Students Behaving Badly: How Do YOU Handle Maladroit Members?
Being a Spinning® Instructor and enthusiast during this busy season in the fitness world can present unique challenges and opportunities. As instructors, our job duties can quickly expand from not only being a safe and effective ride leader but also to being a tour guide, fitness google, and therapist for new and veteran members traumatized by the crowds. On the upside, crowded classes and busy locker rooms can lead to new and supportive relationships for the new year.
One of my highly esteemed Spinning® colleagues (thank you Lavanya!) recently shared a local facility policy that serves as a “Code of Conduct” for both new and veteran riders. What do you think?
(Facility) Athletic Club: Spinning Etiquette
*Be on time for the Spinning class
*Late arrivals will not be allowed to participate
*Please hold all conversations once the instructor has begun the Spin class
*NO TALKING or TEXTING on cell phones
*iPods, ear buds and other music devices may not be used while the Spin class is being conducted
*If you must leave class early make sure your bike and the area around it is cleaned
*Members may only hold a Spin bike for themselves there is no saving of Spin bikes for other members
*Members may not take 2 classes in a row if the next class is full, the Spin bike must be given to a member who has not already taken a Spin class
*All new Spinning participants must be set up on a bike by the class instructor
*You may not participate in class until you have had instruction on the proper use of the Spinning bike.
*Make sure you adjust your bike before you begin the ride. New riders must be set up by a certified instructor prior to participating.
In the hundreds of health clubs that I’ve visited since becoming a Master Instructor in 2005, I’ve observed only a handful of facilities that have rigorous and enforced rules about appropriate behavior in the Spinning® room. It’s not always an issue, since basic social etiquette guidelines usually cover the necessary bases for polite and productive human interaction (yes, I did type that with an ironic smirk). But in today’s Information Age of iPods, cell phones, and texting I’m curious about how you are all coping out there with the 21st century need/demand to stay connected 24-7? What do you do when students are talking incessantly during class? Or listening to an iPod during class while riding in the front row center bike directly in front of you?
It certainly isn’t just a modern technology issue. A few years ago, I was approached by an indignant student (a veteran and faithful club member) prior to the start of my class complaining that someone had taken her bike, and could I please ask him to move to another one. This is the punchline: there were about 30 students total in the class, and 74 bikes were available in the room (74 was not a typo). It took me a moment to digest that she was actually serious as I glanced out at the sea of empty bikes she could ride, and also registered that I needed to do something since she was in meltdown mode. What were my options? I could try to calm her down and explain that we can’t reserve individual bikes prior to arriving in class. We’d tried that at my club years prior and it was nightmare to enforce. Even though she’d been riding the same bike every single Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the past 8 years and this territoriality was part of an implicit arrangement with the other regular class members who stood vigilant guard over their own favored Spinning® class real estate, new participants were probably not aware of these Skulls and Bones-esque rules and to their knowledge they are free to select any bike that is unoccupied when they arrive in the room. Enforcing that rule would have been the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, I have to sadly confess that I took the path of least (bitchy) resistance and “caved”. The individual who had squatted on her beloved bike, in ignorant bliss, just happened to be a friend of mine and I quietly asked him to move to another bike (if it’s any consolation he could have cared less which bike he was on) to keep the peace. I abhor reinforcing bad behavior but it was 3 minutes before class started and I was anxious to avert disaster and start class and I'm ashamed to say took the easy way out in the interest of world peace, global harmony, and the even more urgent need to start class promptly. I’m very curious to hear from both instructors and participants about your most current and favorite Spinning® class misadventures (come on, January is fertile ground for these types of stories) and how did you handle it?
The test of good manners is to be able to put up pleasantly with bad ones--Wendell Willkie