I recently picked up a morning Zumba class. Anyone who works at a gym knows that the clientele during the day is very different than the people who walk through the facility in the evenings. Because I wanted to stay at home with my daughter, for the past 4 years I have taught mainly night classes during the week. Now that she’s going to school during the day, I am free to work in the mornings.
About a week before I was to start the morning time slot, the previous instructor reached out to me. She informed me that the participants in class were a bit nervous for my class as they heard it was a higher intensity level than they were used to. She told me that they are a sweet group of gym goers, with the majority of them being senior citizens. I told her that I appreciated the feedback and would ensure that the class was fit for all!
Like any other fitness instructor, I have my own style of class. I put myself into every song and every move we do. Some people love it. Some people hate it. And that’s ok with me. However, I wanted to make sure that I tailored my class to the participants. So I switched up the songs and routines, while still keeping true to my style of Zumba and was ready to rock by my first class.
As I entered the room for the first time, I smiled at the people who filled the studio. I introduced myself and told them that this hour was for them.
The work out is what you make of it. You can push as much as you want. I am here to provide you with guidance on the variations of modifications you can take and also to motivate you to get through the length of the class. My number one rule in class is to have fun and let loose!
And with that, we were off and running. The hour seemed to fly on by and I was pleased to see many a smiling face in the crowd. After class was over, a group of women in the class came up to me and thanked me for the energy and the invigorating class. They were all proud of themselves for getting through the workout. It made me so relieved and proud of them too! They were really inspiring! Most of them were in their 70s and never gave up if something was too hard or felt uncomfortable. They took their modifications and just had fun with it!
The following week, after another great class, a woman came up to me as I was packing up my things.
I have never had an instructor who cared less about her class than you. As you can see, a majority of your class is older. I am one of the fittest ones in class and I can’t do it. So if I can’t do it, no one else can. You just want to get your own workout in and not care about giving us a class. If you don’t change, no one will show up for your class anymore and you will be fired. I know you don’t want to hear that, but its the truth.
I stared back at her in horror, unable to even formulate a sentence. In my 8 years of teaching, I had never had someone say these things to me. Have I had people not like my class? Sure. But no one has ever said such hurtful things like I do not care about my students. It is quite the opposite in fact. A few other participants heard this and came to my rescue. They defended me and even went on to speak with my boss about how much they enjoyed me as an instructor. It was very humbling that they felt that strongly to do that.
The weeks that followed, the woman who complained to me, kept coming to class. She never did take any of the modifications I shared with the class. She would continue to just shake her head at me between songs and leave at the end of our stretch without a peep. I often find myself questioning why she would continue to come if she hated it so much.
My whole experience with the new morning time slot has reminded me of a few things. First, no matter how old you are or what your fitness level is, there is always a place for you in a class. It may be intimidating at first, but when you find a class that you love and that you feel comfortable in, you will always surprise yourself on how much you can actually do. Second, there will always be people who will try to break you. People who refuse to be open minded and people who just want to complain. When you meet these people, there is no point to argue or defend yourself. Be confident in what you do and let your passion and your truth speak for itself. You can’t please everyone. Focus on your goal in front of you and go for it.
I love what I do. Not only because I love the movements and music of Zumba, but because of the inspiring people I meet. The people who make me work harder, smile bigger and give them my all as soon as I start up the music.