Our roles as group fitness instructors demand that we’re at the top of our game each and every time we step foot into the studio to lead a group. People can become injured if we aren’t paying attention or unable to be fully engaged in the class. We are also role models of health for our participants. So it’s important to take care of ourselves and call in sick on days we physically can’t give the attention we should to our participants. Read on for 6 sure fire reasons we should take a sick day instead of teaching another group fitness class without a voice.
Call in the Understudy
Next time you wake up coughing out a lung think about how upset you would be if you went to see the Phantom of Opera on Broadway and the Phantom was coughing through the entire performance. I imagine you would be pretty upset and want your money back. However, if he sends his understudy on for him, chances are you may not even know the difference. Understudy’s (or in our cases, back up subs), are there to support and the actor when he is down for the count. They’re thrilled for the opportunity to go on stage and shine, while the lead gets healthy and well.
So instead of rolling out of bed and saying “I can push through this”, consider calling your understudy into action.
A coordinator once said it best to me, she said “Summer, you CAN deliver a class on crutches and spitting up blood, however, will it be your best class? Are you able to give your best performance to the participants or are you just going through the motions? Are you able to service the newbie who walks into the room? Remember, sometimes it’s better for the members to allow another instructor to cover your classes until you’re healthy and well. That way members remember you at your peak, not at the bottom of your hill.”
I challenge you (and me) to think about the experience you are delivering each time you are on stage. Are you in the middle of a big drop on that rollercoaster of life, and maybe it would just be better for you to let someone else cover your class? If you cannot go out and give it 100%, then maybe it’s better for you to find a sub. (And coordinators, it’s time we stop getting upset with instructors because they need coverage for their classes, and instead take a look at why they are doing it…how can you be more sympathetic and understanding – like my coordinator above – and help members get the best classes possible.)
6 Reasons to Stay Home
1. It’s about putting members first.
It should always be about giving the members the best experience possible, and if you’re unable to do that due to an injury or illness, then find someone who can. Participants don’t want to listen to you hack up your lungs for an hour while you attempt to put them through a workout. They don’t want to watch you struggle to demo an exercise because you’re injured. Let them get the best workout possible by finding someone who is better capable of providing them with that class.
2. Teach your participants what it means to REST.
Teaching with an injury doesn’t make you look strong or tough, it just makes you hurt and prolongs the injury. It also teaches participants that it’s okay to workout when injured/sick because their instructor is doing it. Take the time to rest your body, show your participants that you value your body just as much as you value theirs. Demonstrate how time off can get you back in the gym quicker and better than before.
3. Get healthier faster.
By teaching sick you are further weakening your already depressed immune system to the point that it has no fuel to recover from and thus prolongs your illness. Continuous teaching while sick could result in continuous or prolonged illnesses that just won’t go away. Plus, a tired and weakened body is more prone to both illness and injury. It just leaves you exhausted and incapacitated.
4. Allows participants a new experience.
Having a sub to cover your class could introduce participants to a new instructor, format, or experience that they may not have done otherwise. If the class gets cancelled it could allow them the chance to go to a different class or workout with a different trainer, doing something that they may enjoy just as much as your class.
5. Participants understand.
We like to think we are superhuman, but we aren’t. We get sick. We get injured. Participants understand this. They know that we need to rest and recover just as much as they do. Therefore, they will understand if someone else is teaching your class. They will understand if it is Zumba instead of BODYVIVE®, and for those that don’t…well maybe you don’t want them in your classes anyways.
6. It’s not about the money.
We teach because we love it, but for many of us it is our primary source of income, so this does factor into our reasons why we continue to push through. However, if I add up how much I have made over the years of teaching classes when I should have been in bed, it doesn’t even begin to add up to the mounting doctor’s office bills that I have due to this fungal infection in my sphenoid sinus that I have been going back and forth to doctors for for 3 years. Sometimes, forget about the short-term monetary gains, and remember that in the long-run you may actually have MORE money if you just stayed home!
Take Care of Your Body
Take it from the girl who has spent more time than I like to admit in various doctors’ offices, take the day off. When you start feeling sick, call your understudy’s into action. Let your coordinator know upfront that you are feeling sick and that you may need to have some subs. Tell the sub to let your participants know what’s going on, and they will no doubt ask you how you are feeling the moment you come back. And finally, don’t go back too quickly. Give your body the time it needs to rest and recover from an illness or injury, coming back stronger and better than before!
Summer, Founder GXunited
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BS: Exercise & Sports Science
NSCA: Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
ACSM: Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C)
Yoga Alliance: 200-hr RYT
ACE: Group Fitness Instructor
Balanced Body: Reformer Level 1 Coach
Schwinn: Indoor Cycle Instructor
RRCA: Running Coach