Last week, we learned the results of an incredibly polarizing presidential election. In general, roughly half of the voters sided with Trump and the other half with Clinton. If we assume that these results reflect the opinions of the entire country, then roughly half of the U.S. is pleased with the results and the other half is not. While I certainly have my own feelings about the election, I believe it’s important to keep Group X classes nonpolitical, and instead offer to pick up any political conversations after class is over. That’s because many participants consider the gym their safe place to get away from the stresses of life, and you want to create an inclusive environment for everyone no matter their political affiliations.
But, no matter which side of the coin you’re on, this election shook this country right to its core. Every American needed — or still needs — time to process these results. So, how do you respect and accommodate your participants’ needs without the class turning into a political debate?
Acknowledge Your Own Emotions and Needs
You need to make sure you’re feeling well enough to teach first. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or shattered, take the day off. Your participants will be fine for a day without you.
And, use your own response to the election as a guide. If you’re feeling a certain way, chances are others around you are feeling similarly. Think about what you need to hear right now, and consider sharing some of those things with your participants.
Allow Participants Time and Space to Process their Emotions
The main takeaway here is that every participant is responding to the election differently and is processing it differently. There isn’t one thing you can say to make it all better for everyone.
Instead, I would acknowledge that the presidential election happened last week, which is a major life event. If people have been feeling off — whether it’s extra pent up energy or changes to their sleep and health patterns — they’ll want to keep that in mind while they’re in class. If they are still processing, it’s okay to take it easy. If they want an outlet for their extra energy, they have that option, as well. Group X instructors can help participants acknowledge how their body is reacting, and help them get in tune with themselves.
This isn’t to say that Group X instructors should be nonpolitical completely. You can use your voice to have conversations about the presidential election with other outside of class, at dinner or on social media. But, know where to draw the line in the Group X studio.
For more advice, check out the group exercise ideas page.