As an instructor, fairly unchecked by the industry, I am bound to a certain standard that, I would venture go guess, any long-in-the-tooth instructor adheres to. I keep my certifications renewed with regular participation in learning opportunities in the fitness arena, I dress appropriately, I conduct professional quality classes, which are inclusive and free of bias and negatiity. I put countless hours into class preparation of both music and coaching and I train myself. This is par for the course...goes without saying...is expected.
But what about you, the enthusiast - are there expectations of you?
Have you ever stopped to consider how vitally important your presence is in the class? It's simple to say, "of course the enthusiast is important - no participant, no class!" But it is oh, so much deeper than that. I don't just need you in the class - I ...no, we all!!! ...need you fully present in the class.
Case in point: I was setting up my class last Tuesday. We have a bunch of new new new participants - new to the city, new to the gym, new to Spinning®. So I was not totally thrown off when one guy at the back of the class pulled out his iPod and started cycling, ear-buds in. I went about my usual routine of making sure everyone was fit well to their bikes an prepared for the class. When I got to him, I had no problem what so ever saying, "You'll like my music, and won't be able to hear yours, so I appreciate your being with us. That way you can hear my coaching cues." He took it right off. Easy.
But about ten minutes into the class, I noticed a glow cast across another participant's face and she was riding full tilt, although the rest of us were seated in a lower energy endurance segment. This put me in a rather awkward position. I didn't really want to draw everyone's attention to her and more importantly I didn't want to draw everyone's attention away from where she was just out of synch but I opted to stay present with the other 15 participants and speak with her after the class.
"The gym has Spinning® bikes available upstairs in the cardio room if you like to ride with your own music." I had to pick a starting point - I am, by nature, not a very confrontational person.
"Oh, but I like the energy of the group."
"But you're just steeling energy from everyone else and not giving back when you're out of synch."
We spoke more about how she likes to copy the energy of the woman in front of her and how others behind her might be conflicted to be drawn into the energy I am conducting while seeing the energy she was putting out - and how that might be distracting. We spoke about the difference between a coaching session (where I put a tremendous amount of effort into eliciting a mind set, teaching technical skills and providing an expereince for people) and a workout. She could get a workout upstairs, but this group setting was a total give and take.
Whether it is chatting, taking phone calls, being late to class or leaving early, I have to be candid here: I do have as many expectations for you as you do for me when it comes to conducting a class. I want you to deal with segments of class where I offer no verbal cuing. I want you to grapple with your headspace, free of lyrics and other distractions. I want you to, in losing yourself, find yourself. I don't want you to rob others of their experience by having moments of looking like a superhero, when the rest of us are revving a little lower.
The reason my expectations are so high? Honestly, it is because I consider you a gift to the class. What a gift it is to come share your energy with others and if you only half commit, then it sort of feels like a cheat...a tease...a gift we can't really have, or contribute to.
I welcome the conversation. Do you feel that etiquette is important in a Spinning® class or is this just my ego talking - hurt by the casual disreguard of my music and coaching? Do you have other experiences where either you feel your instructor expects too much from the participants or the participants are not showing good ettiquette to the distraction of others?