Skip to main content

INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT ON… BERRY HUI YU LENG

by Les Mills Asia Pacific

berry
berry

“In my first four years of teaching, I had a full-time day job as well; but when I got enough classes to cover my expenses, I became a full-time freelance Instructor, which I did for almost six years. The best about being an Instructor is being paid to get my workout fix!”

“My first program was BODYCOMBAT; it was actually a 30th birthday gift I gave to myself. It was an impulsive decision, and definitely the biggest life-changing one that I ever made! BODYCOMBAT is my first love, and will forever be my favourite LES MILLS program – I’m so proud that I did it!”

“In my 20s, the clubs I visited were those with loud music, lots of alcohol and cigarettes in hands until 3am; back then, I used to spend money to worsen my health! At age 28, a doctor told me I’d need surgery to fix my sinus issues, or the alternative was to change my lifestyle. I decided to change the type of club I was visiting, to the gym. So, I made myself try new workouts, and BODYCOMBAT caught my attention; the loud music, and the punching and kicking for 55 minutes enabled me to release all my energy while also having fun. Despite not having much experience, after just a few classes, I enquired about becoming an Instructor. At the time, I didn’t know how many tracks were in a one-hour session, I had no idea about the difference between a side-kick or roundhouse kick, and the worst was that I didn’t have much stamina! So, on Day 3 of my Initial Module Training, I could barely walk, but I am very proud of myself for not giving up!

For me, my first teaching experience was extremely challenging because everything was so new to me, and it felt like everything was happening so fast! My stamina was still inadequate, and I was in the middle of quitting smoking (after having been a smoker for more than 10 years!); at that point in time, I couldn’t do a proper push-up, let alone be able to teach and memorise all the choreography!

I do miss that feeling of being so fresh and always feeling like I have something new to learn from the mentors. Our mentors – Cheng, Renee and Nina – were so encouraging of me and the other trainees who didn’t have much experience. They gave us so much of their time to teach us technique and coaching.

1

1

Berry pictured above, with Rachel Newsham and Dan Cohen

 

Ten years on, and today I place a certain expectation on myself as to how I coach, what ‘wow’ experiences I create for my members, how I want them to feel, and how I connect to them. The difference after gaining a decade of teaching experience, and the evolution of the program itself, means that things are a lot different to how they used to be. I’m grateful that I, too, have evolved along the way. It’s a journey that has been full of excitement, sweating, tears and sore muscles, but the things I gained have been far beyond my expectations. The people and members I’ve met along the way, and the experiences have all been amazing, and they all contribute to making me who I am today.

The COVID-19 lockdowns impacted us significantly, here in KL – mentally, physically and financially. As a freelance Instructor who gets paid per class and whose sole income is from teaching, I had to live from hand to mouth. In Malaysia, we had three long lockdowns in two years, and that meant that I had zero income during those times. Add to this, the worry of not knowing when we can work again, and it pretty much felt like I was living in a horror movie; it was dreadful. Physically, it was a drastic challenge to maintain my fitness; normally, I’d be doing 20 classes a week but when lockdowns hit, I had to just try my best to do whatever workout I could in my small rented 280-square-foot studio apartment. We weren’t even allowed to go running at the park or walking in public places during lockdowns, so this had a huge impact on my workout routine.

After the first five months of lockdown, my weight gain and stamina meant I could not easily complete a full class. However, once the gym opened, I began teaching whenever I could. After a few months however, we were hit with another lockdown which, this time, lasted two to three months. By the third lockdown, it felt a little easier to get through, even though this one lasted six months. During this time, I was notified that I’d won a spot in the new Online Initial Module Training program for RPM, which was the best news I’d had in a long time! During this third lockdown, we were allowed to exercise in our local area, so I began running 10km every day in preparation.

The RPM training was a huge achievement for me during the lockdown and I am so grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime! The training provided me with a huge boost – both mentally and physically. The Online Initial Module Training was such a great experience for me, and a completely new one, even after having completed three different programs already. What I liked most about the Online training format, was the convenience of participating from home. I got to eat and change my clothes even if the break time was short. Lillian, our trainer, was superb! She gave us constructive comments to improve our techniques just by observing us via Zoom. I was having timing problems, and at the last presentation I was able to correct myself thanks to Lilian’s feedback. By looking at the screen sharing info, we were also able to be more focused, and I was able to ask anything at any time throughout the Online training. At this uncertain time, Online Initial Module Training is a great option for anyone considering becoming a Les Mills Instructor, as it was safe, convenient and ran very efficiently.

In-Person IMT Day 3 after Day 1 and 2 of RPM Online IMT

In-Person IMT Day 3 after Day 1 and 2 of RPM Online IMT

Berry teaching a Virtual Class

Berry teaching a Virtual Class

My life changed tremendously when I became a Les Mills BODYCOMBAT Instructor. When I later started teaching SH’BAM, I got to see the smiles and enjoy a different vibe in these classes, where we would just dance and have fun! Every different program I’ve learned has expanded my knowledge. For example, with RPM, I now get to learn a new and different coaching technique to ensure members connect to their cycling experience. I still have a goal to teach LES MILLS TONE in the future, as I believe that’s one of the best programs where participants from all fitness levels can take part.

The members are always my biggest inspiration and the ‘why’ that keeps me going. If I can make a difference in someone’s life, why wouldn’t I? Whether it’s helping lift someone’s mood after a great workout, seeing a member achieve their fitness goal, or having them release their stress after a hectic day – whether the difference they experience is big or small, it all counts!

To anyone considering becoming a Les Mills Instructor, I say ‘Go for it – you will not regret it! Every little step is an achievement and to be enjoyed. Don’t delay – just believe in yourself to go for it!

7

​If you or someone you know has an inspiring or interesting Instructor journey, we'd love to hear about it. To share, simply email marketing@lesmills.com.au. Or if you're ready for your next Instructor challenge, then why not check out the Initial Module Training Schedule and sign up for your next program today?​