RateYourBurn | “What did I do?” Top 10 Reasons Fitness Instructors Lose Clients (THIS Client, at Least...)

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Not to be a Debbie Downer, but this is important: Over the last year of fitness freak-dom, I’ve learned some things about myself – and spent a lot of time thinking about what does and does not make a good instructor. Here’s a list of 10 “Kiss of Death” moves that will guarantee you that I’m never coming back.

mirror loving instructors who look at themselves instead of the students while teaching

1. Negativity.

Are you using your clients as an audience to rant about how "Lovehandle Linda" stole your 5PM class? Worst. Idea. Ever. I am here to get happy. I am here to feel good about myself. I am not here for you to load your bullshit on me.

Instructor being a negative nancy and complaining in class

2. Mirror loving.

A major instructor killer for me: making love to the mirror. You are here to teach us, to strengthen us, to boost our confidence. If you pull a Madonna and start blowing kisses to yourself, I may straight up walk out.

3. Failure to welcome new students.

Be friendly! No matter how popular you are with people who know you, the people who don’t know you… don’t know you! One of my biggest pet peeves is when well-known instructors give off the “you should know me” vibe, or decide that they don’t need to introduce themselves anymore. You only have one chance to make a first impression.

4. Failure to gauge which students do and do not want to be touched.

I obviously love being touched/groped/fondled, especially by hot girl instructors (Kristinnnnnnn!) but there are people out there who can’t stand it. Invading the bubble can cost you; failing to invade the bubble can also cost you. 

Look out for “I like to be touched” body language:

  • I’ve recently realized that I subconsciously stare longingly when an instructor adjusts my neighbor. So if the student does that, it might be a good sign.
  • Student automatically closes their eyes or breathes deeply when being adjusted – signs of relaxation.
  • Student starts creepily humming when you are adjust her (um…. anyone else?)

Look out for “beware of dog” body language:

  • Student avoids eye contact.
  • Student's muscles tense up when touched.
  • Student has a mental breakdown, eyeballs pop out and roll on the floor, etc.

Alternatively, just ask! I once had an instructor who asked us in our first Child’s pose to turn our palms face down if we preferred to be left alone.

Instructor fails to gauge which students do not want to be adjusted or touched

5. Rushing out after class.

Instructors are different – some are “natural” during class, and some put on a show. Regardless of your “stage presence”, don’t storm out afterwards - It makes you look like… kind of a dick. Stick around for a minute so that people can approach you with questions, make small talk, etc.

Storming out instructor mistakes RateYourBurn

6. Over-pushing in adjustment.

Have you ever had a yoga instructor who pushed you so far into your forward bend that you felt like something might pop? A firm adjustment is wonderful, but a too-firm adjustment is scary.

yoga instructor pushing student over the limit is not a good idea

7. Eating before or during class.

You need to eat. We understand. But your tuna melt with onions is the last thing I want to look at, not to mention smell, before/during/after my workout. Beverages are fine (as long as they're not aromatic, like hot coffee or strong-smelling juices). Even if I can't see you eating before, make sure you don't reek of food when you walk into class.

8. Talking for no reason at all.

I talked about this in a previous review, but measuring your words during class is really important. If you’re talking to me, your comments/noises should fall into one of the following categories:

  • informative/instructional
  • motivational
  • goofy/joyous
  • self-deprecating, in a funny way

9. Making a mistake, and failing to acknowledge/recover.

Everyone makes mistakes! Act human about it. Did you put on the wrong song, or did you forget to repeat a movement on the left side? Don’t ignore it, and don’t dwell on it. Fix it, quickly apologize or make a joke, and move on.

  • If you ignore it, the people who noticed will think that you screwed up and forgot about it. I personally get a little angsty when yoga teachers forget to repeat something on the second side, and even if we don’t end up “evening it out”, a simple acknowledgement of the error is enough to put me at ease.
  • If you dwell on it, you will probably lose confidence points, and no one want to be that guy. Just be cool.

10. Overselling an unrelated product or event.

Some instructors think, mistakenly, that their class is the correct venue to peddle their wares. Wrong. If you want to say a few words about your upcoming yoga retreat, or mention that you mixed this CD yourself - great, but make it quick. But don’t drag it out, and think hard before making point-of-sale offers (asking students to buy something on the spot). Your #1 job is to teach me – that’s what I came for – so don’t treat me like a giant stack of Benjamins.

Instructors peddling unrelated crap after class

Love, Lactic

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Comments 19 Comments

ginafay 02/21/2012

Hilarious! Yet, all SO true...This has been shared with all my instructors ;) Hopefully none of these turn-offs will be found at DanceFIT.  

Lactic Addict 02/21/2012

Love it Gina!

little_schemer 04/29/2013

I'd also add:
1. If I wear the wrong socks (in barre) don't call me out on it. It's embarrassing. And I lose focus.
2. If I tell you after class that the music was TOO FREAKING LOUD - don't tell me that it's how it's always going to be. If I need to wear ear plugs in your class, I won't take it again. I don't want to go deaf.
3. And if you look like you don't want to be there. And use terms that I don't understand or have never heard before. (IT band stretch anyone? I had to google it.)

little_schemer 04/29/2013

And I had to come back and add :
An instructor at exhale (won't say which one) said we won't do pushups because 'pushups are for boys'. She actually said this. I hated that class. I love exhale. I just hated that class. Never took that instructor's class again.

Paige 05/03/2013

Instructors who fail to support their long time clients and followers throughout an injury.  certain instructors were my social media friends  and supported me when I was regularly taking their classes and tweeting about them, but yet when I get injured -absolutely no support.   I'm going to think twice about running back to their classes...

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