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Getting fired is probably most people’s worst nightmare. You lose your only source of stable income.
In 2015, I signed up for a part-time job as a fitness instructor at a popular US barre fitness chain. I knew nothing about the studio at the time. The only thing I did know was that the studio had achieved immense success in the US and that the owner was planning to open the first studio in Canada in Toronto.
I thought this would be a fun little adventure for me. But before the studio even opened its doors for business, I was fired.
In this article, I am going to share how I found the job which I later got fired from, as well as the important lessons I learned along the way.
How I found out about the job
The owner had posted the job listing on Craigslist. I often browse Craigslist in search of new ideas on things to do. So, one day, as I was searching “dance classes,” this ad came up. I clicked on it and it sounded like a perfect opportunity for me.
The ad said that they’re looking for fitness instructors who have experience in either dance, yoga, or pilates. I thought great, I’m a certified yoga instructor and I dance classical ballet, this should be a cinch. I quickly emailed the ad owner. She then agreed to meet me at a local Starbucks where we could discuss the job.
We met up and discussed the application procedure. I’d have to read a script that she sends me and make a recording of myself doing so. I had no idea how to actually say these recordings, as there was obviously a very succinct way of delivering the message. With variation in voice tonality and all that. I’m really bad at being expressive with my voice but somehow, my video still got approved by the headquarters. I was then on my way to the corporate training!
Before attending the corporate training, I had to sign a waiver that basically said that if I fail to meet the duties as an instructor and teach for at least 6 months, then I would have to pay back $2,000. This is mainly to cover the costs of sending me to the training. I signed the waiver without even thinking twice. I thought, I’d already done my yoga teacher training, this barre training should be a piece of cake.
The corporate training was held in the US and the studio owner booked the flights for me. For our studio, we were 4 instructors in total. I think a total of 4-5 studios were participating in the weekend training with us.
The studio took care of all our expenses – lodging (shared accommodation in a standard hotel), meals, and flights. We basically had no time to do anything else but train for this new barre method. The training consumed the entire day. During training, we learned all the sequences and practiced teaching each other. We definitely got our sweat on. On top of that, we had “homework” to do in the evenings.
Overall, I’d say that I enjoyed the corporate training. However, when I finally learned what the “barre technique” entailed, and what the teaching was all about, I wanted to back out. I didn’t have a good feeling.
Talking with my team mates/coworkers did not help
My team mate and I shared the same negative sentiments. She was a classically-trained ballet teacher and she basically cringed every time she had to teach the barre sequence because it was TOTALLY NOT BALLET! The technique was off and there was no musicality or artistry involved.
My team mate also said that she feels that the studio would not do very well in Toronto’s market. We are full of artists and hippies. I also felt the same way, but I had already signed my soul away (the waiver that costed me $2,000).
Back in Toronto
So the training ended and we were given something like 30 days to memorize all the sequences and achieve a “standard” level of teaching. We had to record ourselves teaching and get the video approved by the headquarters.
I had weekly meetings with the studio owner where we practiced and she would correct all the faults I was making. These meetings are downright dreadful. I spent almost no time practicing or memorizing the script in my head. I hated the idea of having to teach a sequence and repeat a script verbatim. What I value in fitness is flexibility and fluidity and this robotic sequence wasn’t cutting it.
The studio’s opening date kept getting pushed back due to construction delays, and that helped me to buy more time with this video test. I had tried doing the video test 3 times and every time, I was way over the allotted one-hour limit for class. Without sufficient practice, I was just too slow with all of my cues. I could tell that the studio owner was getting nervous and fed up with me. She didn’t see any progress in my teaching abilities at all.
After my third failure, the studio owner sent me an email saying that she would like to terminate our contract. I was secretly wishing for this day to come. I was super glad that I didn’t have to do another video test or actually teach this method!
And on the bright side, I was only charged $1,000 for my termination, not the full $2,000. I’m not entirely sure why. I think it could have been the fact that the construction dragged on for so long that so many months had already passed by. Who knows.
Why I should have been fired
As I previously mentioned, getting fired from this job was the best thing to happen to me. I could feel a huge weight lifted off me when I saw the email saying “Termination of Contract.” I never knew I’d be so happy getting fired and having to pay $1,000 for my failed attempt!
There were a lot of red flags right off the get-go that would have signalled that I wasn’t fit for this position:
1. I wasn’t passionate about the company
As I said, I’d never tried the method before. And when I did, I realized I didn’t love it. It’s hard to teach fitness if you don’t actually love what you’re doing.
2. I didn’t believe in the company
I’m a fan of free art and movement and I didn’t like how the barre method was so sequenced and rigid. I basically didn’t believe in the company at all.
3. My team mates also did not believe in the company
I was talking to other team mates who also shared the same ideas as me. This only allowed our discontentment with the company to grow stronger.
4. I hated the fact that I wasn’t paid for training
I had invested so many hours (literally days if you count the weekend trainings) and I never to compensation for any of it. Worse yet, I had no motivation to practice because I wasn’t getting paid for it.
Lessons learned from being fired
From this experience, I feel like I had grown a lot as a person. And that is why I say that it’s the best thing that happened to me.
1. Jobs are not as easy as they appear to be
I realized that working as a fitness instructor is tough work. Up to this point, I had mostly held office jobs. I was paid decently and my work was quite stable. However, through this experience, I could see how difficult it was to be a struggling fitness instructor. They really have to hustle for just a meagre pay. Although I really hated my desk job, I actually learned to appreciate it compared to a fitness instructor job. In other words, I realized that I actually like having a stable income.
2. I finally understood why so many people get hired for the wrong job
I learned that some employers have no idea what they’re doing. This is a prime example of hiring the wrong person for the job. I was totally wrong for the job, and the studio owner should have been able to see it right off the bat! Now, I fully understand why some people get hired for the wrong positions.
3. I learned the value of money (kind of)
I realized that money is not everything. In fact, I was willing to forego the $2,000 (which was then reduced to $1,000) to get out of this contract and keep my sanity.
4. I learned to not rush into things too quickly, especially those involving a signed contract!
I learned to not jump into anything too quickly. It was very careless of me to sign on for this program without considering all the contract terms and realizing how difficult it would be to actually qualify to teach. The next time I have to sign a contract, I’ll be sure to read through the details!
5. I became happier with myself
I learned to stop being jealous of others. All too often we are bombarded with images of beautiful and successful instructors and models and other people that you want to be like. I was finally offered a chance to be like those people who I often admired. I finally realized that I didn’t want this life, and now I don’t envy these people anymore.
I was fired as a fitness instructor. I have never tried to teach fitness since that day. It’s not that I have a bruised ego, I just truly believe that this profession is not for me. Or at least, not for the moment.
I learned a lot of life lessons from this experience. Although it was only a part-time job, the same lessons can be applied to any job. Getting fired sucks, but sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. It certainly beats having to quit my job for the third time around! Better days will come 🙂
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