Susan Dyson explains how she became HiitGirl
With work stress accounting for 40% of all work-related illness (Labour Force Survey 2011-12) and what seems like a new study every day on the dangers of sedentary lifestyles, are the jobs we do to make a living actually killing us? In a series of articles exploring careers within the fitness industry HealthGauge speaks to fitness instructor and creator of the Hiitgirl workout Susan Dyson.
• How did you get into the fitness industry?
“After taking a break from competitive swimming, I went along to a local keep fit class (before it was even called aerobics) and was hooked after the first session. I qualified as an instructor in the UK and then I packed my bags and went to Sydney, Australia where I launched my career in the fitness industry. It wasn’t long before I landed my dream job, on Aerobics Oz Style, the most popular fitness TV show of the time.”
• Why did you decide to develop your own fitness class?
“Like many of my girlfriends, I was getting bored of the typical gym workout and the hour long classes which took up too much of my time. As a busy mum to two children, I wanted the best workout in the shortest possible time – was this too much to ask? I was lucky enough to have my own studio where I could try out ideas and get feedback from an amazing group of friends, so we created a class that suited our busy lifestyles and gave us the workout we wanted but couldn’t find elsewhere.”
• Why did you decide to licence the programme?
“We had such an amazing reaction from the women who tried Hiitgirl. They were telling their friends and we were receiving requests from all over the country from trainers who wanted to run Hiitgirl classes where they were. We also spoke to a lot of female trainers who liked the autonomy of being their own boss, but wanted to belong to a fitness network for women. We found that most trainers were good at working with clients, but they rarely had the time or resource to develop the content and business side. We have a business support package for the licensees which means they do what they’re good at and we help them with the rest.”
• What qualities do you think make a good class instructor?
“A good class instructor is energetic, positive, caring, professional and passionate. But the most important factor is empathy. Starting and sticking with exercise is a big deal for many women and they need to feel that their trainer has a genuine interest in them and will invest in their success.”
• What are the best and worst parts of your working day?
“The best part of the working day is interacting with the Hiitgirl community. Listening to how their body confidence has improved and how they’ve achieved something they never thought they’d ever be able to do, like a full press up. I love taking the Hiitgirl sessions as I can get a real insight to how the training is working and what needs to be improved. I also like mentoring our Hiitgirl licensees and helping them grow their own businesses. On the side, as is the case most days, if I’ve been busy in the studio teaching lots of classes, I struggle to focus on the boring admin tasks than need to be done.”
• Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about setting up their own fitness business?
“There are lots of fitness brands popping up everywhere and it’s a very exciting time for the industry. You need to make sure you are in the fitness industry for the right reasons and that you are prepared to put the needs of the customer first and foremost. Having a knowledge or a passion for fitness is great but if you can’t execute and deliver a consistently fantastic experience, you won’t be around in the long term.”