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Group X: Behind the Mic

Group X teaching

Every club has those Group X followers who treat their daily workouts like their religion. Whether it’s the yogis looking for their daily dose of zen, or the kickboxers looking to work out their aggressions by imagining they are kicking someone’s butt. They all come for different reasons to worship at the altar of fitness, with Group X instructors teaching them the way.

I love these people. I love their passion and I love that they love the burn. In my classes, I often talk about how their workouts are personal, it’s their time and they should put everything they have into it … especially in the classes that challenge their comfort zones. I talk about how in my studio we leave our egos at the door. The only person they are competing with in my class is themselves.

For the most part I think they do this; leave their egos outside. But every now and then there is that one person who thinks they can do it better than you can (and some can — these are the ones I recruit for instructor roles.) When I teach, if I feel someone competing with me I generally ignore it. But I’m not going to lie, I have the occasional instructor who comes to me about a member who “challenges” them. This member, the Group X Diva, generally stands in the front row and knows the routines better than the instructors.

In a large program like the one that I run, serving approximately 5,000 participants a month, you will come across all types. The Diva isn’t the problem though. The problem is that sometimes the Diva can intimidate an instructor. Usually it’s the new ones, with very little experience in front of the class. But sometimes it’s the ones that have been around a while and just lack a little confidence, or maybe they are second guessing themselves lately. Maybe it’s a bad day, a bad class, they gained a pound. Any one of these things can make things feel bigger than they actually are. It takes a lot to get up there and tell people what to do. To say “look at me, do it like I do!” And it’s easy to second guess yourself.

So that’s the real problem. As a group fitness director I have had the conversation many times over the years and I always start it like this:

“If they think they can do it, they should do it. Because in reality it’s much harder than it seems to lead a class. Most instructors can make it look seamless — like it’s easy. And it’s not. I’ve held trainings where I put 25 potential instructors through hoping for a few subs, and when all is said and done I’ve gotten 1 sub.

Because behind the mic it’s a different story. It’s a completely different ball game. When you have that mic on there are no breaks, very little chance for sips of water and a lot of physical stress. Behind the mic there can be music or mic problems and all sorts of things that the member has no idea we are thinking about. Behind the mic we are talking, while we are also working out. Behind the mic we have spent countless hours learning choreography (every week!) downloading music and planning workouts. Behind the mic, it’s crazy-sweaty- hot, and it’s plain and simple hard work.”

So tell that to your instructors who are dealing with the Diva, remind them that the Diva doesn’t understand the reality of teaching. When they are feeling insecure, or lacking confidence, remind them that you know it’s not as easy as it looks behind the mic.

Kerri Miano

Kerri Miano has been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years. She is currently the group exercise director at Meridian Fitness & Wellness in Hazlet, New Jersey.

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