Belief determines destiny:
developing your instructor mindset

Are you just an ‘instructor’ or something more? By changing the way you think about yourself you can change your personal and professional success, writes Leanne Sklavenitis.

We all lead such busy lives these days (especially as group exercise instructors – with many of us having more than one job). Throughout each day our minds process countless thoughts and beliefs.  Take some time out to stop and think: what beliefs do you have about you? What is your mindset? Are you a positive or negative thinker, or somewhere in-between? Do you come up with excuses or bad habits, or does your desire and determination to get something done win through?

Your beliefs and mindset will determine how successful you are. We tell our participants and clients about the importance of eating well and exercising regularly, but if they have a negative mindset and low self-esteem then self-sabotage can creep in and stop them from achieving their goals.

Do you agree with these statements?

  • Positive people are more successful!
  • "Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will." Zig Ziglar
  • You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind!

The way you think will influence everything in your life: how you feel and how you act. Your mindset holds the key to your level of self-esteem, confidence, your vision and even your creativity.

Top tips to a successful mindset

1. Have a vision/life purpose

You are far more than just ‘an instructor’. Take a quiet moment to consider what your vision and life purpose are. Are you fulfilling them? I’ve been in the fitness industry for 25 years, and though I still personal train clients and teach group fitness classes I am living my life purpose.

Here’s my life purpose: I assist people worldwide in getting fit, healthy and successful. I transform peoples’ minds, bodies and businesses to achieve ultimate success.

Here’s a great exercise to help you gain some clarity about your life purpose. Write down 80 to 100 things that you want to do in your life generally and look at them carefully. Which of these relate to what you do? What specific activities are you doing – or should you be doing – to work towards achieving that?

Once you’ve written your vision and life purpose it is important to be clear about this and set some goals for what you want to achieve. A great way to do this is to break down your goals through a vision board or affirmation cards, or both.

Affirmation cards
Affirmations help you to build self-confidence. By basing your affirmations on clear facts you begin to reverse any damage you may have had from negative thinking. Your affirmations need to be strong and specific and expressed in the present tense. They aren’t about ‘I wish’ or ‘I hope’, they are statements such as ‘I am ready to deliver a great BODYPUMP class full of energy this morning’. The affirmations need to be repeated regularly, at least a few times a day, in order to help you visualise and believe in what you want to do. They should also be credible and realistic.

The use of positive affirmations can successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions. Think of affirmations like exercising. We need to repeat an exercise to get better at it, the same applies to your mind: the more you repeat positive statements over and over, the more positive you will become.

Vision boards
A vision board is a showcase of the life you want to be leading. Find pictures of what your life will look like or is looking like – the places you want to travel, and the work that you love and put them on a poster board. You can get creative and put words and images that are accurate expressions of the things that drive you every day.

Place your board somewhere where you can see it several times a day and even spend a few moments visualising what it would be like to be living in the life you envision.

Remember: you can’t reach a place that you don’t believe exists, so get cracking on your board and affirmation cards and allow your mind to believe that anything is possible!

2. Spread the positive attitude – it is contagious and infectious

It’s great to be known as the happiest person around, no matter where you go – the gym, the shops, your local café, anywhere. Smile, smile, smile, be courteous and acknowledge people. Remember the names of as many people as you can that you meet. Go the extra mile! It certainly pays off, and over the years has brought more clients to me and more people to my classes. People will want to be with you, talk to you, workout with you and tap into your positive attitude.

3. Recognise and transform negative thinking

If you doubt your confidence or ability, start paying attention to when you have these thoughts. You may not even realise that you are thinking negatively. Challenge your negative thoughts with rational thinking, and take the emotion out of the situation. Can you find a positive opportunity out of a negative situation? It can be challenging, but there is always a positive.

Other techniques include listening to inspirational talks and music in the car or when working out. Watch and listen to motivational and personal development presentations, such as on You Tube or TED talks in your spare time. Forget the newspapers and TV – find positive motivation via music and talks and watch your spirits fly. Meditation on a daily basis is also a great tool for changing negative thinking.

4. Who inspires you?

Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people – get to know them and how they live. Find out how they go about their day and how they operate. Observe the best instructors that you know – what are they doing differently to you? Who is your mentor, and who is successful in what they are doing?

We can’t eliminate negative people from our lives (not without being entirely heartless!), but the fewer naysayers you surround yourself with, the better off you will be.

By following any or all of the above advice you will set yourself on the path to achieving a better mindset and more success in everything you do.


Leanne Sklavenitis is a fitness professional and business coach. She has presented at conferences worldwide and is the author of three books. leannesklavenitis.com