Redefine beautiful!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Etiquette of a Fitness Class

Fiona, (How to be Chic) wrote a very interesting and thought provoking blog on August 11.  It was about "attention seeking" students who disrupted the flow of the yoga class she attends regularly.  The perpetrators loudly made comments and expletives; a private dialogue said aloud.  She found the banter extremely rude and her stress level climbed, instead of  dropped as one would expect from a yoga class.

I have been a fitness instructor for (God, I am going to date myself horribly!) twenty-eight years.  I have been extremely lucky to have had, for the most part, awesome and respectful students.  But, there are exceptions and it is always difficult to have to confront a student for their inconsiderate behavior.

These are my guidelines for etiquette in a group fitness class:

1.  Please do not hold conversations with another student while the instructor is teaching the class.  The group becomes distracted and so does the instructor.  Trust me, it is difficult to teach a class to a large group and becoming distracted will throw me off of my direction.  (I can tell you a few funny stories about students during one of their pow-wows, thinking my music drowns out their conversation.  All of their secrets being heard by the entire class.  More on this later...)

2.  Please do not ask questions of the instructor during the class that do not pertain to the instruction.  ("Why are you wearing make-up?")  Now, I am terribly guilty of talking personally to a student.  "It is so good to see your back is doing better, Mary!"  "I'm glad to see you again, Gladys!"  Most students do not mind a personal, but quick, discussion initiated by the instructor.  They do not like it as much if it is initiated by the student.

3.  Please do not take up too much time with YOUR personal fitness related issues.  You are in a group training class not personal training.  Instructors should take the time after class to answer simple questions about personal fitness issues.

4.  Please do not make comments during class about the instructors music or protocol.  Every person in the room has, what they deem, their favorite music or routine and most instructors try to please the entire group but, it is impossible to please everyone all of the time.  If you do not enjoy the music or the protocol today, remember those many times when you have.  And, there just may be a reason for your instructors decision.

5.  And, finally, please treat your fellow students as you would like to be treated.  Allow a bit more space when the room is packed.  Move up to accommodate the student who wants to be in the back row, she is shy!  Do not hate that perfect body in the class, she has been coming to the class for years.  Look at her as an example of what YOU, too can achieve!  Do your best to not disrupt the flow of the class, whether by talking or showing up late (I really do not mind a student who is late when he tells me in advance why).  And, when leaving early, do so discreetly, and say good-bye to the instructor, she will be glad to know you aren't leaving because you are sick of her!

Living amongst other humans means we must be tolerant, it also means we must be aware!  Now, go have some fun, darn-it!


  1. Great guidelines Debra. It must be daunting to teach a group of people. I've never thought about it from the instructor's point of view.

  2. Debra,

    It's like being a school teacher...when I substitute taught elementary school several years ago, I learned quickly that you need to set ground rules.
    Of course, your students aren't children (except when you are volunteering) but even we adults need to know what's expected of us for classroom etiquette.

  3. Adrienne and Fiona,
    Absolutely. I think the instructor must create the boundaries in the class. Otherwise, those few who are disruptive, end up taking over the class.