Bronté Terrell, UK, Actress/ Group Fitness Manager/ BODYPUMP™, LES MILLS GRIT™, LES MILLS CORE™, LES MILLS SPRINT™
My mum got me into group cycle classes when I was at drama school. Our fabulous regular Instructor, Vicki, whose classes I had fallen in love with, was off, and thus began my experience with cover Instructors. Some were awesome, but some needed a little more development… so I started to think: if they can do that, I’m pretty sure I can too. I realized teaching would work well alongside being an actress. I was always told that 99 percent of trained actors are out of work, so I figured that teaching classes would be a great money earner between acting jobs!
I landed a role on the British soap ‘Hollyoaks’ in 2021, not long after I'd also become a Group Exercise Manager. I found myself in my trailer, hundreds of miles from home, trying to learn lines for the show, choreography for classes, AND update the class online timetable remotely. It was challenging to say the least…
There are lots of cross-overs between acting and teaching. An obvious one is the Key Element of Performance, and that comes from discipline – commitment to perfecting your lines or learning your routine so you can make it look effortless on stage. That discipline was instilled in me from an early age, to the point that it’s now second nature.
The other big one is Connection. We know that’s what participants want from the Instructor in class, and it’s also inherent in the performing arts. And, of course, there’s the love of movement, which applies to both teaching and performance.
The thing I love most about group exercise, especially BODYPUMP, is the inclusivity. I love that different people from different walks of life – race, background, ethnicity – come together in the love of movement. The playing field is levelled because we’re all moving together, at the same time, to the same piece of music. I think it’s amazing and it makes my whole heart happy.
I truly believe in doing what you love. Everything that I do aligns with my values, my beliefs as a person and, above all, they bring me joy.
Dr Albert Domingo, The Philippines, Public Health Physician/ RPM
My Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh is in Health Systems and Public Policy. Shortly after returning to the Philippines, I got into consultancy work with WHO (World Health Organization), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and implementing agencies of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This year, I joined the Philippine civil service as a career executive in the Department of Health. Essentially, I help find solutions to systemic problems behind ill health, hoping to fix those systems to prevent or cure disease.
I started my fitness journey a decade before I began teaching. When I first signed up for a gym membership in 2007, the very first class I tried was RPM. I was instantly hooked on the rhythmic and upbeat music, as well as the adrenaline rush that came from trying to match the moves and pace of the Instructor. And the workouts did work out! I lost excess pounds and my energy levels improved dramatically. The exercise also helped me cope with stress from the rigors of medical school.
Being an RPM instructor helps me in my public health work as it lets me practice what I preach; we're all for preventive care and strengthening systems. I find it fulfilling to literally embody those principles by advocating for a healthier lifestyle through structured, safe and effective physical activity. It also helps in the advocacy for mental health, since RPM classes are high on the list of stress relievers! On the other side of the coin, being a physician and public health worker adds credibility to my coaching when I teach RPM. Maybe that’s also why I love the program – it’s scientific, and my day job helps me connect to the medical and health aspects of the workout.
What I love about both my work in public health and as an Instructor is that I’m helping others. Both require effort, but the returns are immense – especially when you realize that success means many lives improved or even saved in the long run!
Ahmed Nagiub, Dubai, Civil Engineer, Dubai/ RPM
I’m a project manager at a contracting company in Dubai. We’re specialists in building new construction buildings like luxury villas, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings.
I have to be at construction sites almost every day in the hot weather of Dubai, and we have a lot of pressure to follow the construction schedules and make the maximum profit for my company. I manage more than 100 workers to get the optimum productivity for the project, but I still teach my classes early in the morning before starting work. I love teaching because it makes me stronger to work under the sun, as well as improving my cognitive skills when it comes to solving work problems.
My work as an engineer helps me as an Instructor because I’m always curious about the details and striving to offer work of the highest quality. This translates to my coaching, in that I try to say the right thing, at the right time, so my participants can reach their goals.
Christine Williams, Australia, Fighting Climate Change/ BODYPUMP
I’m Chief Data Scientist for Evalue8 Sustainability, which is an automated carbon accounting firm based in Australia. Evalue8 Sustainability suggests ways for organizations to save on emissions and energy costs, and provides an audit trail to help them substantiate their emissions claims.
I had a back injury in 1996 that left me unable to walk properly. Recovery required six sessions a day of 10 minutes of physiotherapy exercises over 18 months. In 1999, I moved to Canberra from Hobart and joined a gym for the first time. I discovered that BODYPUMP included the advanced versions of a lot of the exercises that I needed to do to stay mobile.
Swapping out physiotherapy for BODYPUMP was good for me psychologically because exercising in group fitness classes made me feel normal instead of broken. Unless you've experienced a medical condition, injury or disability that stops you from doing things others take for granted, you probably don’t understand how much people that do have limitations hate feeling singled out. They value being shown what they can do instead.
Being an Instructor helps me in my day job because you get used to breaking the ice with new people. Often, my work is about empowering people to make changes by building their skills and knowledge. If you can put forward options to clients before they invest in new infrastructure or energy efficiency, you can have a long-term impact on both the greenhouse gas emissions and cost structures of their organizations.
My day job helps people in my classes relate to me as a person. I’m not what people think of when they imagine a typical fitness instructor. I’m 57, have a sedentary job and five children, the youngest of whom is 11. I do understand the challenge of balancing jobs, family, social responsibilities and my own health. We’re all taking it a day at a time, doing the best we can on the day.
What I love about teaching is that there’s a place for everyone. You need to find your niche based on what you bring. In my case, it is a recognition that fitness is not just for the able-bodied under-25 set. It’s a life-long need. As a group fitness instructor, I help others stay strong and this helps them to support those around them.
Devon Zanin, US, Police Officer/ BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK™, LES MILLS CORE, SH’BAM™
Crime doesn’t sleep and the police work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. A day in the life of a Police Officer in New York is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. I'm based in Poughkeepsie, and we answer calls about anything: someone losing their dog, having a fight with a spouse, or getting shot. You may have to mediate a situation, save someone’s life, or arrest someone for breaking the law. I never know what my day will bring, so I have to be prepared for anything.
Being an Instructor helps me in my day job without a doubt. It keeps me strong and improves my endurance. Teaching has also given me the confidence to be able to put my boots on and say: “I got this!” every single day. My classes are also part of my mental health and overall wellness. I can’t tell you how many times I've taught a class after a rough day and felt so much better seeing the smiles on my members' faces.
Two years ago, my partner and I were almost killed. We were ambushed by a male suspect trying to stab us. I don’t remember much about the incident, but I'm told that I saved our lives. I got the weapon away within a blink of an eye, and then had to continue to fight for our lives. If I hadn’t been as strong or as confident as I am, the outcome could have been very different. The violent altercation lasted 2 and a half minutes, which felt like an eternity. God was watching over me that night. I credit all my years of consistent training, Les Mills classes, believing in myself, and never giving up, to the fact that we came out of that alive.
Kathryn Clare, Australia, Physiotherapist/ BODYJAM™
I grew up in a small farming town in regional Victoria and know first-hand how challenging regional health can be. I was fortunate enough during one of my final clinical placements to work as part of the Aboriginal Health Service in Geraldton Western Australia. I learnt so much about Indigenous people and their culture, and how a western medical model isn’t always an effective solution to help these communities navigate the health issues they face on a daily basis.
I’m based in Perth, and I work for Fly2Health, a multidisciplinary organization that provides health services to regional and remote Western Australia and Queensland. On a typical day I’ll fly to a regional Aboriginal community named Wiluna, which is northeast of Perth (roughly 10 hours by car or 2.5 hours by plane). The team (Physiotherapist, Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapist) currently fly out on a monthly schedule. We service the community based out of the Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service as well as seeing pediatric clients at the local school and conducting home visits. We see a full spectrum of needs and conditions, ranging from early childhood intervention, through to people recovering from major health issues such as stroke, major accidents, diabetes, neurological conditions etc…
Being an Instructor has helped my confidence in connecting with people and helping them feel at ease when they're in an environment that may be uncomfortable for them (like a treatment room or gym). It’s also helped me be more adaptable and flexible when things don't go as planned – essential in both professions! Teaching has also humbled me in understanding that people take on information or instruction in a number of different ways. These skills have been invaluable in both my clinical career as well as the studio.
The physical skills I’ve developed as an Instructor have also helped me find ways of helping my patients when resources and space are limited. Taking a bunch of resources on the aircraft is challenging, which means I have to design treatment for patients without equipment. Instructing has given me a whole library of movements that I can incorporate into a program that not only achieve the desired goal, but also make the session more interesting. Who knew there were so many different ways to sneak in a lunge or squat?!
Dr Lisa Forrester, Australia, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist/ BODYCOMBAT™, BODYPUMP
During high school I thought I wanted to be a criminal lawyer but, as time went on, I realized I wanted to understand "why" people break the law, rather than just having an understanding of the law itself. When I finished high school, I started my Psychology degree – and just over 9 years later, I finished with a Bachelor of Behavior Science (Hons), with a double major in Psychology and Legal Studies, followed by a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I've now been practising as a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist for almost 20 years and I currently work in the Children's Court Clinic in Melbourne as Clinic Director.
Within the Criminal Division, we assess young offenders. These young people are sometimes in custody, and often present with difficult backgrounds characterized by trauma, family violence, substance use, mental health issues and/or behavioral issues, low levels of educational engagement, and a general disengagement from many parts of their community.
Within the Family Division, we undertake quite complex and comprehensive assessments of families who are involved with the Child Protection system due to allegations of abuse and neglect. Many of these families present with multiple issues of concern, including: family violence, parental mental health challenges, parental drug and alcohol use issues, trauma histories, poor parenting practices and poor relationships with services.
My day job can be confronting and emotionally draining, and I also spend quite a bit of time sitting at my computer. Being an Instructor provides a range of benefits that extend into my "day job". Firstly, it keeps me fit and healthy, and ensures that I keep myself physically active and feeling strong. Even on days that I don't teach, I train to make sure that I can keep up with my classes and look after my physical health. Another huge benefit of teaching is the impact upon my mental wellbeing. Whilst I spend much of my day considering quite serious issues and addressing some challenging topics, teaching allows me to loosen up and be a little silly. It's definitely a part of my stress management routine. I can take on a completely different persona, let go of the more difficult parts of my day, connect with people, sing and have some fun.
Being a psychologist helps me as an Instructor in a variety of ways. The obvious is the ability to connect and engage with the people in the room. I like to think that my training allows me to use different strategies to build relationships with my class members. I also think being a psychologist, and understanding the role that exercise can play in assisting both our physical and emotional wellbeing, allows me to talk about the benefits of exercise in different ways. Finally, I also understand that for some members, attending a class is as much about social connection and belonging as any other motivator, so I try to use my skills as a psychologist to cater to all the different personalities in class.
Kristen Joyal, US, TV Marketing Director/ RPM and LES MILLS SPRINT
I’ve been in television for more than 20 years. I worked my way up from nightside topical producer to dayside producer to senior producer and ultimately Creative Services Director/Marketing Director. I've worked all over the US, but I'm now based in Florida.
I became an Instructor to gain confidence with public speaking. Talking in front of more than 10 people made me nervous, but after becoming certified I found my voice and was able to motivate and instruct a class of 30. I learned how to speak emphatically and concisely. The floor coaching in SPRINT helped me with leading my team back in the office, approaching each person as an individual and catering to their motivators. I was also going through a divorce at the time and the strength gained in teaching SPRINT and RPM allowed me to find an outlet that was safe, empowering and exhilarating.
I've held a leadership role overseeing graphic artists, producers, photojournalists and editors for more than 12 years. Together, we write, shoot, and edit memorable marketing campaigns that promote the legacy NBC12 and ABC25 duopolies in Jacksonville, Florida. In essence, we drive newcomers to our platforms on air, online at Firstcoastnews.com and on First Coast News+ on Roku and Fire TV. My team has been nominated for three Emmy’s this year and several other marketing industry awards.
Teaching brings me joy. I never realized how much it brought to my life until the pandemic hit and I was unable to teach for a year. I worked hard every day during that time in my apartment cycling studio learning releases. While I still enjoyed the exercise, I missed the exhilaration of live classes, the camaraderie of being able to see the sweaty smiles and hearing how their health had improved.
I love the sense of community that comes with teaching. I've developed so many friendships across the years and miles with participants and Instructors. Some, I’ve only met online in Facebook chat groups from as far away as Australia, but hope to meet them in person one day.
Bec Wadlow, Australia, Engineer/ BODYBALANCE
I'm passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and breaking the mould for what a girl can do. I'm in a male-dominated industry and doing my best to change perceptions and be a role model for future female engineers.
I work for Cummins, a global design and manufacturer of diesel and new power engines, filtration and power generation products. I manage the specifications and configurations of all our products to ensure the smooth flow of products for our business. I also lead multiple projects across our engineering department to improve our processes and transform the business; I lead meetings for our entire Asia Pacific Engineering Team as well as being heavily involved in all our or STEM initiatives and community engagements.
Being an Instructor helps me in my day job in many ways, but the biggest one is communication. I need to be able to communicate with my team on our goals and requirements, as well as all the people I support through the entire business. Cummins supports the advocacy work I do and continuously provides opportunities for learning and growth. I’m given the opportunity to live my purposes, which is to create change, lead with authenticity, develop others to meet their career goals and be a role model for the future girls in STEM.
BODYBALANCE™ has also helped me to cope with stressful times at work, with its focus on using the breath. Part of the essence of yoga is to open up to ourselves and be present so that we can reach our potential and push our own boundaries. This has directly transferred into my day job, helping me to reach my full potential. BODYBALANCE has also provided the knowledge and understanding of the posture cues for proper alignment, as well as counter poses for those days where I am spending a lot of time sitting.
Roisin Drysdale, South Africa, Senior Researcher at a Reproductive Health and HIV institute/ RPM, BODYATTACK, BODYCOMBAT, BODYBALANCE
I moved to South Africa from the UK to do my Masters degree in Development Studies and never really had a plan on what to do next. I managed to find a job at a rural health research center at the University where I was studying as a research assistant, then I went on to do a PhD in Public Health focusing on child nutrition and food security. I'm now a senior researcher at a reproductive health and HIV institute.
Our company has a number of different research projects; the main one I am working on is called CATALYST. Along with colleagues in America, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda, we are looking at how we can offer newly-approved HIV prevention products, also known as PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), in public health facilities. These products include a daily tablet, a vaginal ring and a 2 monthly-injection; currently, only the tablet is widely available. I'm also the lead on other studies that are assessing whether lockdown negatively affected the growth and development of children born during the COVID-19 pandemic. My day consists of writing research grants, overseeing data collection, analyzing data, writing academic manuscripts and LOTS of project management.
My job is taxing on the brain. I spend all day focusing, reading and writing and it can get super stressful, especially when there are deadlines coming up. We're always thinking about our research outputs and answering to funders. Ask anyone working in academia and they'll tell you their brains are constantly frazzled. Teaching classes helps me completely shut off from work. I don't have to think about anything else other than focusing on the members. It allows me to take a break, release some stress, and get back to a good frame of mind. If it wasn't for my classes and the break they gave me, I don't know how I would have ever gotten through my PhD.
What I love about my day job is that it could make a difference. HIV is still a huge issue, but with these new prevention products, maybe, just maybe, HIV can be a thing of the past.