Disruptions in group exercise

Ladies and gentlemen, until you’ve been a new instructor, and you’ve stood in front of up to 60 people to teach a fitness class, you have no idea how much pressure that is. It takes time and experience to get comfortable in that setting. Eventually, you get comfortable and with that comes confidence.

That being said though, you are not immune to external influences as an instructor. If you are teaching a class that doesn’t have energy, or doesn’t appear to be having fun, that can throw you off your game. Similarly if during the middle of a class, a participant decides to take it upon themselves to complain about your music choices or whatever, that can also throw you off your game. Staying in the zone during class is a fine art and it’s a very delicate thing. I’ve seen many instructors get flustered in class because of external forces like troublesome participants.

Most recently, I had one woman say, “More latin music man, more latin!” I said no problem, I’ll do that. Which means that the following week I’ll add another or two latin songs, but I’m not going to edit my playlist in the middle of a class to appease any one student. I don’t take requests in class.

My playlist is set and planned out for one hour, in the pattern that I want to work you. Some instructors wing their playlist and ask, “What do you guys want next.” I don’t have time for that, and I know that everyone will want something different. I know my groups, and I plan my playlists accordingly based on the specific group preferences. Individual preferences are honored on a best effort basis.

Anyway, I told her I understood, then the next song came up, it also happened to be an English song. I could feel her eyes burning in my direction, but I tried my best to ignore her. Like I said, I can’t edit my playlist in the middle of class, it doesn’t work that way. But I’ll add a few more latin songs for next time.

I had about 60 people in the class who were having a blast and I was not going to let one person ruin it for the others. I could tell she was upset and it bothered me a bit because despite my best efforts, she was distracting me. I tried my best to just ignore her energy and stay focused on the 60 happy people. Anyway, this participant got mad cause I didn’t change the song and left the class. I didn’t even acknowledge her leaving or look in her direction, though I could see it from my periphery. Like I said, I couldn’t do anything at the moment, and if she’d only had been patient, I’d let her know at the end of class that I’d add some more of what she wanted for next week. There was only one song remaining, but I guess not, so have a nice afternoon.

When I got home, I examined my playlist, and I honored her request. I added a few more Spanish songs. My playlist is a blend of music from all over. I don’t only play Spanish music. Anyway, if I see her in my next class, great, she’ll get her extra Spanish songs. I’m not an asshole and do try to make everyone happy. But as participants you have to understand that we can’t just stop and change things for you specifically on the fly. You should be considerate to our delicate situation in front of all those people. 60 people happy, and 1 who wants something else, who do you think will win in that equation?

My advice to you is to save yourself the frustration. If you have musical requests, ideas, etc, see us privately after class. If you scream something in class, I’ll smile, nod, and simply continue doing what I’m doing. Like I said, 60 vs 1, the 60 win. Sorry.

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