For me it came down to practicing with others what I learned about physical activity and exercise and having some early successes helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.
I remember teaching a Faculty Strength Training class as part of an internship I completed for my B.S. in Exercise & Sport Science. I was told by my professor and the Director of the Faculty Recreation Program that most of this class would be repeat participants who were pretty set in their ways about working out and quite disinterested in anything the “intern instructors” had to offer as far as knowledge or suggestions. At the beginning of the semester I had two faculty members who had not taken the class before and about 15 others who were long time repeat participants. I decided to let the repeats continue working out on their own (though they did have to complete a pre and post strength tests) and focus on the two who were new to Strength Training and help them get started.
I offered to have those interested run through a series of abdominal exercises at the end of each class and in the beginning it was only the two new members who participated. As the semester wore on more class members started joining in and by the end of the semester I not only had the entire class participating in the group exercises but those most reluctant to ask for help, try new exercises or otherwise ask questions were whom who wanted the most feedback and guidance.
My self confidence was raised even more so as one lady who had been running marathons for 30+ years and at the age of 55 or so had her best time ever on one she ran near the end of the semester, after following a personalized program I created for her. Another lady experienced in strength training for years but had developed some chronic shoulder issues – her pain went away after a few weeks of trying some helpful exercises I suggested and modifying her form on some others. Lastly I was able to convince one of the most stubborn and reluctant professors you could imagine make some changes on his lifting patterns and while he had some great physical improvements what was most amazing was his change in attitude, outlook and even the increase in his socialization with other participants; it was like comparing Grumpy Old Men to Mr. Rogers!
This class did a lot for my confidence and I think I’ve carried what I gained from that experience with me all these years, more than decade has passed and I still remember that class – it was a very rewarding experience I can say that it was the stepping point from merely having the book knowledge to applying that knowledge in a practical way to help others achieve their health and fitness goals and really make a difference in someone’s life.