A Journey from Anxiety to a Masterclass Presenter

Ditte Sommer Weinreich, Les Mills Trainer & Presenter, Physiotherapist and Podcast Host – For a Fitter Planet Podcast. Ditte tells us her inspiring instructor journey and how she beat anxiety and became a masterclass presenter.

The Beginning

Ditte: Back in 2012, I was studying physiotherapy and working in a clinic in Denmark where we also offered group fitness classes. At that time, I was playing elite handball and I got injured. I had always been a team player so to take care of my physics, I started going to group training because training alone had always felt boring to me. At the clinic, we had BODYPUMP classes and that is how I found Les Mills. I tried it out and from the first class I did, I just fell in love with the music and working out in a team.

One day, another club in the city needed new BODYPUMP instructors and my colleagues recommended me for the education. At first, I said no way! Standing in front of an audience and delivering a class sounded impossible to me. The reason why I thought that, was because I had struggled with performance anxiety since High School. I think the anxiety originated from the performance society that we are living in, where one should always perform at their best. I did it anyway and went on to become a BODYPUMP instructor. If I should sum up my journey, it would be something like how I went from anxiety to becoming a masterclass presenter. I had been hiding in the shadows and I thought I need to do something and can’t just keep hiding.

Group Fitness was really my medicine for anxiety. I really believe that if it feels uncomfortable, I need to do it. That has been what I live by. My favorite value from Les Mills is really to Be Brave. I decided to become an instructor, even though I was super scared. From the beginning, I felt that when the music started, all the anxiety was gone, and I felt free to be the person that I am. After that, I trained to become an instructor in other programs as well, BODYSTEP, RPM and BODYATTACK.


Becoming a Les Mills Trainer

Ditte: I Participated in a competition called Bodystep100 where you could win 2 tickets to participate in the filming of BODYSTEP 100 in New Zealand. My sister and I were both BODYSTEP instructors, so I entered the competition with a fairytale story about two sisters, and I won. My sister and I got to travel to New Zealand for the filming of BODYSTEP 100. It was very special to travel to the heart of Les Mills. During that trip, I started to really feel that there is more for me in this business. I did advanced training sometime after that, and the trainer wanted to record my class to send it to the head trainer of Les Mills Nordic. I think that was one of the factors that started my career to become a Les Mills Trainer.

I was also secretly nominated to participate in the Les Mills SUPERSTAR competition. To this day I don’t know who nominated me. I did well in the competition, and I got to the finale in Stockholm. So, I went to the finale there….and I failed totally. I think what happened then was being in that spot just triggered the old anxiety and I was not ready for it yet. I went on stage, forgot my equipment, and had to start my track twice. Even though it felt terrible at the time, I do think it was one of the most developing moments of my instructor career. I learned I cannot control everything because it takes away from being present and connecting to what is happening in the room. I needed to learn that and experience it myself. I think if you have experienced anxiety at any point in your life, it will always be a part of you but you can learn how to manage it.

I participated in a seminar that Les Mills Nordic held at the club where I was working. We got to meet the Les Mills trainer and participate in the RPM and SPRINT masterclasses. I think the trainer saw the potential in me and after the event, Les Mills Nordic approached me about becoming a part of the trainer team. It was also a case of being in the right place at the right time and this time, I was prepared, and I was ready.

"I want to build confidence in people, and I want to make people feel they belong. Because when you feel confident and feel you belong, you can do anything."

Presenting in London and filming the new releases

Ditte: I feel privileged to do this as a job as it doesn’t feel like a job. I got the opportunity to be in the filming of new releases in London. At first, I felt like my history is catching up with me, but then I thought that if I feel uncomfortable, then I really have to do it. And of course, you are there for a reason, so I must believe that I am good at what I do.

For me, it is not about being in the Masterclass videos, but the whole journey until then. All the development that has gone to my own personal story but also to everyone that I have met along the way, each person is reflected in these releases for me. And to get the chance to inspire other instructors on the same path as I have been or contribute and motivate our group fitness community in any way possible was indeed big. It was also a big thing for me to walk in the footsteps of such talented Les Mills presenters. The whole process was a huge experience, from production to the final product. We had 6 weeks to do the preparations. Presenting live there felt more natural to me than expected. I was mentally prepared this time and it felt so good. We filmed the releases in front of 1600 participants. The energy in the room was just incredible. All the rehearsals and preparations really came to life there.

When we arrived in London, we did not know what brand of clothing we would be wearing in the filming. We were so excited to find out that it was Adidas. It becomes a love brand for us. Adidas in the same way as Les Mills is a love brand. When you put on your “Les Mills uniform”, you put on your whole journey in a way. We all have our own individual journeys and reasons for being instructors, but it all comes down to the people in front of us, the participants.


Tips and inspiration from Ditte:

When you script, try focusing on the outcomes, meaning what you want the participants to experience. That way, when you are not scripting word for word, you give yourself the freedom to adapt and be more present with the participants. When you script, try to tap into your authentic self. If you are not sure, ask a friend for feedback and if they can really see you in the script.

You can always keep growing as an instructor. In the initial training, you can start finding that raw talent from within you and cultivate it. In advanced training, you develop from a super-talented instructor and become even better.

For more inspiration search and listen to For a Fitter Planet Podcast.