It takes many qualities to make it to the finals of the AUSActive National Awards and the Y’s bubbly Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre fitness instructor Margie, has them all in spades.
This week, the Team Leader, Health and Fitness from Taree heads off to Melbourne having been named a finalist for Group Exercise Leader of the Year.
As anyone who has attended a class run by Margie will tell you, her energy is contagious and she works hard to keep people engaged in class, something she missed during the pandemic.
“I love the connection I get with members,” said Margie when asked what she loves about being a group fitness instructor. “That’s what brings me back to ‘group’ all the time. I trained as a freestyle aerobics instructor back in the day and I tell my Pryme Aerobics class that we’re making patterns, colouring is as we go – they love the analogy,” she said.
“When COVID hit I felt like I was a bit lost without the group. I’m not sure who I am without group fitness, and I’d love to mentor more people in group fitness.
“I like to build a rapport. I walk in some days and say ‘what class is this?’ and they answer. If I see someone new, I make a point of saying hello to them into the microphone before seeing them when I have a gap. The members are very welcoming of new people too – there’s a real sense of community here.”
Margie’s desire to see people grow in confidence is as much of a driver as her love of fitness and she knows from her own journey the benefit of just showing up.
“I think everyone’s story is significant. I was once 120kg – a big girl. I didn’t want to go to a gym. I want people to feel that just walking through the door is an achievement. Our membership is an older demographic, but I work with younger people and even a 92-year-old who does our ‘Living Longer, Living Stronger’ program. There are varying fitness levels and the instructors are great at managing that.
“I’ve learned from my own journey to make fitness fun for everyone. I learned as a ‘baby’ instructor that it’s not about me, it’s all about them. People come here for social and mental support and I see the mental and physical benefits of that. There’s no judgement and it’s a fun environment to be in, we all bounce off each other. Fitness looks different on everyone.”
Asked about the awards this week, Margie says there’s been a lot of support.
“When I got told I was a finalist, I nearly died. The members are so stoked for me. Being nominated is important for my team and for me personally as an instructor for 12 years. The members are so involved in this – one is even taking my hem up for the dress I’m wearing to the ceremony. They think I’m going to walk away with the award. I think it’s great for the community and it puts Taree on the map a little bit.”
Good luck Margie. Either way, you’re a winner in our eyes.