Group Exercise: The Angry Members

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I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with angry members and unruly class participants. Let me share a story from this past weekend where someone apparently didn’t like the symmetry of my face or something!

So there I was in the middle of subbing a strength class and someone showed up late. This was the third class in a row I was covering at this location, and most of the members had been with me since 2 hours earlier. They already knew that they liked me and they were having a grand ole time in my class.

This newly arrived member appeared surprised and displeased that there was a different instructor leading the group. She even seemed appalled that they seemed to be enjoying this new guy. Mind you, this was a new location where I have never been before. Instead of a key they had coded master locks, this was a problem. I did not have the code, and the person in the front didn’t know it. So we worked with what we had already open, everyone was fine and working out happily.

This late coming member was not, she saw fit to interrupt my class and complain to me about not knowing that the regular instructor was going to be out. Never mind that I’ve been listed on the schedule for several weeks, that fact isn’t relevant. She then started to complain about being unable to access the locked equipment. I told her that I could not stop the ongoing class to try and hunt down a code, so I offered my own equipment as I don’t really need it. She rolled her eyes at me and walked out. The members all started to giggle at this person’s little tantrum.

Later she returned with some weights from the outside, but she didn’t seem happy. As I continued to guide the class through the workout, she had the nastiest expression on her face. This woman was clearly still not happy. After some time, she just made a loud sighing sound, grabbed her bag and stormed out. As she left, I said, “Enjoy your day,” and I smiled at her. She looked at me hard, I nodded, and continued teaching my class.

Again, the group laughed and several said, “Don’t worry, she’s always in a bad mood.” I replied, “Who?” They laughed. Obviously, this person was determined to have a bad day, and she wanted to take us with her. Unfortunately for her, we weren’t biting. I continued my class, and delivered a great workout to the group.

Sometimes there will be a member who just isn’t happy. I empathize, and I wish I could stop the class for the other 30 people, take a few minutes and provide that listening ear that they so badly need, however, we don’t have that luxury. So when you encounter someone like that, do your best to help, try and make them happy, but don’t sacrifice the other 30 members in class because one is having a bad day.


The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.

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Also published on Medium.