Family Magazine

Slowing Going Crazy & Why I’m an Awful Group Fitness Participant

By Sara Zwicker @SaraZwicker

Do you all know that song with the lyrics, “I am slowly going crazy, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….?”  If not, please see below.

AND…you can thank me if that is stuck in your head for the next few hours/days/weeks!  THIS is exactly how I have felt for the last 2 full weeks at work.  I have been working on a very large project which has injected the words oncogene induced proliferation, DNA damage response, and nucleotide depletion into my everyday vernacular.  As a result, my brain feels like it has short circuited. I’d come home every night totally drained.  Like so drained that on the commute home everyday I dreamed about having a nice glass of wine at night after Ashton went to bed but never got around to it because I just couldn’t muster the energy to do it.  I have spent every single hour of the last two weeks at work on this project and I am happy to say I JUST finished it….literally, like 5 minutes before I opened this page up to type up this post.  To say I feel like I have accomplished something would be an understatement. I think this has been the most challenging assignment I have ever undertaken in my 8+ years at work here.  While I very much enjoyed the challenge, I am really excited to move on from this and pick up the other programs I was working on before this project came up.

Okay…let’s switch to more important topics, like why I’m an awful group fitness participant.  First, you need a little back story before I begin.  If you guys have been hanging around here for a little bit, you know that I teach Group fitness classes and have been doing so since 2007.  I am certified to teach Group Power and Group Blast through Mossa (fka Body Training Systems.)  Prior to becoming an instructor I would participate in classes, enjoy them, and then leave. I wasn’t really critical of the instructors, I just knew who I liked (based on their personality and the music they played) and who I didn’t based…there was no other rhyme or reason.  Well, that all changed once I got certified to teach and started to REALLY learn how to execute the moves, teach, and learn the business of Group Fitness.

I am extremely fortunate that I teach at a club that has two master trainers from Mossa.  These people are the ones who travel internationally to train all new instructors and who we see on our quarterly programs teaching the programs for us to learn.  It’s a pretty big deal that we have two incredible trainers to learn from at our club.  Our Group Fitness Director (who is one of the trainers) expects a lot from the programs at the gym and is very selective with who is on staff to teach our classes, ensuring we have proper execution while coaching appropriately and engaging the class.  Due to her selectivity, we have a pretty amazing group of fitness instructors. I guess I took for granted how great these instructors and the management at our clubs are.  Prior to this January, I had not taken a Group Fitness class from anyone other than my co-workers at our clubs since 2007.

My work recently relocated our corporate headquarters to two big new fancy buildings downtown and as part of that move, we got a brand new, state of the art fitness facility equipt with Group Fitness classes.  I spent the last 7.5 years working out in a tiny, run down gym at our old headquarters so this was a really nice change of scenery.  I was really excited that they were offering Group Fitness classes as well since I really love taking Group classes but haven’t been able to do so since Ashton was born (other than teach my classes) based on the times.

Well, as much as I love taking Group Fitness classes, I have realized just how different programs and instructors can be and how these programs are executed at various places. Now, I know that I look at things with a different perspective because I am an instructor and know how things SHOULD go (of course my bias as to what is right), but these are just common sense things that should happen at any club and with every instructor you encounter.  Because of my experience and knowledge in this area, I have become really critical of the execution at my new gym and have let the Group Fitness Director know about some of the things that have happened (in a nice manner of course).  So, here are some of my biggest pet peeves from the last 6 months.

1. Come to class.  This should be a no brainer, but in 6 months, there has been 3 separate occasions with 3 different instructors/classes that just didn’t show up to teach.  WHAT?  I get that people get sick, but TELL the Group Fitness manager and arrange for a sub for the class.  Just not showing up would get you fired in just about any other job, so why would you do it here?  There is nothing worse for a participant than planning out your workouts or scheduling your day around a class, then to show up and the teacher isn’t there, you are stuck waiting around hoping they will show and then realize you have to change your planned workout.  NOT COOL!

2. Get to class early.  At the clubs I work at, we have to be 15 minutes early for our classes so we have time to talk to the participants, answer questions, set up our equipment, music, etc.  Rolling in when the class should be starting, taking your sweet time to set up, going to the bathroom and fixing your hair while we are all waiting around for you is rude and unprofessional and honestly, just pisses me off.  Don’t waste my time!

3. Be personable.  As an instructor, one of your jobs is to make the participants feel comfortable in class, not only executing the moves properly, but asking questions, etc.  You genuinely have to be personable or your career as an instructor will probably be short-lived since you have to connect with the members on some level for them to keep coming back.  One of the instructors in a class I regularly take is about as approachable as an angry bear.  The only reason I go to her class is because I need the stretch out that class provides.  If she never came back, I would not be sad.  She gives off such a bad vibe, which kills me because it’s a yoga class and all the instructors I have ever encountered in yoga have always been warm and inviting. I get that bad days happen and everyday you may not feel like a happy, shiny person, but FAKE IT!  The class isn’t about YOU, it’s about the participants!

4. Prepare.  Plan out your class in advance.  It doesn’t take a lot of time, especially if you have been teaching for a while. I can put my classes together in under 30 minutes most days. Coming to class and winging it is never a good idea, it shows when you are unprepared and makes the experience for the participant less than ideal.

5. Know your music.  Similar to preparing, you need to know your music in and out.  There is nothing more frustrating as a participant than being off beat in a class.  As an instructor, I can hear the beats in the music and know where we should be in a move, and it just feels wrong if you are ALWAYS off count and this throws participants off as well.  You made a mistake? No big deal, just get back on track.  You can feel it so clearly when the music is not matching the moves and its awkward–don’t continue, course correct!

Okay, I have ranted enough today. Like I said before, I know that I am being really critical here, but I truly believe that every participant in a class is coming for a certain kind of experience.  We may all have different goals and paths to get us to those goals, but we all deserve to have a good experience and all the things that I laid out contribute to that overall experience.


Question of the day

What do YOU look for in a Group Fitness class/instructor?

Do you find yourself being more critical in situations where you have a lot of experience in doing something a certain way or do you let it go?


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