again?
I was 23 years old when I went to my first aerobics class in the 1980s. Flashdance, the album, was the music for the class and I fell instantly in love with aerobics. Everything changed instantly. I spent all my birthday money on a new pair of trainers, a bright green leotard and had matching leggings and tights too! I danced my socks off for three years and finally had the slim little figure I’d always wanted.
I then started my family, my daughter Emily was born in 1991 and instead of going back to full time work in an office, I trained to teach Exercise to Music, and that’s where it all began. (Gina has two daughters, Emily 24 and Bridie, 18 and is married to Steve).
How often do you teach a week?
I currently teach 10 classes a week including dance fitness programmes such as Zumba, Clubbercise and FitSteps. I also teach a couple of bums and tums classes, pilates and mature movers. I own and manage a small studio in Frome in Somerset and with a team of newer, younger instructors. We manage to deliver a 7 day a week programme to the community. I also regularly try to get out and participate in Masterclasses as that’s what helps keep me fresh and motivated, which is vital for any group instructor.
Can you tell us more about Clubbercise and how you discovered it?
Myself and five of my team took the training in December 2014 on the advice of a friend and fellow instructor, Debbie Bailey. We worked over Christmas to prepare to launch our classes in January of 2015.
People love Clubbercise because of the music – for most attendees, the club anthems used are reminders of their youth! The darkness of the room and the atmosphere created by the disco lighting makes them feel liberated. Self-consciousness goes out the window and we do find people give a little more of themselves in this atmosphere.
It’s great when friends attend together because then the party atmosphere is really evident. People who rarely go out clubbing these days really do look forward to their Clubbercise class with a passion, because to them, it IS their night out.
We are just about to spread our classes out further beyond our studio and are looking to start teaching in Trowbridge and Bath and spread the Clubber love further afield.
Clubbercise’s Founder Claire Burlison Green kindly shared her own vision for Clubbercise with us too.
“The concept of Clubbercise was born out of a yearning for our carefree clubbing days, before jobs and families took over. We missed dancing the night away to great music and the fact that you can burn calories on the dancefloor – no gym required! Clubbercise brings all of these great factors together – music, dance and fitness. Our flashing LED glow sticks are the icing on the cake – they’re so much fun to use, you literally forget you’re exercising!”
How has exercise enhanced your life?
Exercise keeps me fit and healthy – and YOUNG! I can physically do more now than I could when I was 17 and I often need to be reminded that I am NOT 17, so act your age! I don’t think age should be a barrier at all – in fact my mature movers ladies actually perform some generic exercises better than some of my younger clients. They work at keeping everything in tip top shape as much as they can.
What are your biggest motivations?
We all have different reasons for taking up exercise. For me, obviously it’s my job, but if it wasn’t I don’t think I’d do it any less, I would just be paying someone else to do it! My initial reason for taking it up was weight loss, but now it’s lifestyle. I don’t just ‘do’ exercise… exercise is my life. It’s who I am. I may not be an Olympic athlete, and I certainly don’t have the body I had at 26, but I can’t think how I’d fill my time if I didn’t do my dance fitness classes.
What were or are your biggest obstacles to taking part regularly and how do you overcome them?
Sometimes people can’t justify committing their time because life is so hectic, and that’s sad, because we all ought to spend some time investing in our own selves. Your physical wellbeing and total medical health depends on emotional and physical fitness, and for me, dancing provides both of those. The fun is the most important factor, it has to be fun for anyone to want to do it repeatedly. Sporadic involvement doesn’t cut it, so finding what you love is key to success. Continued regular activity will bring results, both in body and in mind.
Who inspires you?
The dance fitness world in the UK is blessed with a plethora of very talented master trainers. They are totally dedicated to the task of delivering not only an exercise class, but a motivating experience. I’d say my first Inspiration was Caroline Parsons a Zumba Educational Specialist for the UK, as well as Donna Giffen, also ZES for UK and Loretta Bates, a ZES from America, who I was lucky enough to attend a few sessions with in the past. Their talent as instructors is without question, but they have an added almost hidden skill of communicating with you so that you feel you are the most important person in their class, if not the only person. That’s how I feel anyway!
How do you feel when you are a participant in the Masterclass?
I love being a participant. I get to experience what my customers experience when they are in my classes. I get to self-critique, and I know from that what people’s expectations should be. I set a pretty high bar in those expectations, because that one hour in a person’s life that is given to the instructor each week is of immense importance to the participant, and we need to make sure we don’t disappoint.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
As a Zumba Instructor with established fitness experience, I began to deliver mini masterclasses of my own. These were charity fundraisers and two or three of them attracted up to 300 people and that was mind-blowing. As a result, I was then asked to present some sessions at a fitness residential weekend, and then finally was asked to co-present at an Army fundraiser, alongside Caroline Parsons, my original Zumba Trainer whom I admire so much!
What are your next goals for the future?
I expected to slow down by now…. I turned 50 last February. I made plans to cut some classes and teach only part time. That didn’t quite go to plan.
In addition to Zumba I also teach Clubbercise, Tomboogie and FitSteps (a ballroom dancing fitness programme designed by Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Show) and I am now part of the UK Training Team for FitSteps.
In the future, I hope to go on to specialise in teaching active older adults, as that’s where I believe I can really make a difference to people’s lives and put a smile on their faces. It’s also the direction my poor old body is taking me!
What are the 3 best things you love about your sport? And the worst?!
The three main things I love about my chosen sport of dance fitness is
1/ It’s FUN
2/ It’s accessible – anyone can do it and
3/ It’s non-judgemental.
The three worst things about dance fitness is
1/ There aren’t enough days in the week to do it!
I can’t think of any more.
Do you track your fitness & has this enhanced your enjoyment? What do you use & would you recommend it?
I recently bought a ‘FITBIT’ to track my activity, and it is amazing to have it printed out in front of you what you do on a daily basis. I can take up to 20000 steps in a day on an active day, but less than 3000 on an ‘office’ day – that really surprised me. What I love knowing is how I’ve slept through the night.
What’s your favourite piece of kit?
What’s your favourite song you train to?
Gonna Make you Sweat
What’s your favourite food after class?
Do you have a favourite magazine related to your sport?
The FitPro magazine is very good for instructors, but social media nowadays is excellent for sharing information about what’s current and what isn’t.
If someone was thinking about taking up a new sport/exercise but doubted herself or felt unsure about being judged or made to feel welcome, what would you say to them?
- Shop around and find classes that are open, welcoming to all and not cliquey.
- If you’re not successful first time, don’t give up.
- Community classes have to offer a little something over and above just the classes they teach to compete with the big gym chains, who give their classes away in a bundle with memberships. As a result, you will find that a community instructor will possibly be more welcoming and approachable, as if they are not, they won’t be in business for long!
If someone was interested in taking up your sport, what practical tips would you suggest they do next?
- If someone was thinking of joining a class, I would say do it!
- All the dance fitness programmes have websites with class finders nowadays and all you need to do is put in your postcode, and the classes near you will flag up.
- Give it a go.
- You never know where it will lead you…
Do you have a sporting or life motto?
You CAN, you just don’t KNOW you can! (yet)
Finally, this blog & community is called HealthyHappy50. With the lessons you have learned over the years, what would you tell your 20 year old self or 20 year old friends/relatives about health & happiness?
- Love yourself a bit more.
- Be grateful for what you have and
- Use your life like it’s precious commodity, because it is, and one day, you will look back and wonder why you didn’t see then what you see now.
For more information, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org our class timetable (which is extensive and has around 46 classes per week between us all) is www.fitnessatbodybasics.com or www.zumbafitnessfrome.co.uk for details on our Zumba classes. The address: Body Basics Studio, Frome Football Club, Frome, Somerset, BA11 2EH.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Gina – it certainly makes me feel like dancing just reading it. We wish you every success with the business! Thank you also to Clubbercise for introducing HH50 to Gina – we really appreciate it.
For more information on Clubbercise and find a class in your local area, go to www.clubbercise.com or find them on Twitter @clubbercise.
Photos courtesy of/copyright to Gina Fry or Clubbercise.
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