Health & Fitness

Michele Morris, A Cornerstone of Dallas Fitness, Reflects On the Scene She’s Leaving

Before she decamps for Los Angeles, we caught up with the popular instructor.

If you participate in Dallas’ boutique fitness scene, you’re probably partial to a particular instructor or two. You might even find yourself going to bat for them from time to time. Maybe you prefer the cheerleader type to lead you through a workout, while your friend loathes a procession of platitudes. Mismatched music preferences can all but ruin the studio experience. (I accidentally signed up for an all-country SoulCycle class once and I swear my spinning ability suffered.)

But if there was one instructor that everyone seemed to agree on, it was Michele Morris. My first intro to the pint-sized powerhouse was in a spin class at The Joule’s Vital Fitness Studio. After the workout, we all agreed: Michele was solid. Then I signed up for her class at Session Pilates, where the consensus was much the same. No matter how good the studio, an instructor can make or break the experience, but Michele was consistent. If you went to her class, the workout quality was practically a guarantee.

Eventually, national spin studio Cyclebar came to town and snapped her up. She was also recruited to be one of the founding five Dallas instructors when cult-favorite Barry’s Bootcamp finally came to town last year. In 2018, she was teaching 17 classes a week at Barry’s, Cyclebar, and Session Pilates — all very different studios teaching totally different workouts.

Unfortunately for us, Los Angeles’ fitness community took notice as well, and has lured one of our best instructors away to be a full-time Barry’s Bootcamp instructor in California.

This week marks Michele’s last week teaching in Dallas. My coworker Matt, also a Michele fan, even had to deal with a waitlist just to take her second-to-last spin class. (He did eventually get in.) Before she leaves us to teach the Kim Kardashians and Jake Gyllenhaals of the world, we caught up with Michele for her thoughts on the evolving Dallas fitness scene and her advice for aspiring instructors.

We know you got your degree in Exercise Science and Fitness Management, but how did you end up moving to Dallas? 

No lie, it was similar to how this whole LA gig came about. I decided to move here on a whim and just packed up my stuff. I grew up outside of Houston, so I knew I wanted to stay in Texas after college. Dallas had always had good vibes for me. I semi-knew one person, had a tiny apartment with no furniture and no job and just decided to take a lot of fitness classes to fill the time and then voilà!

How long have you been an instructor here?

It’s been three-and-a-half years! My first instructor job was with Lync Cycling at the Plano and Dallas locations. Shout out to Kelsey Howard for giving me my start in this crazy industry.

How would you say our city’s fitness community has evolved over the last few years?

When I first started, it was very easy to see that Dallas was a “trend city.” We tried to follow the LA/New York restaurant and club vibes, so naturally, when the fitness boom started in those cities, it eventually made its way here. The best part of the evolution is that it bred so many amazing, locally-owned businesses where instructors could get their start. Now with more well-known or corporate studios coming in in (SoulCycle, Barry’s, Rise Nation), it allows instructors to make fitness their full-time job rather than just a side hustle.

Some instructors might teach at two different studios, but you taught three very different kinds of classes at three completely different studios. Was that your goal, or did those things just fall into place? 

Things definitely fell into place that way. I tend to go where my body wants to go, so if I try a new workout and I like the way it feels for my body, I want to learn more about it. Then I somehow end up teaching it.

What advice do you have for aspiring instructors?

  1. Figure out right from the beginning whether this is your dream or your hobby. That will help you and your clients grow with you.
  2. If you don’t get slightly nervous before starting every class, you aren’t taking enough risks. Go *big.*
  3. If you don’t love what you teach, it’s probably not the right format for you.
  4. Who cares if someone doesn’t love your class? Stay true to your brand because someone else will love it.
  5. Take time for yourself. Refresh your mind and body so you can come back and crush it.

What will you be doing in LA?

Besides living the backyard beach life, I’ll be teaching strictly Barry’s Bootcamp right off the bat. I’ll be at three locations. This old body needs a break from spinning, but in time I might fall back into Pilates. Be on the lookout for Session Santa Monica, Brittany Grignon.

I’m sure LA’s fitness community will be legit, but what will you miss about the Dallas scene?

This is such a tough and easy question to answer. Tough because it’s hard to leave, which then makes it so easy to answer. This fitness community has it all: badasses, legends, moguls, inspirations— both instructors and clients. I will miss the southern comfort; this city truly feels like home.

I can honestly say I have the best job in the world. Getting to connect and interact with the most beautiful souls, some of who I’ve helped build up or build back up. Thank you, Dallas, for an incredible start to this journey, all of your successes and failures have been mine as well and I can almost promise that I will be back.

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