"Thank you for saying something to those two girls. I can't tell you how frustrating it is for me to have to sit and listen to their mindless chatter while I'm trying to focus on my workout."
It was yesterday and I had just finished subbing a class at one of the high-end clubs where I have a regular endurance class during the winter.
I started to say "You're wel..." when she interrupted me with; "Not all the Instructors will say something. I don't have a lot of flexibility in my schedule and this is one of the few classes that works for me... so thank you."
I wanted to ask her why, when she is in that situation, she didn't say anything to the people who were disrupting her time in class? But before I could, I answered my own question.
She respected my social rank or status in the class and was waiting for me to demonstrate the leadership she believed came with my position as the Instructor. I have some knowledge of this member. She is a very successful local attorney and when you see her in street clothes you know she means business. I'm going to guess that her Social Status hasn't come from a meek or non-confrontational personality.
But when she's in class, with her Lycra shorts and a bright yellow jersey, she has the same exact status of everyone in the room, except one - the Instructor, who yesterday was me.
It's actually kind of funny when I think about it. I've often described my students as people who you will regularly read about in the business section of the newspaper or see interviewed on TV. And here's little old me, the leader of a group of high power Lawyers, CEO's and business owners... hard to believe. But for one hour every Monday morning I am the Big Dog 🙂
And more importantly, they all expect me to be the leader.
Put yourself in your student's position. Whatever social status they have outside of class vanishes when they strip down in the locker room and squeeze into their bike shorts. Some go from a position of absolute authority to near social impotence in the three minutes it takes them to change. Imagine the frustration they must feel riding in your class, trying to focus on their workout, but forced to listen to a detailed recap of yesterday's Housewives of the O C or some other nonsense.
There's a good thread running about this over at Pedal-On Students who won't shut up that has a bunch of suggestions about how you can address this problem. My personal favorite is setting clear expectations at the beginning of your class. Master Instructor Kenji Freedman is phenomenal at setting these expectations in his class opening. You can hear it at the beginning of Podcast #143.
Do you understand your role as the leader in your class?
Originally posted 2011-07-09 09:15:52.
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