"Sh*t happens". It's about how you react in the moment that matters to the participants in your group exercise classes. Discover if you're Mariah or Jimmy?

Unless you’ve lived in a major bubble (or hole) for the first few days of 2017, you witnessed Mariah Carey’s epic fail of a performance in front of 2 million people on Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin Eve stage in Times Square. In what she claims to be “technical malfunctions” and a lack of a sound check, her performance did not go as planned.

Then on Sunday night, at the 2017 Golden Globes, host Jimmy Fallon also fell victim to a fail in technology when his teleprompter stopped working and he had to give his opening monologue ad-hawk, laughing and having fun with the audience in the process.

These two (recent) cases of mega celebrities having technical issues while performing on stage in front of millions of people got me thinking about our roles as group ex instructors and how we react when things go wrong. These two performers had very different responses when modern technology failed to go as planned. What is your typical response to group ex horror shows? Do you (a) march around on stage complaining about how things are not going as planned, or (b) laugh it off and have fun with those in attendance? The difference in reactions can make the world of difference.

Sure we may not be on stage in front of millions of people, but we are there for a group of people and want them to have the best experiences possible. Therefore, it is our job to react well when things go wrong and make our class members feel comfortable.

Everyone is Watching – Reactions Matter

There is no question that technical malfunctions will be part of your journey as a group ex fit pro. And while I’ve shared my horror stories and given you tips for how to (hopefully) survive them, it ultimately comes down to how you react in the moment that matters.

Mariah pouted, complained about the situation and ultimately let the performance flounder and flop to a close. It was embarrassing for her and painful for those in attendance. Jimmy on the other hand, he laughed about his situation. While he explained and “complained” about it, he did so in a funny way, making the audience enjoy and relate to the situation at hand.

Now think back to one of your horror story moments….Where you Mariah or Jimmy?

  • Mariah’s reaction: Did you complain about how the temperature wasn’t right, the sound wasn’t what you wanted, or there wasn’t enough equipment? Did you make it known that you were not happy about the situation?
  • Jimmy’s approach: How did you make the situation less uncomfortable for all involved? Did you – sing when the iPod died? Discuss the value of sweating when the room was hot? Or taken the opportunity for an outdoor workout when the stereo was dead? It is a simple change in mindset, but can make all the difference in the outcome of class.

In the moment it may have felt right to complain, but ultimately what did it do for the situation? Probably nothing. It may have just made you and those in attendance more upset and aggravated.

It’s the old adage of looking at the cup half empty or half full. Do you think positive or negatively in the moment? Yes, you can pout at the situation, or you can look ahead and see how you can make it better. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is just be positive. Stay in the moment, and think about how to give your audience (aka. your participants) the best experience possible.

Oh, and Don’t Forget to Always Be Prepared

No doubt Mariah Carey was trending at #1 on Twitter for the 24-hours after her performance, and she even went on to say a few things herself.

But one common tweat trend that got me thinking was how ill-prepared she looked to be performing. How she didn’t seem to know where she was supposed to be or what she was supposed to be doing. Or that at times she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Some suspected her to be drunk, and others just thought her time was up. However, whatever the real cause of her failed performance doesn’t matter, what sticks out to me was her lack of professionalism and lack of preparation for technical challenges.

As group fit pros being prepared is what makes the difference between an okay class and one participants are talking about it in the locker room. But being prepared isn’t simply showing up in your new cute LuLu outfit or being 10-minutes early to class, it is about having class objectives and goals that make a cohesive class. It takes time and preparation to get there, not the 5-minutes in the car before class starts.

Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever gone into a class without a plan?
  • Have you ever tried to “wing-it” and figure it out as you go?
  • Have you placed your iPod on shuffle in a spin class and just hoped for the best?

There is no doubt in my mind that every single person reading this article has taught at least one class using the above methods. I know I have. Whether it be due to a last minute sub request or simply not having time to prep for your weekly class, at some point all group ex pro’s will go to a class not prepared for the experience ahead. And what happens are mediocre classes that if an added technical difficulty arises could turn into a deer in the headlights moment for you.

When time is running short, remember that all classes don’t have to be unique. Here are a few tips for making yourself prepared when time is short:

  • Go back to your old favorites and teach them instead of creating a new profile / workout.
  • Check out our choreography exchange for ideas and class plans from other fit pros.
  • Use the few moments prior to class to set one objective for the day (“today we will use resistance bands to work all major muscles groups in all planes of motion). Even this quick snippet of an objective can guide your decisions throughout the rest of class, even if you are having to “wing it” to figure out all the exercises.

Be Your Best

At the end of the day, while we may not be on stage in front of millions or on live television, we are still performing when on stage in a group fitness studio. Thus, it is all about giving members and participants the best experience possible. Sh*t will happen, simply react in a way that makes you memorable – in a fun and funny way, not as a diva!

Are you Mariah or Jimmy?!

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