Sunday, May 26, 2013

YOU'RE the instructor?!

A couple of weeks ago at one of the gyms I teach at, I had several participants that were new to my class come in and set up their bikes while I was out of the room getting changed. There were three of them, plus one that already knew me from another gym who had recently switched his membership.

When I came into the room, recognising him, I started talking to him - inane things along the lines of, "Well well well, fancy seeing you here", etc. I've been instructing for about 3 years now, and I know that discrimination is out there. For the majority of it though, and rather unfortunately, the discrimination I have faced has come from two sources.

  1. Gym management
  2. Fellow instructors 

The majority of members have been very supportive, and in general, attendance of my classes is pretty good. One class I have in particular at the moment started off with 2 people in it when I first took it over about 2 months ago, while now it gets 11-ish. It's a pretty good feeling. Members give pretty good feedback, most of them commenting on the challenge and the motivation that I give to them.

Sure, there are members out there that feel I shouldn't be teaching, and for the most part, they just don't attend my classes. That's fine, I'm not bothered, as there are enough members that do attend and I'd rather focus on them.

This particular day though, I walked into the room, starting having this conversation with one member I recognised, and the other people near him just sat on their bikes not really paying much attention. I made my way to the stage when one of them suddenly piped up "Oh... YOU'RE the instructor?!" The condescending tone in their voice said it all, I could tell exactly what they were thinking. I responded as professionally as I could, which was, "Yes, I am, and if you have any questions or need any help getting your bike set up, I'm here to help."

They looked a bit irritated that their remark hadn't really landed, but I'll be honest, that comment STUNG like anything. Something like that happening just as you're about to teach can throw you off your game. It was when I heard the Condescending Member turn to their friends and begin talking about how after the class they would go for a run and then do some weights afterwards that I thought "Ohhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhhooo, I somehow do NOT think that's going to happen!". I told myself that I would teach an absolute ripper of a class, and deliver this message loud and clear.

FITNESS COMES IN ALL SIZES.

As the class started, I tried not to focus exclusively on this member, as there were plenty of other people in the room that I needed to look after too, though I did note that Condescending Member started to sweat rather profusely, get out of breath rather quickly, and all in all, wasn't keeping up with the rest of the class, and was in no way keeping up with me.

When the class had ended, I approached them and asked them how the class went.  They said, "WOW.  I did NOT expect it to be that hard.  I really enjoyed that!  Thank you, that was awesome! When else do you teach?"

I thanked them for coming and told them where/when else I taught and said that I would love to have them back in my class.  I then followed this up with, "So you're going for a run now?  And weights after?"  Condescending Member said "... yeeeeeah.. I'll see if these guys want to...", with much hesitation.

Everyone slowly dribbled out of the room, I packed up the room, gathered up my gear, and started to make my way towards the reception area to put the microphone away.  Condescending Member and their friends were sitting on the plush leather sofas that were near the reception, looking in no way willing or able to get up and go for a run and do weights.  I called over to them, "I don't see you guys running!", and I got a pained sounding reply "I don't think there's going to be any running..."

I'd say I did the job.


60 comments:

  1. Hahaha! You are amazing :D I'd love to take your class. Not sure I'd survive it though...

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    1. Maybe one day, Sara! Just don't plan on doing any runs or any weights after and you'll be fine ;D

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  2. High Five!
    I KNOW I wouldn't survive one of your classes..yet. But I'm working on getting fit enough to go for a long walk together, next time you cross the Great Blue Divide. ;)
    Doncha love it when we can blow other people's expectations out of the water...or our own expectations of ourselves.

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  3. That was the best "answer" you could give! I am sure they won't be judging others quite as quickly next time :)

    I don't think I have ever mentioned the aerobics instructor I had back when I was in my early 20's. She was very short and probably about a size 22 Women's, and the first time my friends and I went to her class, I admit we kind of looked at each other when she came in the room. We were young new mothers just trying to get rid of a little extra belly flab and I know we did NOT expect this lady who was ten years older then us to give us a good workout, but WOW, did she ever. And she did it with a huge smile on her face, loads of energy and plenty of strength. We kept going to her classes all year and got to be great friends with her. That was, I think, my first 'schooling' that you cannot tell a person's fitness level just by looking :)

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  4. Kada - I'm so proud of all of the fitness improvements you've made! As long as the airlines don't start charging higher ticket prices for heavier individuals, I'll hold you to that (but charging based on weight concerns me... if that ever happens, that will be the end of my flying days.)

    Fi - Cheers! :D

    Lyn - I'm so glad that you gave that woman a chance! Imagine if you hadn't, that would've been a year's worth of classes and a year's worth of enjoyable workouts that you would've missed out on. :D Awesome!

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  5. You're amazing! That was an amazing story! I was absolutely enthralled. AMAZING.

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  6. Aww, too kind, Alisha! xx

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  7. I bet they hesitate before making judgements based on appearance in the future. ;)

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  8. I loved your attitude with this. I'm the type that would have took it to heart and cried like a baby.

    I'm so glad you stood up for yourself.

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  9. Good job on what you did! :) Love that you were tough all through this. :) I'm too emotional at some point and how I wish I will be like you. :)

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  10. This is very true, I was outrun but a much larger lady at my bootcamp session the other day, after talking to her she explained how she finds it easier to sprint (which she beat me hands down at) but struggled with endurance.

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  11. Kek - I would like to think so ;)

    Mary - In the past I have stewed over it, but that impacts my teaching and I don't really want that to ever happen, that's not fair on the other members :)

    Naoemi - On a different day, it might have hurt more and I might have reacted differently, but thankfully this all happened on a good day. I wouldn't say I tried to be tough, more like I tried to be professional, so if ever anyone made some sort of complaint, the others in the class would go ".... no?" and back me up, hehe ;)

    Sam - I'm similar, I handle sprints better than endurance. That being said, I know other people who are also larger and do Ironmans - I couldn't do that! I'd love to develop the fitness to do an event like that, but I find it so boring, haha.

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  12. I admire how you handled situations like that, Raina. I detest persons who underestimate my abilities. Anyway, you just displayed the best attitude and I wish I can be like you. BTW, I'm an explosive type and I usually confront people who look down on me. If I will not do it, I will lose my self esteem.

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  13. Kelly - I fantasise about being explosive, and I am *glad* that you confront people who look down on you, because really, what right do they have and how dare they, right? Keep on standing up for yourself, girl!

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  14. Hi Raina,

    You are really nice. I wish I can have a fitness instructor like you. I'm sure I will have greater improvements in my weight loss program.

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  15. Good for you luv. We need more people like yourself in this world.

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  16. Raina, It's so good to see women standing up for themselves. It seems the older I get the less I care about what others think.

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  17. I never thought it can be that really challenging to become an instructor. Those were harsh comments and it's good that you didn't mind them. You really are a professional fitness instructor.

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  18. Wow, Condescending Member was out of line! To pass such judgement on someone at a first glance is shallow. I'm glad you were able to focus your energy on facilitating a challenging class for all. Keep up the good work and don't let other's narrow minds harsh your good vibes.

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  19. I admire you for being a tough woman! I strongly believe that every person has the right to choose to be fit, it can't be seen on the person's weight but it must be seen on his/her willingness to perform the routine. I just hope that a lot of people will be open minded.

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  20. It's really tough to become a fitness instructor. Patience is really required since you must satisfy your students. If they will feel that you're tough, they will start to believe in you until they will respect you. ;-)

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  21. Hahaha! Good for them! Now, who had the last laugh! You are such a tough cookie! Yes, don’t let it affect you! We are all the same in this world! I salute you Raina!!

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  22. Wow everyone, I'm really blown away by all of your amazing comments! You guys rock, I love you so much xx

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  23. Hi Raina,

    This is my first time to visit your site. I love your articles. It's truly inspiring. Anyway, I have a fitness instructor just like you. She's tough and always wants her students to progress. I also admire her.

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  24. That's awesome! Good for you! I don't teach any classes, but I'm bigger and I know other classmates and instructors sometimes don't expect me to keep up. I'm overweight, but athletic and have good stamina! Loved this! :)

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  25. Keep it up and do not take no ****. So happy for you x

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  26. I love your attitude, Raina! That's being professional. You're truly a great instructor. :-)

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  27. Raina,, you are very special and keep been you and take no nonsense.

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  28. I wish you'll be my instructor, Raina. I believe you can motivate me to improve my weight loss program. Anyway, nice attitude you have there. :-)

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  29. Raina, love your attitude - find it really refreshing in this area :)

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  30. You will be a great instructor Raina. Wish I had your mental attitude. x

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  31. Very professional Raina, your in a different league :)

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  32. I like your attitude, Raina! I wish I can be like you. Being a fitness instructor is really challenging. You have to deal with a lot of people including not-so-very-nice-people. :-)

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  33. Very postiive attitude Raina, I think it's the right attitude and wish more people thought like you.

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  34. Love that Raina, fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. I think a lot of trainers, and people in general, forget this :)

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  35. I love the way you can be so positive Raina. You need to be in this mindset every day! x

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  36. Amazing, You are great!

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  37. I love the way you handle things like that, Raina. You are truly professional. Thanks for sharing your experience. This will be my inspiration as newbie fitness instructor. :-)

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  38. I wish I had your mind Raina, you've got a great perspective. I know I'm echoing others thoughts on here but I wish more people were like you :)

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  39. Wow! You're amazing Raina! My fitness instructor is so grouchy that I stopped being one of her students. Patience is really a virtue. You're an inspiration! :-D

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  40. Raina, how did you get such a great attitude towards this? I've worked with lots of trainers and they are all miserable and unhelpful!

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  41. My goodness, I'm so blown away by all of the comments! LOVE YOU GUYS!

    Sarah Blunt - I'm so sorry that your instructor was so grouchy :( Please tell me you left feedback with the gym management? Sometimes instructors genuinely have no idea that they are portraying a certain attitude and need that feedback to be delivered to them in order for them to improve... that being said... some instructors never want to improve :-/ (sad but true)

    Nadia Doyle - Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that the trainers that you've experienced haven't been up to standard; it sounds like they're just doing it for a job/for their ego and not for the desire to help people improve their fitness :( I've been inspired by the instructors I look up to, and the way they make me feel. So all I do is think about how I want to be treated. :)

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  42. Wow! I admire you Raina. After reading all the comments here, I just realized that Fitness Instructors like us must be really sensitive in dealing with our students. :-)

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  43. You have the attitude that will let you succeed in your future endeavors. The thing you did was the thing that most matters. I think it is just relevant given the situation. You cannot please everybody in your class. Keep it up!

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  44. Raina, awesome yet rare attitude. This is what it takes, and I wish more people were like you!

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  45. It does take a special type of person and I know you are that sort Raina!

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  46. Raina, you really are one in a million :)

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  47. Hi Raina,

    You are really an inspiration. Keep up the good work. I hope you'll be my fitness instructor. I'll be waiting for some of your adventures in this wonderful blog of yours. :-D

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  48. I wish I could have a fitness instructor just like you Raina. Anyway, you seemed to be a very nice person. Keep it up! You'll be my inspiration. :-D

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  49. Raina, I'd love you to expand on some of the points you've made because I think you have a great attitude towards this :)

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  50. I really do admire your attitude Raina, it's so rare and beautiful :)

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  51. Well done on standing up for yourself Raina, you really have a great attitude - I'm slightly jealous of that :)

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  52. I love the quote 'if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything'. This definitely applies to you Raina because you stood up for yourself :)

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  53. I love this post Raina and I think your pretty cool. I would like to see a new post as we are all missing you.

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  54. Awww Alex S! Yeah you're right, I need to do more blogging, I don't mean to keep disappearing :)

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  55. Raina, are you making a return to posting anytime soon? Miss your posts :(

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  56. Aww Lea, I am I am, I don't mean to disappear! :(

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  57. That is a very positive attitude you have! Good man. Would love to come to one of your class!

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  58. I love how you have learn how to ride a bike on your goal list. That's something I've been wanting to do for ages too. Everyone seems so surprised when they find out I can't ride a bike. I feel too old to start learning now though! Especially with little kids watching me while I try to not fall.

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