Josie Gardiner, the 2002 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, believes that exercise offers hope and can help people “get their lives together.” Josie, a cancer survivor, has harnessed her experience to help develop customized programs for breast cancer survivors. Her ultimate goal is to create complete programs for all types of cancer and rehabilitation purposes. Get to know Josie as she offers tips and strategies you can use to Inspire the World to Fitness.

What is your favorite
music mix? Why?

“Rep Reebok Package, Vol. 1”*. The CD is designed for strength training class and has a whistle that cues you into position and another that cues you to start. The music is perfectly mixed in 32 counts, and every song is great. The package includes a video that demonstrates the suggested strength training program. It’s a lot of fun and provides instructors with a new, safe and effective program.

What sources do you tap
for new ideas?

I find a lot of inspiration taking classes at fitness conventions. I also brainstorm new program ideas with my good friend Joy Prouty. It’s wonderful to have a close friend in the industry. We share a synergy that lets us both grow professionally.

How do you teach to a
multilevel class?

The most important thing to remember is that everyone wants to be successful and it is your job to make that happen. I always introduce myself, give a verbal preview of the class and encourage newcomers
to stand in a spot where they can see me. I usually recommend they stand in the back row or in the middle; that way they always have someone to follow and can take a break without disrupting the class.

I also demonstrate a “level one” and
a “level two” exercise, allowing the participants to choose what’s right for them. I watch my students and ask how they are doing. I encourage them to go at their own pace, listen to their bodies, and stop and rest if necessary. It’s important that they know you care about their success and want them to have fun!

What was the smartest thing
you did to grow your career?

I changed my attitude. I finally realized the benefits of becoming part of a team and learning from my peers. I stopped being so critical of others and focused my energy on positive projects. A positive attitude will bring a positive outcome.

What is your favorite cool-down?

I love to cool down with relaxing music, low lights and a total-body stretch. I use a stretch strap to enhance the experience and I cue slow, rhythmic breathing. To me, this is a treat after a hard workout.

Who is your most inspiring
class participant?

Janet Snow. She is 93 years old and
drives herself to class, even in storms! She has been exercising with me for 17 years and is living proof that exercise
is the fountain of youth.

How do you avoid injuries?

I believe that moderation is the key to avoiding injuries. I listen to my body, cross train and am not afraid to take a day off. My week looks like this: Monday I teach strength training, step, “Senior Lite” and an easy low-impact class. Tuesday I walk for 45 minutes. Wednesday I teach “Step and Sculpt.” Thursday I walk. Friday I teach stretch class and walk. Saturday and Sunday I walk.

What advice do you have
for new exercisers?

Remember that anything you do is better than nothing. Find a trainer, a fun class with a qualified, certified instructor or a great video. Listen to your body. If an exercise feels weird, it probably is. Adjust your body position and stop if it still feels weird or hurts. Pay attention to your form, and focus on quality of movement rather than quantity. I think that many who are new to exercise do too much at first or they take a class that is too hard and become frustrated. Start slow and make fitness a part of your routine.