Coley Lyon Leads the Pack in Group Fitness

Participants at University Recreation have a variety of different group fitness classes, from BODYPUMP™ to Cycling. If you have participated in these classes odds are you have noticed a familiar face at the front of the class.

That face belongs to Coley Lyon.

A Creedmoor, North Carolina native and senior double majoring in marketing and international studies, Coley teaches just about every group fitness class–that is, every class but yoga she notes with a small laugh. During our interview, it was easy to see why so many people enjoy Coley’s classes. Her bright and bubbly personality is obvious in every answer and her eloquence in answering showed how she can command a room.

It was this fun-loving personality that opened the door for Coley to teach Group Fitness. A ZUMBA® instructor noticed that she may have a knack for teaching fitness classes because she was “super expressive and perky.”  After some thought, she decided she should give teaching a shot. “It was really kind of an accident but it worked out well,” said Coley. She became an instructor in January 2015 and she has enjoyed being a part of University Recreation ever since.

Coley teaches strength and cardio classes primarily, but she finds that each of her classes attracts a different crowd. “They all have different vibes and they all have different types of people who want to come out and  accomplish different things,” said Coley. She explained that those who take a  BODYPUMP™ class are more focused on building and toning their muscles, while those who take Cardio Dance want a fun and carefree workout. “Cycling is the same way,” said Lyon. “People love spin. Spin people are spin people, they don’t really cross over.”

Teaching fitness classes does not come without its challenges. “Connecting through language barriers is a big challenge especially when we have such a diverse group like we do at NC State.”

To overcome these obstacles Coley focuses on nonverbal communication. Having patience and staying positive with her participants allows her to face these challenges head on and continue with her classes.

Of the classes she teaches, Cardio Dance is her favorite because “you get to watch other people break out of their shell in an hour-long class and really just get to enjoy themselves.” Seeing that growth and change is one of the most rewarding parts of teaching according to Coley. She is grateful to be a part of “transformations in people and see their journeys as they grow through their fitness lifestyle or whatever they’re doing and see how they change through time.”

In addition to her participant’s growth, Coley has grown herself. “You become more confident in who you are and less worried about what other people are gonna think about you. You can slip on your own sweat and fall down and it’s fine because nobody really cares and because they’re sweating too,” She has found that teaching has helped her become more self-aware and helped her strive to be a better version of herself.

It isn’t just those who attend her classes that appreciate her hard work, but those she works with as well. Last year Coley was the recipient of the award for group fitness instructor of the year, recognizing her for her contributions to University Recreation.  “She is ambitious, enthusiastic and always full of energy. Participants say that Coley always encourages you to do a little more than you think you can and that her friendly and engaging personality makes their day,” said Group Fitness Coordinator Leigh Krick, “What sets Coley apart from her peers is her unparalleled dedication to UREC.”

Fitness has always been a part of Coley’s life and she hopes to continue teaching upon her graduation this December. Overall, she hopes she can become certified in many group fitness formats so she can teach others who hope to become instructors. Luckily, she has a head start because she has already inspired those around her to become instructors. “Last spring, more than half of the individuals in our group fitness training program who aspired to be group fitness instructors were recruited or inspired by Coley,” said Krick.

Although she graduates soon, she has surely left her mark at University Recreation; whether it be through leading dances at the Moonlight Howl and Run or pushing her classes to be their best.  “She will be greatly missed and it will likely take three to five people to replace the amount of energy and time she has been putting into this program over the past two years,” said Krick.