When Good Fitness Goes Bad
From technical breakdowns to wardrobe malfunctions, we look at the many faces of the group fitness snafu.
Whenever you put a large group of people in a room together for a fitness class, there is bound to be something that goes wrong. Whether it’s an injury, wardrobe malfunction, or act of God that causes the problem, it’s important to have a plan in place for how to handle the situation. The best instructors not only have their choreography ready to go but know how to think on their feet so that if things do go wrong, they are prepared. And it doesn’t stop there. Students have their own responsibilties when it comes to keeping the class in check. Let’s look at three areas that are ripe for complications — and how to avoid them.
Anyone who has experience with group fitness has a story about that moment in class when the stereo gives out or the A/C breaks down. “A too-hot classroom is never a fun thing,” says Debbie Thomas, owner of Flavor Fitness in Albuquerque, N.M. It’s a good idea to arrive early for class to assess the room temperature and adjust it as necessary. No one likes to work out in a room that is too warm or too cold, so instructors should make sure to know how to use the thermostat … or know who is in charge of changing the temperature. The same goes for students. Speak up! What’s comfortable to one person may not be to another, so let someone know if you want a change.
The stereo is a similar bone of contention, especially on the instructor side. General wisdom? When trying out a new location, instructors should make sure that they fully look over the equipment well before the scheduled class; that way, they can get set up in a flash the day they teach. It’s also a good idea to have a backup CD or iPod with your playlist; you never know when you might need it!
WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS … AND MORE
It’s never fun when your clothing turns on you, especially while exercising. ZIN member Alma Clemons had just that experience. “One night while teaching, I turned around so my back was facing everyone,” says the El Paso, Texas–based instructor. “All of a sudden, one of my clients from the front row had jumped up on stage and was behind me trying to pull my pants back up because they had fallen to the floor while I was shaking it — talk about embarrassing.”
The best way to avoid flashing the crowd? Road test workout gear before class: jump around in your sports bra to make sure it’s holding you in; throw your hips around in your new cargos to see if they need a belt, and definitely check out your look from the front and the back; it’s important that you’re not unknowingly showing too much.
Another wardrobe issue many encounter is the, er, odiferous classmate. Maybe they didn’t have time to do laundry or just like to wear the same outfit for multiple workouts, but whatever the reason, it’s a tricky situation to handle. “In group classes, space is often tight, and with body heat making the room warm, there is nothing worse than a fellow gym-goer who smells like she bathed in her perfume or whose foul body odor is permeating your nostrils,” says Certified Business Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant Melissa Leonard. “The truth of the matter is that while others can smell and may be nauseated by these wafting scents, the guilty person in question is usually clueless to [it], and would probably be mortified if they knew how offensive they smelled. If there are many complaints by fellow class members over a few weeks, the situation should be handled discreetly by the instructor.”
Leonard suggests keeping it light and using humor to address the situation. Her suggested script? First making it clear that a great workout can leave everyone hot and sweaty with a humorous follow-up as in, “It has come to my attention that some members are wearing lots of perfume or aren’t using enough antiperspirant, me included (jokingly sniff your underarms). So I ask, in the interest of everyone, let’s all make a concerted effort to not offend anyone’s noses and keep the perfume and body odor to a minimum.”
Excerpted from the Z-LIFE Winter 2012 issue.
By Jackie Camborde / Illustration by Yuko Kondo