Instructors are the beating heart of all THE MAX Challenge centers. They are the mentors, cheerleaders, coaches, and programmers behind every transformation. Of course, it takes a special kind of person to become an instructor, and oftentimes, that special kind of person is right within the member base. Countless members have made incredible transformations inside and out, but sometimes, when given an extra push, members can go from the inspired to the inspirational. They take the skills they learn on the mat, to the front of the class.
THE MAX recently had the opportunity to interview a few of the instructors, previously members, in their community. In the first part of this interview, they spoke with Basha, an instructor at THE MAX of Flemington, and Michael, an instructor at THE MAX of Ocean.
When did you first become a member of THE MAX, and what caused you to join?
BASHA – I joined THE MAX Challenge of Flemington in April 2019. I was asked to be a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding that August, and after having two kids in 2.5 years, I had gained a significant amount of weight and was feeling very unhappy about my body. I knew I wanted to feel good and look good on her wedding day. They had Facebook ads that I saw for two weeks, and I finally took the plunge.
MICHAEL – I became a member of THE MAX Challenge about four years ago. I was a gym goer and constant dieter all my life. My nephew was planning a destination wedding in Mexico, and the thought of me having to take my shirt off in public worried me. I had always been self-conscious of my body and had debilitating low self-esteem. It held me back most of my life. I was also a timid and closed-off person; I was most comfortable blending in and trying to be invisible.
So, I had read some Facebook ads about THE MAX and knew there was one right across the street from my gym. I went in on a Friday two weeks into the spring challenge to see what it was about. Even though I had gone to the gym for several years, I was never really an active person. I would go just to say I went and didn’t put in that much effort. I spoke to someone about possibly joining [THE MAX]. There was no class going on at the time, so I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I thought about it over the weekend, discussing it with my now husband Raymond about whether or not it was something I would be able to do. I was terrified that I would make a fool of myself and that I would be judged on my size and my lack of athleticism. My first time on the mats, I was so self-conscious that I felt like people were watching me and judging me.
During the warm-up and the stretch, I got such a warm welcome from so many members and the instructor. My insecurities slowly faded away, and I had an incredible workout, with some delightful conversation afterward. Days went by during my first two weeks, and without realizing it, I had dropped 15 lbs. As the weeks went on, I gained a better understanding of
fitness and nutrition. My first instructor, Chris, was absolutely amazing. Not only in guiding us through that portion of our journey but challenging us and cheering us on.
I realized as time went on that THE MAX was more than just fitness for the body, but also the mind and soul. With my MAX fam’s support, Hazlet, and now, Ocean, I am the most confident I’ve ever been, and I never doubt my self-worth. People who know me prior to THE MAX challenge are amazed by my transformation. I now take on challenges without hesitation, accept myself for who I am, and finally can look at that person in the mirror and love myself.
What is your favorite part of being an instructor? The most challenging?
BASHA – My favorite part of being an instructor is creating the lesson plans and watching the members change drastically in 10 short weeks. Making plans lets me get creative, helps me grow my knowledge, challenges me, and excites me. Sometimes when I’m writing the plans I literally sit at my computer and clap because I am so excited about what I just wrote.
Watching a brand-new member from day 1 to day 50 is truly a beautiful thing. You notice non-scale victories like a member going from stepping out a jumping jack to hopping them out, and that sets my soul on fire. It’s brought me to happy tears witnessing those changes in how the members move week to week. The most challenging thing about being an instructor is when you first start; you have so many things to juggle, the timing during rounds, your music, watching form, remembering what’s next on the plan, keeping the class engaging and motivating. The power talk was the most intimidating part for me, but over time I got more comfortable!
MICHAEL – My favorite part of being an instructor (I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I say that) is that I get to be part of everyone’s journey from a different perspective. To help someone believe in themselves and push themselves makes me so happy. Everyone has it in them to be the best version of themselves; I know what the instructors have done for me as far as helping with my lack of confidence. The most challenging for me would still be that slight lack of confidence. I go into each class, hoping to give them the best 45 minutes possible. I think in this respect, my lack of confidence comes in handy. I push myself with each class and give it my all every time.
Do you have a favorite member transformation to date?
BASHA – One of my favorite transformations was a new member who joined my 4:45 PM class. She came to our Kickoff class but sat and watched to see what it was all about. Then, she stayed for kickoff and listened to what the program was all about. She was joining because she had an upcoming knee replacement surgery, and she wanted to lose some weight and get her body strong for her new knee. Unfortunately, she had some movement limitations with her bad knee, but that NEVER stopped her from coming.
She radiated in class; she always came in with a smile, always asked everyone how they were, and stuck through her 45 minutes. Her transformation from week to week was noticeable to not only me but to members. I found myself talking about her to my family and friends. She was driven! The pandemic held back her surgery a bit, but that didn’t derail her…she stuck to her workouts from zoom with us. I became invested in her life; I asked for her brother’s number to get updates after her surgery, I put together a video montage of all her MAX Friends wishing her a speedy recovery. Bobbie recovered quickly and didn’t have to attend all her PT sessions; the doctor was super impressed with the strength she had built up over the months. She is a true MAXer, working out, sticking to nutrition, and having that MAX spirit in her. I am beyond proud of how much she accomplished and can’t wait to have her back!
MICHAEL – I’ve been a member for over four years and have seen some pretty amazing transformations. Not only do you see physical changes in these members, but their overall character changes. They smile more, are more sociable, and walk into the center, head up facing forward. Being a member in both Hazlet and Ocean, I’ve had so many people crush every workout and every challenge. A few pop in my head, from Hazlet, my friend and workout motivator, Taylor. She pushes me beyond what I think I can do when we are in class. But, with her hit-it’s and love for burpees, I do my best to keep up. From Ocean, we have Angela, Kimberly, and AnneMarie. I have worked alongside these ladies and have watched them transform physically and how they approach working out. I have seen them from the beginning of their journey to where they are today, and it is nothing short of incredible. Not to mention they are driving forces in their classes, cheering on their fellow MAXers and motivating those around them. It’s transformations like these and so many others that make me passionate about my MAX family and the community we exist in. It works on so many levels for so many different types of people.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming an instructor with THE MAX?
BASHA – Take the leap and do it. It is the most rewarding job ever; it’s fun, you grow so much as an individual from this job. Watching lives change because of your push and your encouragement is an incredible feeling. When a member tells you, “because of you, I was able to hold a 1-minute plank” or “because of you, I no longer need my blood pressure medicine,” It warms your heart. I do it for the members; I want to be a better instructor for them. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and you will grow.
MICHAEL – Do it!!! I still have some anxiety before each class, but afterward, I feel amazing. It’s definitely something totally outside my comfort zone. I tell people all the time; you never know who you’re doing jumping jacks next to. We all have a story, a “why,” that brought us to that center and that class time. Be part of their journey and let them be part of yours. I’d also like to add that since joining THE MAX Challenge over four years ago, I have not only gained a better perspective of myself, I’ve gained an extension of my family that will be with me forever. A huge thank you and lots of love to my MAX family from Hazlet and Ocean. Thank you, Marc, and my Hazlet family. Thank you, Pamela and my Ocean family. Thank you, Pam, for believing in me more than I believed in myself. I’m truly blessed to have the support and love of my MAX family. See you on the mats!
Basha and Michael are invaluable assets to their community and have positively impacted so many lives; their knowledge and enthusiasm take them to the next level. THE MAX’s invested instructors are just one of the many factors that set them apart from other boutique fitness centers or big-box gyms. To anyone interested in becoming an instructor for THE MAX Challenge, you are encouraged to reach out to your home center, or email email@example.com. It may be the next step towards something incredible!