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How to Regroup in the Middle of Group X Classes

A fitness instructor teaching one of her Group X classes

After spending hours crafting the perfect lesson plan, creating a stellar playlist and practicing your cues, sometimes Group X classes still won’t go your way. Maybe the CD keeps skipping, the microphone screeches every time you walk towards the back of the room, or there’s something slightly off in the choreography (yes, all of these things have happened to me at some point :)). With all eyes on you, it’s hard to find a second to gather yourself, address these challenges and carry on through the rest of the class. So, what can you do when you need to regroup?

First, repeat after me: stuff happens. One small mistake is not going to have participants running for the hills. We’re all human and members will usually be understanding when the occasional issue arises. I personally am quick to get down on myself when I make a mistake during a group fitness class, so I’m going to give us all permission, myself included, to cut ourselves some slack next time we mess up.

When something is going awry, you’ll want to try to alleviate the issue as much as possible for members. Your response will of course depend on the problem, but here are a few ideas to get your class moving while also giving you a second to yourself to regroup and address issues.

For Choreographed Group X Classes: Use a holding pattern

In a dance or step class, a “holding pattern” is a move or set of moves that participants can do over and over again, like step touch or a grapevine. If you mess up the choreography or have an emergency in class, you can instruct members into a holding pattern, so they can keep their heart rates up while you are free to move around the studio.

If you’re not in a choreographed class, you can still do a holding pattern by starting an exercise, instructing members to continue to move while you walk around. Preferably, you’ll want an activity that is balanced on both sides, like squats or alternating lunges.

For Spin Group X Classes: Ask folks to close their eyes

Since everyone in a spin class is strapped in to their bike, they can safely close their eyes for a moment or two without putting themselves at risk. You can ask your participants to match their leg speed to the beat of the music. Then, ask them to close their eyes and continue to match the leg speed. If your bikes have monitors, you can use them to check on their speed at the end.

You likely won’t want to do this immediately after an interval when heart rates are especially high or with a particularly fast pace. But, if things are somewhat calm, you can ask everyone to close their eyes for just a few seconds while you play with your notes, the stereo or whatever it is that’s causing the problem.

For Strength Group X Classes: Cue interval training

Intervals are a great way to get participants working hard without needing you to be at the front of the room to demonstrate. Once you’ve started the class on an interval, you’re free to address any issues. You can also divide the class into partners and ask one partner to keep time for the other, so that their attention is focused on each other instead.

If you’re still able to give participants a good workout, they’ll probably end up forgetting all about the problem before the class is even over. After class, you might want to treat yourself to a nice bubble bath or yummy bowl of ice cream to reward yourself for making it through a challenging class. I know you deserve it.

For more tips and tricks, visit the group exercise ideas page.