To the Instructors Out There

Now that I follow some bloggers who gave/give lessons (Megan, Kathryn), I think about them a lot.  I am both a steady source of income for and a pebble in the shoe of all of the trainers in my life.

For example, my oblique lesson?  My trainer began it with, "These are the things that keep me up at night.  You're so strong, but [you don't use your core].  If we can figure this out, I think this is the key."

(What she didn't know until I told her is that my lack of core strength is a running joke at the gym.  Then she started to put things together.)

Labor Day WOD crew!

Aimee complemented my body awareness in my last post, but seriously, I cannot understate how little body awareness I have.  Many times over the years, Nicole has had to physically pick up my body parts and put them where they should be to teach me a lift in CrossFit because I think I'm mimicking what she just showed me, but in reality, I'm nowhere close.  In reality, teaching me any physical skill takes years and lots of rote practice (see also: ballroom dancing, Guitar Hero, the snatch...)

Dramatic reenactment of my job at 2013 Regionals.  I pay her back for being a challenging student by being her personal competition assistant.

For years, I've been crunching with the right side when I use the right rein, and I would have kept on doing it if she hadn't noticed that.  And she's been teaching me 52 lessons a week for nearly five years now. 250 lessons in, and my problems still keep her up at night, and we still make discoveries together like this.

I am a slow learner on a quirky horse.  I'm going to take five years to get Connor to where my trainer could get him in six months.  I'm going to work really hard and progress at a turtle's pace.  I know that sometimes it's agonizingly slow, and that my problems do keep my trainer up at night.  But we solve them, one at a time.

And I pay her back with a check every month for the rest of my natural life.

So to all you lesson giving warriors out there, if you have a student that just doesn't 'get it', hang in there with them!  The slow learners/hard workers of the world appreciate it.  And will continue to pay you!


  1. Hey, the snatch is a pretty complicated lift to learn, give yourself a little credit! ;-)

    I love this post and agree with everything that you said. I'm sure that as challenging as it can be to have a student struggling with a concept, when they finally do get it then it's that much more rewarding.

    1. Oh no kidding, haha. Funny story, the snatch is actually the reason I met Nicole. My husband and I were doing CrossFit together, and he tried to teach me the snatch, and that just was not working. So he suggested I ask 'that girl at the counter for personal training sessions.' Ta da!

  2. Slower to learn also means slower to learn bad habits too though. I had a client who was super fast to learn but man could she come up with some weird shit to do with her body in a week!! There are pros and cons to both and the nice thing about an instructor with a lot of experience is that they keep chugging along because they've had a variety of students in the past and know how to push people with different learning speeds/styles.

    It doesn't bother me when someone struggles to learn a concept, because I know eventually I (or another instructor) am going to say the right thing at the right time and they're going to get it. And then the concept is going to sink in a lot deeper than if I had rushed it. It's all about giving things the right amount of time to cook inside your brain!

    And the thing that's great about you, is that you don't seem to be the sort of person who just agrees with your instructor when you don't get something. I can't tell you how many times I've been on both sides of the "did you feel that" "...yes" exchange. I've been the instructor being like "hmmm I really don't think she gets it" and I've been the student lying so we could move past it and do something fun (typically when I was a teenager haha). It's crucial to be honest about stuff like that and you've totally got that down. That's invaluable in a student.

    For the record, I have very little body awareness too. I can't play guitar hero and the snatch was something I never got close to. I struggle with the biomechanics of cleans and squats too. I'm still fighting bad habits from five and ten years ago. Even after riding weekly with two BNTs for the last few years. Riding definitely has a way of haunting you like that.

  3. ugh i'm right there with you - the body awareness thing is NOT my strong point at all. like, i only just discovered thighs were a thing i could use while riding this past summer, and i still pretty much have independent NOTHING has a rider lol.

    but yes, everything about this post is awesome. sure, i won't be able to get it done as quickly or as well as a world class professional, but i *will* get it done eventually and well enough for my purposes as an ammy :)

    1. I'm with you - just now getting some semblance of independent aids in places, but not everywhere.

  4. It's so great to read this, because sometimes I worry that I am the ONLY one who just takes a really long time to learn things. I work hard, and I always TRY but many times things just don't seem to "come together" like they do for other riders.

    Yet reading this reminds me that I'm not the only one who has become a decent rider solely through hard work, despite a lack of natural talent. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me that I CAN get where I want to go, even if it takes me 10x as long

    1. I am so glad! I'm seriously right there with you. I think Dressage, by virtue of requiring you have total and complete control of not only your own body, but your horse's, magnifies it. It makes it hard, but also very rewarding.

  5. Body awareness is a huge struggle for me. I adore instructors (whether equine, ballroom dance, or pilates) who can really help me break things down to their most basic elements. I think it's part of being an overachieving perfectionist--I don't just want to do the move. I want to do it RIGHT.

  6. My coach's approach to fixing my position is "I will keep pestering you until you fix it." Some shit she's been pestering me about FOREVER, and some stuff is quicker to fix.

    I've been on the instructor side too, and when I've felt frustrated when teaching (hopefully not communicating that to my students), it's been because I feel like if I were a better teacher, I'd be able to say something in a way they could understand. I used to teach this girl who would essentially attach her pinkies to the front of the saddle pad, and I COULD NOT fix it for the longest time, and I didn't see that as a referendum on her as much as on me (and on the person who taught her to ride like that on purpose). The way I eventually got there was by focusing on the position of her foot in the stirrup until we got that right, and then her lower leg, and then her upper leg, and then her seatbones, and thennnnn she was able to bring her shoulders back and align her spine correctly and then... she would have had to have worked on keeping her pinkies on the pad. It took months, but me saying "carry a pair of hands" over and over again would have gliterally taken forever.

  7. I need to send my coach a thank you, I'm sure there are many days when I'm riding that she's hating her life lol

  8. I used to teach competitive figure skating, and I would rather have a slow learning student that loved the sport and tried hard than an apathetic natural talent... any day!


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