True story: I taught a pretty rough Group X class recently. Here’s what happened — I tried to mix it up by having participants go across the floor, and there was a lot of time wasted trying to get everyone coordinated. I take full responsibility in the fact that I did not cue the activity well, so it’s safe to say it was utter chaos for the first few minutes.
We finally were able to find our Group X groove, wrap up the across-the-floor portion and transition back to the center of the room when I realized we had been listening to the same song for the past 15 minutes. The stereo was on repeat and when I took it off repeat, it didn’t work at all. So, I had to manually click to the next song after each one ended.
It was the sort of group fitness class where I never really felt like I found my rhythm (no pun intended :)). It’s really hard to leave an exercise class like that and not feel down on yourself. A thousand bad thoughts ran through my head. Did I just lose all of my participants? Is everyone going to be talking trash in the locker room? Did I ruin everyone’s night?
Well, the short answer to those questions is “no”. But, how do you squash all of those terrible thoughts in your mind and not let a bad class ruin your night?
Here’s what helped me: I thought about how I would react as a participant of that Group X class. I thought back to all of my favorite Group X instructors, and asked myself how I would react as a participant if they taught a chaotic class like the one I just led. And you know what? I wouldn’t bat an eye.
What I would do is make sure I got a good workout by modifying or adjusting, as needed. And, I wouldn’t think twice about the stereo problems, because it really wouldn’t be a big deal to me.
I tend to magnify my mistakes when I’m the instructor, and it’s refreshing to remember that everyone else will go on with their day as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Sure, maybe I’ll lose a participant or two, but if I come back to the next Group X class with tried-and-true, challenging activities and (hopefully!) a working stereo, everyone else will be satisfied.
I hope this serves as a reminder to cut yourself some slack as an instructor. We try so hard to give our participants the very best group fitness class each and every session, but we’re all human.
For more lessons learned, check out the group exercise ideas and tips page.