Timid to toned: Becoming a TigerX instructor

TigerX instructors are also students, ready to help you achieve your fitness goals.

When your recreation center is considered the most luxurious in the country, it’s bound to be a little intimidating. Not including its outdoor facilities, the Student Recreation Complex is a three-story building that has everything from cardio machines to pools. With all those resources available, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to go about achieving your fitness goals. That’s where the TigerX instructors come in.

With headsets resembling those of popstars, instructors stand in front of one of TigerX’s many studios and yell out moves, instructions and words of encouragement. They teach different cycling, dance, yoga, cardio, strength and pilates classes, and they do it all with you.

It takes stamina to do what TigerX instructors do, but some of them started out as your typical Rec-goer.

Junior health sciences major Clare Gannon, now a TigerX instructor, started regularly visiting MizzouRec her freshman year. She didn’t know where to go or what to do, so she started taking TigerX classes.

“Gyms scare me,” Gannon said. “Big weight machines scare me. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. I like having direction and a group to workout within a structured setting. [TigerX] was upbeat and a lot of fun, so I liked doing it.”

Although every Mizzou student enrolled in seven or more credit hours during the fall and spring semesters and six or more credit hours in the summer automatically pays a Student Recreation Activity & Facility Fee and gets access to the recreation complex, TigerX classes cost extra. The price varies each year, but a semester membership last spring was $53 and a one-class pass was $9.

The cycling classes quickly became Gannon’s favorites, and she would end up riding two to three times a week. Henry Gentle, a junior marketing student, was also hooked by TigerX’s cycling classes, and now teaches them.

Gentle has been cycling almost all of his life, so when he first began visiting MizzouRec his freshman year, he was specifically looking for a spinning class. TigerX’s four different cycling classes are what got Gentle involved with the rest of the program.

“After taking the TigerX cycling classes and having good experiences with them, I branched and tried some of the other ones,” Gentle said. “I’ve done the weight classes and even a Zumba class once or twice.”

After a few years of attending classes, both Gannon and Gentle began looking for a way to take their cycling to the next level. Back home, Gentle began instructing his own spin class.

“It worked out that [my gym back home] needed someone that summer, and I really loved doing it,” Gentle said. “When I came back that fall, I thought, ‘Wow, I had such a good time. Maybe I could get paid to do it at Mizzou.’”

That’s exactly what he and Gannon did. Both were hired onto the TigerX team in April 2016, but the process wasn’t easy.

To begin the process, you have to attend a MizzouRec information session. From there, you fill out an application packet and hope to get an interview conducted by other Team Mizzou students. If selected for a second-round interview, you’ll perform a practical skills test and/or audition in front of current instructors and the program manager. To finish, you register as a new employee, attend one more departmental orientation and complete required certifications. You can complete your certifications after you’re hired, or you can do them before you apply. Overall, Gannon said the process took nearly the whole semester, but she said it was completely worth it.

Both Gentle and Gannon said the best part of being an instructor has been the relationships they’ve developed with their co-workers.

“They’re all really into [TigerX],” Gentle said. “We dedicate a lot of time to it, but it’s nice to have a community where we can share playlists or drills. When we hang out outside of work, it’s a great time.”

Gentle said his advice for students who get tired in class is simple: “Keep going.”

“There are times where I’ve pushed myself a little too hard at the beginning, and then I find it hard to speak into the microphone because I’m out of breath,” Gentle said. “You just scale your resistance back, try to keep up, and keep the energy up as well.”

Edited by Katherine White | kwhite@themaneater.com

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