CAC Instructors Bare All: What Do You Love About Your Job?

If you’ve read even a handful of my blog posts, you’ll know that I’m not just a gym rat, but also a fitness class junkie. Over the past several years, I’ve grown to appreciate so much the hard work and guidance of the Chicago Athletic Club instructors. Without their help and encouragement, my workouts would be pitiful and dull — and definitely not as effective.
Even though I sometimes curse the instructors in my head, I keep coming back for more. And even though I only see some of them an hour a week, I feel like they know me. They ask me how my vacation was when I’m gone, how my injuries are healing when I have to take time off, and make time to chat with me when they see me around the clubs.

Which got me thinking that I’d like to know more about them. And I thought the other members might want to better get to know our instructors as well.

So I asked them. And oh man! What I blown away by how many — many of whom I’ve never even met or taken class with — were willing to open up and tell me all about their journeys to becoming fitness instructors, what they love about their jobs and even their most embarrassing moments! In fact, I received so many responses from more than 30 instructors that I’ll have to break this down into a series.

So without further ado, let’s start with what motivates the CAC Instructors. I asked them: What do you love about your job? Here’s what they had to say.

Krissy Cox

Teaches at: WAC, LVAC, LSAC
I LOVE helping people! I love when I can answer people's questions and give them something more than a great workout… knowledge about what they are doing and why, how their body moves, and the never-ending list of benefits to exercise and staying healthy.
I love that I get to provide people with an outlet that can better their health and quality of life.

Paige WorthyPaige Worthy

Teaches at: BAC
I love being part of the CAC family, and having my member to instructor transition as part of my story. I love the balance teaching offers to the rest of my day, which I spend behind a desk writing and taking care of marketing clients. The discounts on gear at Athleta and Lululemon don't hurt either.

Stephanie FravelStephanie Fravel

Teaches at: WAC, WPAC, and BAC but also LPAC and LSAC
Each day feels brand new.

Ken CoxKen Cox

Teaches at: LSAC and LVAC; I also sub many classes, including EAC
I love sharing the path of yoga with our members. I can see faces light up when I share yogic concepts like: "Suffering is defined as anytime we want reality to be other than it is," and "The past and future are only mental forms and can only exist inside our minds. The present is the only place we can be and, in fact, it is the only place our lives unfold. You can learn to stay present by practicing it on your yoga mat."

Andrea MetcalfAndrea Metcalf

Teaches at: Bucktown, Lincoln Park, West Loop, Wicker Park
I am blessed to be in this industry for more than 30 years teaching group fitness, personal training and inspiring people to move. I love learning new research and techniques and sharing that with whomever will listen. I would teach classes for free. After teaching 25+ classes for 25 years and then stopping to write a book, I realized what I love most about fitness is teaching... seeing people light up when they work hard... and watching their bodies change with confidence.

Lindsay WielgolewskiLindsay W.

Teaches at: LVAC
The members at CAC are the BEST part of working there -- seriously. It's such an amazing community of people who want to learn and grow. When I'm teaching, there's nothing better than looking at those sweaty, smiling faces working their tails off! THEIR energy and dedication inspire ME to work harder.

Michael BokorMichael Bokor

Teaches at: LPAC, WAC, WAC, LSAC, WPAC
I love sharing my passion for a healthy lifestyle. When members thank you for a good class and tell you how your class has impacted their lives — nothing is more rewarding.

Kelley LongKelley Long

Teaches at: WPAC and WAC
The favorite part of my job as an instructor is the privilege of leading members through a fun, effective workout — making it less like work and more like something they are happy to be doing. I feel the same way about my "day job" as a financial planner providing unbiased guidance on money to everyday people — making financial success something that is positive instead of something that feels like work or pain.

Sharon UslanSharon Uslan

Teaches at: LPAC and BAC
I love the members! Chicago Athletic Clubs has the greatest group in all of Chicago. It keeps me motivated to do a good job for them.

Gina SakaGina Saka

Teaches at: LSAC
A lot! I love that I am helping people connect to their bodies and get a deeper awareness of themselves. I love that I am helping people really connect to their breath and reduce their stress levels. I love that my job helps people feel good and healthy and empowered.
I love that I get to meet new people in almost every class and be inspired by my students dedication. Mostly, I love looking up at the end of class to see the visible shift in people. I love the sense of community the students have with each other and staff.

Katie DuffyKatie Duffy

Teaches at: LVAC, LPAC, WAC
I love watching members improve with their fitness goals and live a healthy life. It's amazing to know that I impact the members just as much as they impact my life. My job gives me a happy healthy heart!

web_Jaclyn HuggJaclyn Hugg

Teaches at: LPAC
Teaching group fitness is such a departure from what I do at my full-time job (in higher education), that I just appreciate having the opportunity to do something I am equally as passionate about on the weekends. I enjoy getting to know members over time. It is my pleasure to help motivate and encourage them and their health/fitness goals.

Nikki SchultzNikki Schultz

Teaches at: WPAC
What do I love about my job? It is one of the only places that drives people together to work on the common goal of improving their quality of life. Each person that walks into class took the time to tell the rest of the world, "HOLD ON, THIS TIME IS FOR ME!" Regardless if the goal be running faster, getting leaner, or getting stronger all of these people are working on SELF EMPOWERMENT… and that is pretty powerful stuff!

web_Susanna Kalnes Headshot 2014 - 1Susanna Kalnes

Teaches at: West Loop Athletic Club
Getting people excited about fitness! I try to make each of my classes feel like a party, so not only is everyone getting a great workout, but they are actually having FUN while doing it! Their excitement leads to new friends, breaking fitness plateaus, and discovering a newfound passion for getting in shape. It's the best!

Mandy YuilleMandy Yuille

Teaches at: LPAC
What I love most about teaching group fitness is 1: the clients. Compared to my previous job as an elementary school teacher I find the students slightly better at following directions and much more forgiving when I accidentally curse. 2: Dealing endorphins.

Suzy CrawfordSuzy Crawford

Teaches at: Evanston
I love the students in class, the friends I have made. I love the commitment these people make week in and out. They inspire me! I also appreciate the flexibility I have with my schedule.

Sara KempnerSara Kempner

Teaches at: BAC, LVAC
I love hearing from members about how much they love the classes.

Jenna Reddington- trainerJenna Reddington

Teaches at: WAC, WPAC, BAC
It sounds cliché, but I love being the person who motivates people to change. It was the best feeling when a student of mine came up to me in TRX and said that that class was a driving force in him losing 30 lbs over the last year. Nothing makes me happier.

David AllenDavid Allen

Teaches at: WAC, BAC, LPAC, LSAC
Every time I come to class, I get to help people improve their lives, make themselves healthier. I also get to meet some really amazing people, both my fellow instructors and the people who attend my class.

Dahlia FlakusDahlia Flakus

Teaches at: LPAC
I love promoting a healthy lifestyle and strive to make the women in my class feel empowered and strong. It's a great feeling to hear after a class is over how much better someone feels than when they came in.

Angelica ColantuoniAngelica Colantuoni

Teaches at: WPAC, LSAC
I love motivating and inspiring students and getting to know students.

Mandy Goode

Teaches at: BAC, WPAC
I love helping people! It makes me so happy when members tell me the ways my class affects them, and how much they appreciate my teaching style. I am lucky to do what I do for a living.

Ashlee WozniakAshlee Wozniak

Teaches at: LPAC, LSAC
Teaching is like therapy for me. No matter what's going on in my life, I know I can take an hour out of my day and spend it with people who are just as passionate as me about fitness. I love making people feel good about themselves and I love getting in front of a group and being a different version of myself for a bit!

Erica MerrillErica Merrill

Teaches at: LPAC, LSAC, WAC
I love getting to share something that benefits people in so many different ways. It is truly rewarding to watch students/friends change and grow from the practice, and most importantly, laugh!

Kimberly MichaelsonKimberly Michaelson

Teaches at: EAC, LSAC, LVAC
I absolutely love being a CAC instructor. When I’m teaching, it is the best, most magical part of my day. I love preparing for classes, I love the equipment I carry around in my “kit,” I love the members of CAC and your smiling (sometimes grimacing, sometimes eyes rolled) faces.
Most importantly, I love that my classes feel like a team practice — we're all in it together, everyone is bringing their best abilities, everyone is working really hard and most importantly, we're all having fun. The fact that I get to be part of the fun part of everyone's day is literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. Some people might mock me, but when everybody yells out WOOOOOO!!!, I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose in life.

Cheryl NormanCheryl Norman

Teaches at: BAC, WPAC
There are a couple things that I really love. First, I love that teaching group fitness classes is not a job for me. I get to have fun with other people while we break a sweat. More importantly, I love that I get to see people do more than they thought they could. Occasionally, people will tell me flat out they don't like me while we are doing something, but afterward they will say thanks for pushing them. Seeing that progress people make in getting stronger and fitter is amazing.

Secily ShambaughSecily Shambaugh

Teaches at: LSAC, LPAC, WPAC
It is fun :) No matter how bad someone's day is they come to a group fitness class and leave in a better mood!

Donna Verive- trainerDonna Walker

Teaches at: LVAC and LPAC
I get to motivate and inspire our members to be the best versions of themselves.

Meg MattssonMeg Mattsson

Teaches at: LPAC and LSAC
It's active! Guiding members on their fitness journey. One member noticed her arm strength increasing and could see waist definition where there was little before. Another member said water workout gave her confidence to try other classes.
Other pluses: seeing people's camaraderie in the pool. Especially in winter, going into what feels like a tropical environment (humid and warm) when it's below freezing with drifting snow and ice outside :)

web_David HardinDavid Hardin

Teaches at: WAC
I love that I get to make a real impact on people's lives. It's the greatest feeling in the world when a client says they are pain-free for the first time in years or that they are off all medications due to their improved health from our training. It's nice to see clients lose 5-10 lbs., but it's a game changer when their daily lives are dramatically improved by achieving better health

Paul T. Rykiel

Teaches at: LVAC, LSAC, WPAC, BAC
I love helping people reach their potential. Helping them forget about day-to-day struggles for a while and do something to help them relax and have fun!!

Gloria ArayaGloria Araya

Teaches at: LVAC
I love to see people thriving. My motto is, "If I can do it, you can do it too.” This comes from a deep belief in the inner ability and capacity of others.
I have witnessed, year after year, how people can grow and change if they believe in themselves. Dancing is a very powerful tool to use to facilitate the process of change in people while at the same time bringing out the best in them.


betsy picBetsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter whose passion is telling the stories of entrepreneurs, brands and businesses that challenge the status quo. When she’s not biking or running all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym |