Recently, I have been covering group exercise classes for one of the instructors who has a relatively large following. At the one location, most of them know my methods, so nearly all of them showed up. However, at the other location, they don't know me, and the first day I taught, the group was slightly smaller. As is the common practice, when some of them saw that their usual instructor was out, they left.
After that first class though, you bet your sweet little behind that anyone who attended now knew who I was. The next week, the class grew substantially in size! I heard that the participants began to spread the word, "He's actually pretty damn good," and they all started to come back.
I had a conversation with one lady after class, and she told me that this location felt they were being cheated in group exercise. She apologized for not taking my class the first week, and said that she thought I was just some random instructor who was sent to cover for the big guy. However, once word spread about that goofy instructor named Angel, I earned their respect.
So how does one go about earning the respect of a group that is fiercely loyal to their instructor? Well, that's not easy! Mind you, I too am loyal to him, the man is an amazing instructor. In Spanish, we call him a "Toro," a bull.
So this is how it's done!
We were on the floor doing leg raises, this was toward the end of the class. By this point, I have them pretty exhausted and they have to dig deep! I saw one young lady stop at the sixth repetition and I shouted, "Oh, hell no!" I jumped to my feet and ran over to her. You, yes you, you owe yourself two more leg lifts. She shook her head no, I finished! I shook my head, no, you did not, don't lie to yourself, don't lie to me, and don't turn this group ex studio into a house of lies! *everyone laughs* I saw you, and you dear lady stopped short at 6! You owe yourself two more repetitions. She gave me an evil grin and stuck her tongue out at me knowing that she was caught cheating on herself!
She looked tired, and laid there, resisting. I went down on the floor, right across from her, and I said, "Look, I won't ask you to do something that I myself can't do. We'll do it together." She frowned, I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head. I motioned for her to execute, repeating, "We'll do it together, but there is no quitting! We do not quit on ourselves in this class! It's late, it's cold, and you are here! Some stayed home, but you, you are here! You are here! YOU ARE HERE!" I pointed at her leg, and I asked are you ready? She said yes.
ONE, DOWN, TWO, DOWN.
We did the two reps together, and I said "That's how it's done!" I offered a high five and asked, "Doesn't it feel good to complete the task?" She answered me, "Yes, it hurts but it hurts so good." I nodded and asked, "Do you realize that you are that much stronger now? Each rep you complete makes you stronger!"
I stood back up, speaking to the entire large group now, "Get it? Each. Rep. Makes. You. Stronger! Each day that you are here, you are stronger, every workout makes you stronger!" They nodded in agreement and proceeded to rest and recover for the next movement.
Friends, in fitness, (and life in general) success is a collection of many moves done over and over and over! A collection of these small victories provide a cumulative effect! Don't quit, don't cheat on yourself and watch how will you get stronger! This applies to any task!
As a group ex instructor, I believe in guiding people through the physical motions. It is my job to count, and queue, and direct. But I believe that it is also important to get the mindset on point. I try and speak on the mindset that is required to achieve your goals, whatever they may be at the gym.
And that's how I have earned the respect of this very tough crowd, a crowd that has nearly brought other instructors to tears! (They told me so.) I believe in earning respect through hard work! And when the members show up, and when you see them push, when you see them try, when you see them not quit, you know that you are doing something right!