“You’re Teaching What?” and other horror stories from GX substitutes

Being a team player and subbing classes is great...until the participants treat you like the "evil sub".

Teaching group fitness classes provides a plethora of situations that can terrify the faint of heart, and/or keeps us laughing for years. Subbing classes for others is the best thing to do as a team player, and has provided me with most of my horror stories. Here are a few of my “best”–

Number 3…”You’re Teaching WHAT???”

I was asked to sub for a local favorite teacher while she was away for six weeks. She and I have very different training backgrounds but the manager felt it would be a good switch-up for the class. Honored, I put a hefty amount of work into preparing my classes and was feeling good about what I would be teaching.

The first two weeks for this particular group went well. In the third we were beginning the third song and an angry loud voice from the back of the room interrupts, “I hope you’re not going to keep teaching Nia like you did the last two weeks. I can go to that class anywhere, that’s NOT why I came HERE!” I got flustered, and didn’t know what to say other than, “You’re welcome to leave. I do have some other things planned, this is the warmup.” The woman stayed, however I felt nervy and unsettled.

My current introduction when I sub goes something like this, “Hello, I am Laura Olinger, I am not Jane Doe, and my training is different than hers (some info about my background relevant to what I will be teaching.) I understand you may be disappointed, and you are welcome to leave if you do not want to experience something different. I invite you to stay – we will be doing XYZ. Jane Doe will be back next Thursday.”

Number 2..”Lights PLEASE”

I got to the studio early. Figured out the stereo and set up the room with the lighting I found appropriate. I like to see the faces in the mirrors, and it is an oddly shaped room with some natural light from the back. The day was overcast so I turned on about half of the lights and began my own stretching and pre-teaching routine. A participant comes in and turns the lights off. I say, “Oh, I had them set the way I wanted them.” And she goes into explaining how the natural light is enough. I listened, thanked her and turned on a few lights while explaining, I need to be able to see people’s faces in the mirror. I got my bearings.

Another participant comes in and turns a few more lights on. Another participant comes in and asks about the lights. Before I start class I reset the lights the way I want them, introduce myself, explain the light situation, and begin class. Someone comes in late and turns the lights off…I am about to come unglued…”PLEASE turn the lights back on! I need to see the people’s faces in the mirror!”

As we near the end of class, when we came down to the floor for stretching, a participant walked over and turned all of the lights off. And I said emphatically through the mic, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Number 1…”No Words”

This time I was subbing at a City Rec Center location where I hadn’t taught before. I was a fairly new instructor and was teaching the only routine I knew. First, I couldn’t figure out the stereo system connection, and then I couldn’t get my iPhone to play more than one song at a time (thank you iTunes update).

By forwarding the playlist at the end of each song, we are finally nearing the end of class. Picture a room of people on the floor, supporting with the right elbow, the left hand and foot are in the air shaking to the rhythm of the music. I look in the mirror to see the class, and think I see a flash of something…did I really see that? So, in time with the music and choreography, I cue to roll to the other side, same position on the left elbow with right hand and foot in the air. Now I’m facing the students…Yep, I saw THAT! I had to quickly cue to roll to the other side in spite of the choreography. I had no idea what expression my face was wearing. We finish the bar on that side while I convince myself I am mistaken in order to have the courage to go to the other side again and continue the routine…yep…there it was. A participant was wearing a thigh-length dress and NOTHING underneath.

For More GX Horror Stories and Tips on How to Overcome Them, check out these articles from the GXunited Blog!

Challenges of Subbing Group Fitness Classes

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