By Claire Gould, Trainer at BFX Studio
Disclaimer: I’ve been “full-time” in the fitness industry for one year. That’s it. I’ve worked in fitness for almost 8 years, but it was always my part-time passion until I was able to make the BIG transition and a leap of faith to full-time. This is my snapshot of how I’ve managed my energy and put my heart and soul into my work. How I’ve found balance in the hustle and bustle that is New York City. This is not everyone’s experience in the fitness industry – just mine. We all have our own amazing stories. Our why.
I APPLAUD my friends & fellow industry colleagues who made the full-time leap right away. I just felt that wasn’t my path, and it took me a lot of time, prioritizing, and strategizing to get to where I’m at right now. At times I’ve beaten myself up for not starting sooner — for not diving in. But I quickly silence those negative thoughts. My experiences in and out of the fitness studio have shaped who I am as an instructor. Injuries have taught me more than I could’ve ever imagined about the human body. Corporate work taught me about stress and tight hip flexors. Our experiences make us. Both positive and negative experiences give us all the tools we need to forge the paths we are meant to be on. I am currently on a path that not long ago was just a dream. I feel like I’m living my life’s purpose. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days, but since I’ve found what helps balance me (especially in a crazy, vibrant city), I find joy even in those tough days.
I turn 30 next month, and that has me reflecting on the start of my fitness career. I started teaching in Seattle, WA, at 22 years old, thanks to the help of some incredible mentors (Tricia Murphy Madden and Traci Barnum-Bartee). I didn’t plan on teaching classes, but when I discovered group fitness my junior year of college, I felt a calling I couldn’t ignore. I got my AFAA group fitness and personal trainer certifications and taught part-time while working as an assistant manager with Lululemon. My dream was always to move to a big city (hello NYC), so in 2009 I made the cross-country trek.
I began training clients right when I moved to the city. In 2011 I got back into the group fitness scene after obtaining my group TRX certification. I worked part-time in fitness while working as an assistant manager at Lululemon Union Square. In July of 2012 one of my personal training clients gave me a job as her paralegal/personal assistant. Though the goal was full-time fitness, I wanted the security that steady pay and health insurance provide (choices one must make in an expensive city). I also wanted to help her — to make her life easier, better. In any role or job I take on, that's what drives me. It's in my make-up. To love and help people with my whole being.
My decision to work at the firm paid off when I had to have hip surgery for a labral tear in September 2014. In January 2015, after extensive physical therapy and some focused financial planning, I took the plunge into full-time fitness. Woohoo! This past year has been one of the most challenging and rewarding of my life:
You take on the role of “early bird” and “night owl.” I rise at 4:30/5am most mornings, and Tuesdays I’m not home until 10pm.
It’s the most rewarding “work” I’ve ever done. When you love something this much, it hardly feels like work.
I leave every class morning/noon/evening with a grin on my face. My goal is to always educate, move, and inspire others. Call it Law of Attraction, or whatever you want, but my clients give that inspiration back (and more) when they show up and keep it at 100 percent.
Your body, mind, voice will be challenged. I have routine work-ups with my physical therapist, a sports massage therapist, and a vocal coach.
Water is your BFF. Not coffee — although I tried to make it!
Planning a wedding/getting married/being a solid life partner while tackling a career change is intense. But with the right person (hey A.J.), that ish is so fun!
I've seen so many people take on too much (we see this in any industry). It takes a strong sense of self and a strong sense of what your body needs to maintain balance. Learning how to balance the right amount of training, rest, and recovery is an art form. It's all trial and error. Some weeks may differ from others. Just make sure to listen to YOUR body and what it needs! I even went back to working at the law firm part-time for consistent pay that isn't taxing on my body. We all do what we need to do.
I actually became less in-shape when I made the switch to full-time fitness work. It sounds silly right? But I cared so much about studying, class planning, playlisting, and taking care of clients that my own self-care suffered. Luckily my guardian angel of fitness (my mentor, friend, everything) Kira Stokes was so supportive when I came to her with this confession. She said she’s seen so many people go through the same thing when they make the switch to full-time fitness. I now schedule my classes/sessions like meetings that I cannot miss. Yes, it’s that important. You can catch me sweating weekly with these incredible humans:
TUES 5:30pm Stoked C3BarreMAX with Kira Stokes (BFX Studio Chelsea) - Kira is the standard. Her programming, coaching, and energy are in a league of their own. Her class is a must!
WEDS 8:20am Chest/Back/Abs with Rebecca Kennedy (Barry’s Bootcamp Tribeca) - Simply put: RK is the best. She just gets it — how to program, what makes sense, progressions.
WEDS 6:45pm Box & Strength with Hollywood Hino (BFX Studio FIDI) - Hino and I have totally different coaching styles, but that's what I love. Also, boxing has sculpted my arms like whoa.
FRI 10:30am Brooklyn Bodyburn with Bianca Paige (Williamsburg) - Bodyburn was such a struggleeeeee for me initially (remember that bad hip of mine?), but through B's patient yet strong coaching I'm seeing crazy improvements. Little by little.
FRI 6pm A.C.C.E.S.S. with Rebecca Kennedy (291 Broadway) - Yes, I love RK so much that I see her twice weekly for class. You’ll also catch us running around town rockin’ twin fishtail braids together, the love runs deep.
Other classes I adore:
Pilates with my birthday twin Jenn Seracuse at Flex Studios
SoulCycle with bestie Emily Turner (Emily T on the schedule)
SLT with my girl Lanae Rhodes
Exceed Physical Culture with my PNW babe Lacee Lazoff
When I'm not in classes, I'm putting myself through a TRX workout or I'm hitting the pool for some laps. I, like so many others, believe that our core is our powerhouse, and I always train with that in mind.
Other ways I find balance:
Through fueling my body. I eat real, whole foods — but you can bet your bottom I make space for Dough doughnuts.
Spending time with my hubs, or quality friend time
Sometimes a 9pm bedtime (get it grandma)
Listening to lots of country/alt rock
Practicing new moves
Goal setting and journaling…
There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to balance. It's not what your friend/instructor/social media crush needs, but what YOU need. Take the time to connect with yourself and see what brings you joy. Then action it!
Claire Gould is a group fitness Xpert at BFX Studio and a private trainer based in NYC, by way of the Pacific NW. A competitive swimmer since age 3, Claire believes that dedication, hard work, goal setting and teamwork (find your tribe) are the key components to creating a life of movement. For Claire, it's not about focusing on aesthetics, but instead focusing on what your body can do. The body/mind/spirit we all desire comes from treating ourselves with love and compassion and finding movement that speaks to our own interests.
Knowledge is power. Always thirsty for knowledge, Claire holds AFAA Group Fitness and Personal Fitness Trainer certifications, as well as TRX Suspension Training, Schwinn Indoor Cycling, and Jillian Michaels Body Shred certifications. She continues to grow/learn and is lucky to count some of the industry's leaders as her dear friends and mentors. Claire loves sharing her for passion for movement and living a full life with her clients, family and friends. She creates a "team" environment in every class she teaches. She'll push you to greatness while being your personal cheerleader, coach, and motivator (with a little help from some thick beats)!