I lead a boot camp class several times a week and although it is incredibly rewarding to motivate the group, there is a small section of members that consistently talk though the class and do not fully participate in the workout. I have been approached by other members who genuinely put their full effort into the class who are annoyed by these talkers and feel discouraged when they are in class. I have tried ignoring the problematic clients, motivating them when I do see them putting more effort into the exercise and eventually started calling them out when I see them procrastinating on a station. None of these have helped so far and I can tell a difference in the mood of the class when these clients show up and when they are not present.
For those of you that are experienced in working in group fitness situations, how would you handle this?
Alaina, are these people who are not fully participating, paying for the class? If yes you can tactfully pull them aside and mention how you noticed their distractions in class and wondered how you can help them do better so they are getting their moneys worth. Maybe offer to “tutor” all the the talkers etc in a private class to help their fitness improve.
If they are not paying for the class, go to the fitness director, explain the issue and see if you can boot them from the class -after giving them the option of improving their conduct of course.
They are in fact paying for the class. When only one member of this group shows up for the class, there is full and focused participation (oddly enough this person is completely interchangeable within the group). It’s when the whole group is there that is when distractions begin and participation declines.
You have every right as a trainer/instructor to make sure participants are following the class in a safe manner and respecting others who are there for a workout. I would pull the participants aside (not in front of others), and talk to them about the situation. Explain that you enjoy having them in class, but their conversations are distracting to others–and yourself–when you are trying to instruct the class. Keep it upbeat but remain firm and just state the facts.
While it can be hard to confront them, the conversation is needed. The class will respect you more for it.
Good luck and keep us posted!
Here is a suggestion that could work for you. This is one that myself and other drill instructors use at the unit where I instruct physical training and team building n order to seek out the weak and non-committed.
Once a week (or when ever you feel like it) choose a member of your class to lead the rest o f the class through some type of obstacle course. Give them an objective to accomplish within a given time and let them be the leaders for that time. This has 2 objectives:
-Help the team come together as one.
-Seek out those who are not team players and if they can’t lead or get along with the rest of the group, then the group will quickly figure that out.
I would start with those from this insubordinate group. There is nothing worst from the feeling when you are put in charge and then either can not deliver because you don’t have the skills to lead or the group doesn’t respect you (this is actually worst). This will either make them understand that they are not as important and/or badasses as they think they are or it will make them become part of the team to work together and respect each other. I’m not sure how comfortable you are doing this, but it will take pressure away form you and put it on them. Again, it’s only a suggestion.
The other option is to not let them come back when the next class is open for registration or at a very last resort refund their money and ban them from coming back. The unity of the group is more important that the feeling and thoughts of a few. Plus, the others in the class are also paying customers and they don’t have to put up with these people.
Whenever I am confronted with this I will either turn the bootcamp into a partner workout and assign partners, the talkers are never put together or I simply stop class and nobody works out until they stop talking.
If it gets really bad I explain the “talk test” to them, if you can talk you aren’t working hard enough so maybe we all need to sprint back up that hill.