When we learn something new, we open the door to opportunity. To grow in this industry, you must keep continual learning at the core of everything you do, writes industry educator and group fitness guru Marietta Mehanni.
When a comment on one of my recent social media posts mentioned the name of a fitness industry colleague that I hadn’t thought about for a long time, it brought the power of the word ‘learn’ vividly to mind. The name was Meredith King, and as my aqua coordinator at the Ivanhoe Aquatic Centre in the early 90’s, she was one of the first people that I worked for in this industry. As an instructor in my early 20’s, I was well aware that she knew a lot more about delivering great exercise experiences than I did, and to be honest, I was a little intimidated by her – while also respecting her enormously.
Meredith never missed a thing, and when she was on duty I could feel her gaze on me as I taught my aqua classes. I desperately hoped that she liked what she saw: it was important to me that she felt I was a competent instructor. So, the day that she came up to me to provide me with some feedback following a class, I was anxious.
‘Marietta, why don’t you teach anything in the deep water?’
‘I haven’t really done anything in the deep water before, Meredith’
I’m sure she said some other words, but that’s the one that made a huge impact on me. To this day, I hear it reverberating in my head every time I quietly say to myself ‘I don’t know how to do this’, or ‘This is really hard.’
Ten years later, I was asked by Jennifer Schembri-Portelli (affectionately known as JSP) to co-present with Meredith at an Aqua Summit that was the annual highlight of the Victorian aquatic industry. It had been several years since I had last had any real contact with Meredith, and here I was, being asked to present with her. Yes, I was much more knowledgeable and experienced now, but so was Meredith. JSP requested that I deliver a lecture, complete with PowerPoint presentation – something that I’d never previously done, as all my sessions to date had been practical.
‘Jenny, I can’t – I don’t know how to use PowerPoint and I’m about to go on holiday to Greece’.
‘How long’s the flight?’
‘It’s about a 24 hour transit’
‘Then you have time to learn’.
There was that word again – and in a context that highlighted how powerful it was in comparison to the weaker ones of ‘can’t’ and ‘don’t know’.
JSP and Meredith are women who greatly impacted my life and how I view challenges. I feel blessed to have benefited on numerous occasions from their very simple, yet very effective advice. Life changes can be instigated by some of the most simple, but powerful, words, and ‘learn’ is, unquestionably, one of these.
When you find yourself challenged by the need to do something you’ve not done before, remind yourself that you have the ability to do hard things. Through learning, you are capable of overcoming any obstacle you set your mind to. That’s what has got you to this point in your life. It will take you to the next.
How about learning with Marietta herself? Check out Enable – Inclusivity in the Industry
Monash ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Industry’ 2019 award winner and Australian Fitness Presenter 2018, throughout COVID Marietta Mehanni provided hundreds of free online live workouts. She is the international Master Trainer and Education Coordinator for Gymstick International Oy, co-founder of My Group Move and co-creator of mSwing, a fascia-based group fitness program.