This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Day I Almost Quit Teaching

This is something I wrote a few days ago and posted on a bulletin board for aerobics instructors. I was so angry after this incident that I steamed over it for days. It's self-explanatory.

I had the worst class today in my (short) aerobics career.
I subbed an advanced step class and I thought it can do it because I'm part of an advanced rotation at other clubs. But I lost confidence early on, it was a disaster of a class, and lots of people left. It was so bad that halfway during class, *I* wanted to leave class. Fortunately, I had a good friend (another instructor) there who was really encouraging and helped me get through it. She also gave me some great feedback afterwards as to some of the things I did wrong so I can improve in the future.
I admit that I completely set myself up. The regular instructor teaches steps at 140+ bpm, doesn't step on the 32-count phrase (always starts on the 2nd beat of the 32-count phrase), but has very fancy choreography. Despite this, the regular instructor (let's call him/her "X") has developed a very loyal following because X has high energy and is extremely motivating.
I spoke to the coordinator afterwards and told her that I shouldn't sub this class anymore because the participants wanted 140+ bpm and I wouldn't teach at that speed (I max out at 132 bpm).
What bothered me about this conversation wasn't the fact that she said I wasn't experienced enough to teach this class, but for her disregard for participants' safety. Her definition of advanced step = 140+ bpm... at a YMCA where the policy is 128 bpm max speed?? I was very disappointed to hear this. She is proud of our fast step classes and compared this gym to "Crunch". She said she used to be at another gym and looked the other way when instructors taught step at 150 bpm because the classes were packed with 60+ people, and the participants would come back for more even after twisting their ankles.
She then told me that it wasn't just my slow speed, my choreography was also too basic compared to X's. She asked me about X's class and I said I was not a fan because X starts on the 2nd beat of the 32-count phrase, to which she replied "it's a [European] thing". [She actually specified the country but I've left it out]. My director says she doesn't care what beat an instructor starts on, as long as that person is consistently on that beat.
I know that BPM is a contentious issue on [this bulletin board], so I'm not criticizing those who do step at faster speeds, especially if your gym condones/encourages it. It's just not for me. I'll just teach at other Y branches where the directors are okay with me stepping at 128 bpm even for their advanced classes.
Thanks for letting me vent.

I received a lot of encouraging messages from other instructors who read my post. As horrid as this encounter was, I've learned a lot from it and am more determined than ever to become a better instructor -- just not at this gym.

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