Group X: The Wild, Wild, West

Group X

It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep. My mind is stuck in the “Wild, Wild, West” that has become my group fitness department. It’s the second week of February and classes are jammed. They are packed to the rim. Not every class of course — but the classes that hit the middle of the bell curve, the ones for every one — they are busting at the seams.

Years ago when I lived in a large city just outside of Manhattan, the club I attended required that you sign up for an exact spot when you got to your class. You want the front row? You better be there early and pick your spot. The studio floor had little pieces of blue tape where your “spot” was and the sign-up sheet had a diagram of the studio with a layout of the real estate.

If you’re anything like me, I don’t really care about my spot in class — but maybe that is because I am usually up front with a mic on, and when I am taking a class I try to disappear in the crowd. But let me tell you something: If you mess with the wrong person’s spot in a Group X class, you might as well be asking for that person’s first born child, because if they can’t get that spot someone is gonna pay, and if you are the one responsible for setting up that sign-up sheet, well then it’s gonna be you (me).

But back to the Wild, Wild, West of group fitness. It all came to a head for me when I was teaching a Body Pump class during a popular time slot. People were setting up all over the studio, steps, weights, mats in disarray. Just everything everywhere. No rhyme or reason to the setup.

We had two people come in and with several spots left I knew there was room to fit them in the class. Time ticking away, I put on the mic and asked people to move over a bit. Of course, nobody moved a muscle. So I picked a particular person and asked them to move over — they oblige, but aren’t happy.

This is the moment that I realize crowded classes are both a blessing and a curse. Of course not all classes are as difficult. Each class has its own vibe — this is the “don’t mess with me” class. They want a butt kicking and they want their SPOT. So here I am, at 3 a.m. worrying about the quality of classes we offer. We can’t have chaos. We need order. It’s for the benefit of all involved, from the class rookie, to the instructors, to the seasoned participant.

It’s my job to make the process safe, effective and smooth for all involved. So here it is … the birth of the sign-up sheets. We start Monday. Wish me luck.

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