4/1/16 update – not an April Fools joke, rather I'm re-publishing this today to help a friend with this issue.
I heard a very disturbing story this morning, from a regular in my 6:00am class.
What follows is a sad example of what happens when an Instructor isn't the leader in the class and tolerates disruptive behavior by one or more members.
Member: Did you hear what happened yesterday? I'm really curious what will happen tomorrow.
Me: No… what happened, tell me.
Member: It was total anarchy. The guy behind me completely lost it. I guess he couldn't take her non-stop talking anymore and yelled, SHUT THE F*** UP at the women who was riding two places to his right, while she was talking loudly on her phone.
Me: Wait, she was on her phone… in the middle of class?
Member: Yeah, she had on hand covering her ear and was talking really loudly in a conversation that seemed to go on forever. A number of us gave the instructor pleading looks to ask her to do something. She just shrugged her shoulders with a “I can't do anything” look.
Me: That's crazy.
Member: That was only the beginning. What happened next was complete chaos. People started yelling at each other. It's was almost like the people who come to focus and really work hard were empowered by that guy expressing his frustrations with the talkers. They'd also had had enough and many joined in to support him. I couldn't believe all this was happening…
I can believe it. Our riders pay a lot of money to be members. They're also polite people who tend to sit quietly, even though internally they're seething inside, being forced to endure frequent (in some classes constant) disruptions, when all they want is to listen to the music and work hard. I've been told by members, on multiple occasions, that they appreciate how I try to keep disruptions to a minimum.
I can also understand how, for some Instructors, it is difficult to be the leader and impose order on his/her class. Indoor Cycling classes are supposed to be a fun experience – not a contentious time when we need to act more like a strict parent, than a personable, fitness Instructor.
Thinking back, I don't remember “Leadership Skills” being included in any of the certification programs I've taken. Which I feel is a mistake. It's my belief that learning to be the leader in your class is the most important role you have in your studio – especially for new Instructors and a critical skill for anyone teaching in a Big Box studio with a large & diverse membership.
Understanding that many Instructors aren't natural “leaders” I have written a bunch of articles that I hope will explain; WHY your class needs you to be the leader, signs that some in class don't accept and/or respect your leadership, and what you can do to assert your proper role – even if you haven't in the past.
There’s a recurring issue that keeps popping up on Facebook and Pedal-On forum:
Does anyone have a suggestion about to do about the consistent talkers in my classes? They’re really disruptive, but I don’t what to offend anyone. What should I do?
So if in one instance people are disrespecting you and the other’s in your class by talking, but in a different situation they wouldn’t, the obvious question to ask is WHY? Why do people act disrespectfully?
The whole concept of why people do what they do is fascinating to me. Back in 2011 I introduced you to the concept of Start with WHY and that it’s important to understand WHY you are doing what you do… and WHY some of your participants do what they do.
Your class participants and manager/owner are expecting you to be the leader of your class.
So let’s end these Talker problems today!
You'll find additional suggestions on developing as the leader of your class (or outdoors as a ride leader) here.
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.