iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 06-19-2003 - 9:01pm
Hi everyone!

I've been thinking about this one for a long time...

One of my fitness instructors seems a bit unprofessional to me but I like her as a person and continue to do her classes. Examples of unprofessionalism are:

1) No proper warm-up prior to cardio work to the point where I have noticed participants stopping to stretch out a cramp because their muscle wasn't warmed up properly. This hasn't happened to me because I know my body well enough to warm it up but some newbies to exercising may not know what to do or how to do it properly.

2) Some cues which she provides in bodysculpting seem contrary to everything else I've read and been told. For example, she says that it is "cheating" to have your elbows pressed against your sides when doing a bicep curl but I have always been told to "glue" your elbows to your sides, keep the wrists firm and curl the forearms.

3) She talks about her personal life during the cooldown segment to the point that she forgets how long we have held the stretch on the right leg (over 2 minutes) and then hurriedly gives us 10 seconds on the left leg. This also happens during weight training where she either sometimes forgets to exercise the opposing side of the body or does not do the same number of reps.

4) Her music is too fast for the class.

5) In a constantly joking manner, she rants about our form, technique, etc. as a way of getting us to do the workout. In other words, instead of saying, "You can do it!" She's more likely to say, "Suck it up!"

6) She is not empathetic to all age groups, particularly seniors, who would sometimes appreciate a more modified version of a movement.

7) If you miss one of her classes, she takes it to heart and questions you about your absence.

I don't want to report her because I don't want to jeopardize her job. She is wildly popular and her classes are always packed. What would you do about this?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 06-19-2003 - 9:06pm
Let's see....she's wildly popular and her classes are packed.

You're in disagreement with her music, motivational techniques, and her methods of teaching.

What to do - YOU don't take her classes, let everybody else do what they want.

Some of my teammates are motivated by "you suck"....others are motivated by "you're so awesome"....its important to know what motivates who.

But in a class environment there are plenty of people going to be offended, as well as there are going to be plenty that like whatever method of motivation she chooses to use.

As for if she's doing something technically wrong/incorrect in the instruction - if you insist on taking her class you might ask her personally, but non-confrontationally, after class why she says that about the elbows (or whatever the issue is) because you've heard differently and listen to what she has to say.

Believe me, in my "immersion training" groups....I'm hated by the half that want no part of having to live up to my expectations and the challenges of the course, and I'm loved by the half that can't wait until they can live up to the challenge the environment and requirement presents.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 06-19-2003 - 9:33pm
You say

"I'm loved by the half that can't wait until they can live up to the challenge the environment and requirement presents."

The other half just leave?

Peach Blossom

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-13-2003
Thu, 06-19-2003 - 9:35pm
That sounds FRIGHTENINGLY like my favourite instructor, except that she is a stickler for perfect form in bodysculpting and wouldn't stand for anything except having your elbows tucked in for bicep curls.

As for the music, if there is a general consensus that the music is too fast, it is your responsibility to tell the instructor.

Personally, I LOVE that style of teaching, I like pain and being yelled at. I enjoy being told to 'suck it up', it makes me want to push myself harder.

I would agree with what the other person posted, if you don't like that style of teaching, I suggest you take other classes, because there are PLENTY of instructors who aren't like that. I am a piano teacher, I don't teach like that either, I push kids as hard as I can and if parents just want me to babysit, then I am not the right teacher.

Edited 6/19/2003 9:40:25 PM ET by zorbslovessporks

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 2:48am
Do you know her pretty well outside of class? On things like form, you could ask her after class, "I've heard/read..." and get her feedback. If safety is an issue, could you bring it up to the aerobics director, not in a way to get the instructor in trouble, but just ask, "I've always thought... but xxx teaches...." Is one better?" I will mention things to an instructor, after class, if it's something that others feel the same about, like a warm up that is too short. Personal preference is one thing (I like music fast), but safety is another. I don't confront her/him or ask her/him to change a personal style of teaching (like, some are just drill sargeant types and that's their style). It's always good to start w/ a compliment...I really like your class...

On working one side more than another, I've found some instructors who do that. Over 15 years ago, I did jazzercise and someone made a joke about how she'd love to see if Judi Missett Sheperd was lopsided from behind because the routines weren't always equal on both sides. I've also had an instructor on the opposite spectrum where everything was equal, even if it didn't matter. If we did 20 "over the tops" facing one way, we'd have to do 20 "over the tops" facing the other. If it bothers you, maybe you could jokingly say something about being lopsided.

Overall, if you don't like the class, it's your time. Is the rest of the class worth taking the bad? I love my Saturday AM advanced step class and it's pretty crowded for 8am. Someone I was talking to said something about how she didn't like that class and didn't find it challenging but loved the Tuesday class. I don't like the way the Tuesday instructor teaches at all! So, it comes down to personal preference and how you want to spend your time. A nice instructor isn't enough for me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 10:47am
The minute they express a desire to get out of that environment....we have methods of expediting them out of the situation.

We're not talking about a class in the gym...we're talking about several days spent paddling down rivers thru rapids at night, rappelling, swimming down rivers, trekking across the land doing navigation by compass, and trail riding and trail running, etc. etc.

Lots of people are wanting to taking on the challenge....about half of them are up to it when they find there is no quit, out, or rescue except for self-sufficiency and self-responsible behavior without emotional response but with intellectual and rational response required if survival is an option.

So prior to actually getting in with no option for out - when they opt out we have a way to get them out of the environment without any hassle to them.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 1:17pm
Had to think about this one for a bit... here's my take on it. I'm gonna do it point by point and how I'd handle it if I were in your place.

1) Lack of warm-up. I'd check the posted times for classes and see if there is anything saying that people should warm-up before the class. Regina, one of our instructors, has participants warm up before the class because it is an advanced (which implies they know how to do that on their own) class and because the time limitations would mean dropping some of the more intense work in order to fit it all in. Given that knowledge I would want to know if there is some such statement in regards to her class. IF there isn't I would suggest, to HER not her boss, that one be put up and use specific examples of people who have had to stop and stretch during class as justification.

2) Her cues being different than what you've read or believe. This is one of those areas where we all have problems. Weight training is highly controversal in many ways, the one thing that we all agree on is that it is beneficial. Where the problems come is that not everyone believes that to get those benefits require the same sort of routine, intensity, diet, etc. I believe in lifting heavy, period. I don't think that doing 35 reps with a lower weight is anywhere near as effective as doing 6 reps at a higher weight. Why? Well, we won't get into the huge long discussion on that, just suffice to say it is MY belief based on MY research, backed by dozens of professional athletes, trainers and bodybuilders. Does that make my way the one right way? nope, just right for me and others who share it. So... what I'm saying here is that it is a given you won't always agree with others on stuff like this. As long as she isn't teaching improper/dangerous form I'd let it go.

3) She's a jabber. That's a personal quirk, you can't change that, trust me millions of folks have tried all over the world to change our ilk, it isn't changing. In the future you can break the stretch and move on if she's lost track of time, it may prompt her to move on.

4) Her music is too fast for the class. Ack, I won't go there. I find ALL music too fast in classes because I just can't keep up. I've never found a way around it. You're on your own here!

5) In a constantly joking manner, she rants about our form, technique, etc. as a way of getting us to do the workout. In other words, instead of saying, "You can do it!" She's more likely to say, "Suck it up!" Again, personal quirk. Some people like this. When I was in boot camp one of our girls fell out of a run. She was just not doing well at all with the physical aspect of training. She had to go down for a retest the next morning and since it was "before light" she had to be accompanied. (A girl had been raped the previous month, nobody traveled alone by order of the CO) So, I was sent. For the first 1/4 of the run she was doing ok, and I would call out encouragement when she ran past the bleechers where I sat. By the half way point she was about to drop out and I was worried. I asked to run it with her and the company commander being the sadistic jerk he was said yes. I tried talking nicely to her, it wasn't doing it. I started berating her for being a whimp and she perked up. She finished the run, the whole time I was telling her to "suck it up" and "stop whining like a little girl". There are some people who like it, and some people who like that approach of "encouragement". I suspect if you were in Michelle's shoes you would have done better with the positive words of "you can do it" and "just a little bit more". It is a personality trait, you can't change them, you have to choose to ignore it or not be around people whose traits bother you.

6) She is not empathetic to all age groups, particularly seniors, who would sometimes appreciate a more modified version of a movement. What level is her class? Regina is a GREAT trainer, and I absolutely adore her, but I wouldn't dream of stepping foot in her class, it is not made to accomodate the inept, unwilling, out of shape or elderly. That doesn't mean Regina isn't empathetic, it just means that the class was not designed for those groups, if you come back in two hours she'll be teaching a beginners class that is!

7) If you miss one of her classes, she takes it to heart and questions you about your absence. Ah, here is the essence of a good instructor, though it would suck to be put on the spot that way. She cares enough about participants and I suspect has a tinge of self-doubt about her performance so she asks if something is wrong. Take her up on it. Ask if the class is at a higher level than you may have realized and if that is why she doesn't do warm ups. Tell her you are having a hard time keeping up with the music or are concerned about some of the older women or that there aren't modified versions of exercises for the less fit. I bet she would appreciate the honest feedback!

Good luck, hope this helps some. Again, it is just my take from knowing our instructors and their classes.



Co-author of:  MONSTER'S INK HORROR ANTHOLOGY By Cyber-Pulp Press

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 2:31pm
i am a new aerobics instructor so that might give you some context to my advice... i don't think that a lot of the things you have a problem with are necessarily unprofessional or bad. however, if they bother you, you should tell your opinion to the instructor and/or the aerobics director. the gym probably has a comment box you could use or if not, just ask to speak to the aerobics director. if you feel comfortable, you can tell the instructor what you think, but if you don't, go ahead and tell the aerobics director at least. believe me, she isn't going to get fired just because of your comments. those of your concerns that have merit she then has the opportunity to change and those that she and the aerobics director feel don't warrant addressing she won't change. it is part of the normal course of business for instructors to receive criticism and make changes in response to valid criticism, it's really not a big dramatic situation that you need to fret and worry over. particularly if her class is popular, i am sure your comments will have little or no effect on her work status. if you still don't like her class after you've had the chance to speak your mind, it's up to you to decide whether to keep going or not.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 8:25pm
Thank you everyone for all your in-depth answers! I mean it! You really looked over everyone of my concerns and gave me the benefit of your experience and wisdom.

At the end of the day it boils down to: 1)No one can please everyone all the time; 2)Everyone has their own style and preferences; 3)I should make my concerns/questions known to my friend/instructor but do it diplomatically; and 4)I can walk away and not look back with any regrets.


Peach Blossom

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Fri, 06-20-2003 - 8:42pm
Great synopsis from a lot of long posts. It's a talent I haven't mastered!

Avatar for soleilune
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-23-2003 - 12:07pm
Here's my two bits as a long time trainer/instructor.

1)What do you mean by "proper warm up"? The length of a warm up is dependant on certain factors like the type of class, temp. of room, speed of music, type warm up moves used, age of participants. Does she stretch in the warm up? Warm up stretches have been a bone of contention forever & a day. Post workout stretches are important, but many professionals feel they're counterproductive in the warm up. I prefer to do them, but many don't.

2)Bodysculpting cues - I can only address your example. A relaxed muscle generates more power than a tense one. For biceps curls one should relax their upper arms along their sides, not allowing the elbows to lift during the curl, as opposed to "gluing" them. Movements should be performed in a relaxed, but controlled fashion, thus increasing muscle capicity & reducing the risk of injury a tense muscle creates. There are many ways of doing things & different things work for different folks, so unless she's doing something you feel endangers you/others feel free to disagree w/ her methods/cues. Otherwise it needs to be brought to her or her boss's attention.

3)Are you bothered by her discussion of herself or her loss of focus? The first can be considered unprofessional, but many people like to feel they know their instructor, so this as fine as long as she shows interest in her participants as well. The loss of focus IS unprofessional & should be addressed.

4)Music tempo - This is actually one of my pet peeves. It has become the norm for many instructors to use inappropriately fast music. Most instructors & participants don't comprehend that how you move NOT how fast you move is what makes for a good aerobic workout. Don't expect this to change, but you should mention it.

5)Style of motivation - This varies instructor to instructor, class to class. Just as you are unique so is everyone else, so what works for you won't for everyone & vice versa. It's not a matter of professionalism. In my weight lifting & kickboxing workouts I use both types of motivation, but w/ my seniors for example they receive nothing but praise.

6)Awareness of & modifications for EVERYbody - An instructor's job is to cater to the needs of the the majority. They should provide options for all levels, but this ability only comes w/ time, experience & above all the knowledge that modifications are needed. So, let her know.

7)If I have a participant that is always in class, then fails to show one day I am concerned for their welfare, not offended by their absence. I ask what happened because I'm concerned. Many people let me know ahead of time (of their own volition, not my instigation), if they can, so I don't worry. It never occured to me that this was unprofessional of me or that people might view this negatively, so I can't help you w/ this one.

I don't if this helps, but there's my two cents for what it's worth.

Good luck & take care.