Student Rec Instructors: Cultivating fitness at Vandy

Addison Glover and Sophie Acosta tell the story of switching the narrative and being students by day and teachers by night.

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Student Rec Instructors: Cultivating fitness at Vandy

Sophie Acosta and her class finish up a Vixen workout. (Photo courtesy Sophie Acosta)

Sophie Acosta and her class finish up a Vixen workout. (Photo courtesy Sophie Acosta)

Sophie Acosta and her class finish up a Vixen workout. (Photo courtesy Sophie Acosta)

Sophie Acosta and her class finish up a Vixen workout. (Photo courtesy Sophie Acosta)

Sarah Bellete and Sophie Price

No one likes going to the gym. Getting paid to teach your peers how to stay fit, though? That’s a different story. 

Vanderbilt’s Recreation and Wellness Center is one of the most popular places to work on campus with over 150 students employees, yet only six are student instructors. These instructors run hour-long classes ranging from yoga to pilates, zumba, dance, group cycling and more. 

Addison Glover: Barre classes with a focus on form and wellness

To student instructor Addison Glover, a junior at Vandy, teaching barre classes at the Rec is far more than just exercise. Her passion for being active has been a part of her identity for as long as she can remember. 

“I’ve always been an athlete. I grew-up playing soccer and I ran cross country, but yoga was something new,” Glover said. “It actually started when my mom got my family a month long Groupon at a yoga studio my sophomore year of high school, and I immediately loved it. It made me feel more muscular and toned.” 

The slower movements of yoga, barre and pilates were unlike the soccer and running Glover was so used to doing. The change of pace made an impact on her physical and her mental health. 

“I would get so anxious from running, and I was tired of the competition,” Glover said. “It was nice to get a workout that’s challenging but not stressful. I love getting stronger without my heart beating so fast.”

Glover has pursued her passion and received her instructor certification. To qualify to teach at the Rec, student instructors must have a certification from American Council on Exercise (ACE), Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACM) or a nationally recognized group fitness certification, in addition to CPR training. 

The instructor certification process can be lengthy and costly, ranging from about $1,200 to $1,300. The cost of the certification is structured around the earning potential after training, which can range from $50 to $75 per class. Fortunately for Glover, her home yoga studio was invested in helping her make the investment in order to become an instructor, which saved her hundreds of dollars and months of processing.  

“Vanderbilt is not easy, freshman year I spent most of my time studying or with friends and it was hard making the transition and carving out time for my Rec classes. I think it’s a good break though, it gives me time to reflect and think,” Glover said.

Glover teaches at the Rec on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., and is adding a 6 a.m. class next semester. She views her classes as being more instruction-based than mindset-based because of how important she believes form and technique are to developing strength.

“At Vanderbilt, a lot of students haven’t taken pilates classes, so I’m a big form person,” Glover said. “I’d rather it hurt more and be more effective, so I lean more towards instruction than the mindfulness aspect of yoga.”

Sophie Acosta: Zumba classes that emphasize empowerment and self-care 

Sophomore Sophie Acosta develops her own confidence and that of the students she teaches at her Rec classes. (Photo courtesy Sophie Acosta)       

Sophomore Sophie Acosta is a younger instructor who faces challenges of balancing her job along with having an active role on the Vanderbilt Dance Team and being pre-med. She said the tedious certification processes on top of her busy schedule were well worth the opportunity to be a dance instructor at the Rec. However, she admits that it took a lot of work to build up her self motivation and drive to become the charismatic instructor she is today.  

The beginning of her journey as a fitness instructor began when she worked as an intern for the Miami dance fitness company, Vixen, this summer. The internship led to a love for the fun workout, and a desire to become a class instructor at the company.

“I never envisioned myself becoming this invested in teaching. It is amazing how things have changed in a year,” Acosta said.

She describes her Vixen classes as “sexy zumba,” and class attendees are encouraged to come with makeup on and their hair down, unlike a typical dance workout experience. This confidence piece has played a large part in Acosta’s own fitness journey, as it fosters both personal growth and self-love. 

“Choreography has its own set of challenges. New dances can be hard to make, especially because the songs that are popular and people like often have the most difficult choreography,” Acosta said. 

An important piece of being an instructor for Acosta is that she gets to see first-hand the pride her attendees get from learning new moves.

“When people start learning the dances,  I can see their confidence and faith develop and that they are proud of themselves for learning. That’s my favorite part of the entire teaching process,” Acosta said. 

Since transitioning to Vanderbilt, teaching her Vixen-style classes has looked a little different. Balancing her life as both a busy student and instructor makes her class schedule less regular than at her home studio. Still, Acosta is enthusiastic about the future and the growth of her Vixen style workout at Vanderbilt and in the greater Nashville community.

“You will never know if you’ll like it until you try,” Acosta said, “Everyone started at step one, and has grown to where they are now.”

Acosta’s Instagram gives details on her class scheduling. To learn more about these students’ classes and support all of the other unique student-led workout options available at the Rec, check out their calendar.

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