Sunday, October 9, 2011

If you ever go to group exercise classes: Read and Heed!

As a person who’s been leading fitness classes for 5 years (Jazzercise), I’ve come up with a few “truths,” if you will, that I’ll share.  So before you go to your next class¸ maybe, just maybe, you’ll see your instructor a little differently.
Don’t be a GAWKER!
Me, last summer -
belly and all. People stood
 outside and pointed at me
No one likes a gawker.  You know who you are!  You stand outside the classroom or just inside and you stare.  On occasion you point and stare.  Sometimes you’re just curious about what the class is.  Even if the instructor is 8 months pregnant, you don’t get to stare.  Sometimes the look on your face, and body countenance reveals your disdain and disapproval of the exercise format.  Or you’re a creepy man who wants to watch women dance.
In my class you get 20 seconds to stare, them I’m doing one of two things.  I’ll either stop the class, and call out to you to join us, or I’m reporting you as a weird voyeur.
You dance a dance class!  You don’t observe one!  I’m not giving a performance. 

Don’t be a TALKER!
Talkers are those to stand around after class is over and visit.  Not just for a few minutes but 10 – 20 minutes or more.  At my center in Texas I felt more confident about pleasantly asking these people to move along, but in Cleveland, it’s different.  Even though I have a microphone and there’s music playing over speakers, two or more people in an involved conversation is DISTRACTING TO ME AND OTHERS TAKING THE CLASS.  Just leave the room and talk all you want. 
It’s an exercise room, not a conference room and you’re not that special that you get to break the rules.

Fitness Professionals
With the exception of the “faddish” exercise programs that come and go, most who lead exercise classes truly are fitness professionals.  The “faddish” ones are those that for $200 and one Saturday afternoon, you can be “certified” to lead a program.  A free T-shirt is usually involved.  Really?  There is usually much training, testing and evaluation involved. 
So if I tell you to keep your knee in line with your ankle or to keep your weight in your heels, just go ahead and do it.  You don’t need to come up to me after class with suggestions of exercises that would be better.  Believe me, with my program, I’m browbeaten enough… I get critiqued and judged over and over.
Give the Instructor a tiny break, would you?
From time to time, not often, your instructor is going to have an “off“ day.  Just to keep in mind, for that any given class she has to be in charge of the safety of everyone in the class, a fickle sound system and microphone, the quality of the workout, knowledge of the material, being engaging and interesting, making it fun, and how successful you feel your workout is.  With experience, one can nail this most every time.  But other days….  On occasion my feet, words and movements don’t marry properly.  What makes it harder is that I do the class mirror image.  So, sometimes my actual right side and my Jazzercise right side become confused.  Leading exercise is not, of course, fighting terrorism, rocket science or brain surgery, but is harder than it looks.
She who has the mic is in charge!
Give the Substitute the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
You teach exercise classes because it’s a hobby for which you have a passion -not money.  Believe me.  Instructors don’t make $20 a class usually.  Twenty dollars for an hour’s work is not bad, but that’s not considering the music, iPod, clothes, shoes, gasoline and prep time. 
The vast majority of instructors are WOMEN.  Most have a job and/or children to manage.  So substitutes are a fact of life.  For $15 or less no one can justify working out with a stomach virus or leaving a sick child.  Students should be prepared for this. 
Certainly, they are paying customers and deserve the workout and format they’re expecting and paying for.  But that’s in a perfect world.  When I’m sick or have a child I’m trying to get to the doctor, the first person with a pulse I reach is going to get to teach my class.
As the customer you can be disappointed.  But don’t be rude or just plain ugly.  Saying hateful words to me is unnecessary and makes you look small.  If you come to class one time and the format is not exactly what you expected, why not try it?  I always say when I sub, “If you stay, you’ll burn 600 calories, if you leave you’ll burn none…..”  If you still think you need to leave, fine.  But don’t tell the instructor how mad you are or how horrible her program is.  It’s hurtful, truly.  And I’m doing the class to try to help someone…

Don’t GO ROUGE on the sub
The substitute knows the workout is different, but she’s doing her dead level best to make it fun and effective.  If it’s a dance based workout, you might not like my format the best, but I defy you to tell me that you didn’t like the music, you didn’t get a great workout and that you didn’t enjoy at least some of the moves.
Don’t start doing your own choreography in the middle of the set.  I’m running the show.  If you don’t want to follow my lead, then you need to leave and not go rouge.  Doing your own dance in the middle of my workout is disrespectful and cruel, and you know it.  Moreover, you’ve made yourself look like an ass. 
If you have to leave early….
Again, the instructor is in charge of the safety of everyone in the room.  If you leave abruptly, I’m going to worry that you are sick or injured.  If you don’t want to tell me in advance, you can give me a pleasant wave and a smile when you leave, even if you don’t mean it. 
OK, so rant over.  I love teaching exercise classes and look forward to doing it nearly every day.  If you haven’t been in awhile, get to a class, it’ll change your life if you let it. 
…Just don’t tell the instructor you know it’s going to be easy, you’ve just sealed your fate for all those in the class!

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