Just give me a chance, will you?

This past week I have been on the receiving end of a cold shoulder treatment from two ladies at the gym where I teach twice a week. I decided to write this short note as I know how personally I would take it in my early teaching days.

What am I talking about? Picture this: I teach at the gym twice a week. It’s a class with loyal regulars and a waiting list. This week I was asked to cover Paul who teaches on both days right before me. He has his loyal following too. We have very different teaching styles.

I got to the studio nice and early and set myself up. It was about 10min left before the class and people started to arrive. At this gym a member of staff stands at the door to the studio collecting tokens as the class needs to be booked. That means you do not enter and see the instructor face to face until you handle the ticket and walk in. You can however see who the instructor is through the glass door.

So this lady comes into the gym with a smile, is about to handle her ticket in then sees me through the glass and makes a hasty retreat. A couple of minutes later another one does exactly the same and promptly heads for the dance class saying something like: “It’s not Paul”.

Now with a 1,000 class taught including hundreds of cover classes I have been there before many times. But I used to take it personally and really get upset about it. When you are an instructor and people react this it is hard to take. If you are at the gym for the first time you want to say to them (and I did in the past): “Just give me a chance. If after the first 15min you think I am not good enough for you, you are free to leave.”

I do understand that there will be instructors you will not LIKE and it may not be personal at all – you like them but not their teaching style. And I am not condemning anyone. Here comes my confession: I used to do it… I had my favourite 2 instructors. I loved their music and their class structure. I knew I was going to enjoy my workout. Then on a couple of occasions I walked in, set myself up and … someone else turned up! A cover. I suffered through one class where I did not enjoy it and second time despite being ready and set up, as soon as the cover lady came in – I promptly left. Now I know what it feels like from the other side… Karma?

My point is: keep an open mind. But if you have tried a class with that instructor and it’s not the music or structure you enjoy try leaving with a quick smile rather than rolling your eyes and walking out with a huff.

I now take it on a chin and as much as I understand we all have our own teaching styles and personalities and musical tastes I personally would prefer if you could nicely give me feedback as per what is it that makes you leave. It may bring my attention to something I can work on or simply point out you don’t like my 90s music or the fact I teach partially off the bike.

What about you? As an instructor, would you like to know why people leave the studio as soon as they lay their eyes on you or do you believe “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”? And as a class participant, have you ever walked out on an instructor before they started teaching? What made you do it?

7 thoughts on “Just give me a chance, will you?

  1. This also happened to me recently while subbing. In my earlier years teaching, it used to bother me a bit because I always wondered this: you already spent gas and money and time to come to the gym, only to turn around because a sub instructor is there. You had planned your day around taking a class, but now you turn around and leave. Hmmm…

    Now, it’s simple – I deliver my best when I sub. My routine will resonate with some, but not others. It really is simple – you may have the best ice cream, wine, chicken sandwich…whatever, but there will always be someone who will not like it. Look beyond those and focus on the ones who are there and who like it. That’s where you will make an impact. And you wont make an impact by chasing those who leave. Let them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Tom. It does take some thick skin though 🙂 I found it tough at the beginning. Now I know this is part and parcel of the job. Thankfully it does not happen too often. ICA has a great article on educating your regulars about cover instructors.


  2. So… Wow. A lot of things I want to say on the subject 🙂
    First, I would never ever walk out on someone mid-class – even before I started teaching classes myself. It is simply rude in my opinion. Cycling is a wonderful format to “do your own thing” if you don’t like where the instructor is leading you. So, if you’re a student and you came in, set up and hate the format – I’d do my own thing instead of walking out.
    As me in the past – I’d prefer what those two ladies did rather than them giving me a chance and still walking out 15 minutes in – distracting the class and demonstrating to me that I blew my chance to impress them 🙂 I’d rather think it was simple “favorites” that drove them away from class then stress over what was it that I did wrong that made them leave the class 15 minutes in.
    I don’t stress about it anymore though – if someone leaves my class at any time – I sincerely thank them for coming and let it go from there. Not worth my time and emotional balance to stress over that.

    Liked by 1 person

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