“Fitness keeps me young.”

Her energy is amazing, just like her fitness levels. With over 20 years of experience as a dance and indoor cycling instructor and several certificates in her pocket, Hüly talks about her approach to teaching classes and her responsibility as a trainer. She’s living proof that regular sport does not only keep you fit, balanced and happy, but young as well. Pic: privat

What does your training routine look like?

As a trainer I teach indoor cycling lessons for one hour every other Saturday. My own training sessions are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They are usually for strength training purposes, as this is the best way to stay fit in my opinion and to prevent the occasional back pain. The training routine usually starts with a 15-minute warm up, followed by exercises for my upper arms, back and finally for my shoulders. All in all it is roughly a 40-minute intense weight training. With the warm up it is about one hour.

I always dedicate my training to a certain area of my body and never do all areas on one day. Moreover, my routine is not that strict, so I can shape my workout according to my mood. Occasionally I skip a training or swap training day, but that’s no problem at all. What matters most is that it’s fun.

How did you get into sport and your specific routine?

It all started around the age of 26. I had been into dancing before; especially belly dancing and I did volleyball at school but never to the extent of a regular training. I wasn’t interested in going to the gym at all, nor did I have a specific workout routine. However, the moment you commit to a sport and your training, you can’t live without it anymore ;-).

What makes you do sports?

Most importantly to stay fit. Working out keeps me balanced, happy and it’s a lot of fun. I need the challenge and I love to constantly try new things.

You’re a trainer as well, how did you get into teaching?

It must have been about 1992 when I started to attend dance classes. My trainer saw my potential, so she encouraged me to become a teacher too, which I did. I started with a basic teacher training in 1997. From then on I constantly tried out new training routines and did further courses for different dance styles like Hip Hop, Latin, Soul, advanced aerobic-teacher trainings, jumping and indoor cycling, which I currently teach on Saturdays.

You could say, I’ve invested a lot of money in fitness, as you have to pay for the course yourself. Each module is about €300-400. I was lucky to get to know the director of Reebok Austria allowing me to attend the Reebok University. It all comes down to knowing people and your own ambition.

I also took part in several international conventions to teach outside Austria and to get to know international trainers from other countries. So I participated in workshops in Lanzarote for three years in a row where I was able to exchange knowledge with people from Switzerland, France and Germany.

Did the workout styles change at all over the time?

The names have changed, but the workouts are more or less the same. Be it Pilates or a basic aerobic workout. A training that was really popular in my early days was Sliding. Can anyone recall that J? You used special mats to glide on the floor. It may sound funny in a way, but it was an effective workout.

There are certainly fitness trends. Whilst some are more shortly lived others can persist for longer. Zumba for instance is a workout that really popular for a very long time, but it somehow lost its popularity. Others, like abs-thighs-bottom routines will persist forever I suppose. I also search on the Internet for new exercises, but that’s only for personal use.

How do you prepare for a lesson?

I’m very spontaneous. And with 20 years of experience I don’t need much preparation anymore to be honest. During the warm-up, I’ll have a closer look on the fitness level of my attendees. Then I adapt the intensity and difficulty of my workout accordingly. As for indoor cycling, I always include two ascending intervals in each session, but also ask people about their preferences. So it could be more of a strength training or short interval intensity sessions. If I feel they can go a bit further, I might add a third ascending interval. Generally speaking there are a lot of strength-based indoor cycling classes so I try to offer more interval-training classes.

I also train a local football club once week during winter. Their intensity is of course different to my Saturday indoor cycling classes. It’s an alternative training for them, focusing on legwork and strength. It’s a lot of fun as they engage 120 per cent and even sing along :-).

What’s your approach to teaching classes?

I always share my passion with others and want all my class-attendees to have a good time and to engage. There’s nothing worse for a trainer than people who are obviously not having fun. In my classes I always have a close look at the people in the back rows and help them to get the exercises right. That’s my responsibility as a trainer. I know how to do it correctly. My job is to teach my knowledge to the others.

Does music play an important role in indoor cycling or workouts in general?

Music makes all the difference. For me it’s very motivating. I even listen to music during weight lifting. It just keeps me going. Also for my classes I see music as an important tool to keep the group engaged. I like tribal-house or hip hop most. I’m lucky to have friends who are DJ’s as they pass their newest mixes on to me.

Did your training routine change with time?

The older I get, the more I try to focus on myself. Through dancing and all the fast movement I ruined parts of my spine and neck. I didn’t do any strengthening exercises back then which I regret a bit nowadays. I also feel the pain sometimes while sitting at my desk in the office. Luckily I have a good physiotherapist 😉

How do you stay motivated to keep going and not give up?

I always have my gym bag packed in my car, so there is no excuse. Of course there a days, where I’m not motivated, but you have to push through, as I’m always feeling better after a workout. I always try to get rid of all the negative thoughts and feelings while training, that’s my motivation.

Plus, women need to train much harder than men in order to build up muscles – that’s not fair 😉 I especially train triceps as I my main goal is to stay toned.

How does your training influence your daily life?

For me the question is rather how my job as a trainer influences my daily life, because I have an office job during the day and have worked as an instructor after work ever since. A few years ago I was so ambitious that I held up to 10 classes a week. Today I really have to keep an eye on myself though, and work out more for me personally. I love both my day job and being an instructor. I hope I will be able to have both of them for a few more years, as I’m already 48 years old and feel the consequences of my ambitious dance years 😉

48?! You look no older than 40 – tell us your secret 🙂

Both laughing

Sports and compassion. Fitness keeps me young. I also love having fun and want everyone around to have fun too. I’m a sociable person and love to interact with people. Meeting new people helps me to learn and broaden my horizon. Another passion is traveling. I love getting to know other cultures.

Do you focus on a specific goal while training?

You mean burning calories or running 5k? No, not at all. The fun factor is more important to me. Plus you have to accept that you’re not always able to keep the same level, depending on your mood. I even found out that I can give more and run faster when I’m sad as I battle my emotions and want to get rid of them. In my opinion sport is the perfect tool to get over a negative experience. Sport is beneficial for body, mind and soul.

Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?

No, not at all. I would describe myself as accessible and open minded, maybe that’s because of my Turkish roots.

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?

I find it absolutely amazing, when elderly people come to my classes. There was one woman, aged 73. She has attended my classes until recently. I felt really honored that she participated. Sport has the power of bringing people together. So many lonely people might benefit from participating in a group or community.
I suggest fitness-center should also offer coaching-session for their members. Getting a boost in self-confidence could help more overweight people to join classes. It’s especially important to inspire those people and show that even as an instructor you don’t need to be super slim yourself. I do really love to eat 🙂

In my dance lessons, I’ve always tried to teach people confidence by getting them out of their comfort zone. One exercise was for example catwalk training. People instantly teamed up with a partner, as no one dared to go on their own.

How can you as a trainer help with motivation?

As a trainer you can only show people the best way and be an inspiration. But they need to commit to it themselves. They need to be willing to engage. Everyone is responsible for their own body. But if you teach with passion and love people will remember and will come back.

And if all this is not your cup of tea, simply start with small walks for example.

What was your most memorable moment?

There have been so many.

I remember a little girl called Laura. I taught dance lessons for children at some point and Laura didn’t want to take part. She was really stubborn so I said to that she didn’t need to participate if she didn’t feel up for it. She then stood on the side and watched everyone dance and all of a sudden I could see her little feet starting to move. Then her arms joined and suddenly she was dancing among all the other children. This experience showed me that everything’s possible, if you only want too 🙂 Plus, I think it’s really important to encourage children to move and try various sports from an early age on.

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

Life without sport is unimaginable for me.

What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?

Dancing has always been my passion and it always will. It makes me happy from the inside out.

Your favourite motivational quote?

No pain, no gain. Might be very old, but still gold 😉

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