I can’t remember the first time I ever took a fitness class.  I know when I became a regular a few gyms ago.  It started with yoga, since I’d taken yoga at the park district and really loved it (and was so sad when the amazing instructor moved to California), as well as at a studio near me with an instructor who made sure I really got it.  She was the one who walked around and adjusted us so we could feel where we were supposed to be rather than her just describing it.

Those positive experiences are probably what led me to try a yoga class at the gym.  And the yoga class led to belly dancing (because – how fun did that sound?) where I became a regular and to soul grooves, as well, when I wasn’t running on the treadmill or working on weights.  The instructors all did a good job, especially the belly dancing instructor who had classes of near 40 that ranged from first timers to those who could go compete.  She somehow managed to keep the class interesting and engaging for all of them, while making sure everyone was comfortable.

When I changed gyms, the classes were no longer included in my membership, but they were just $4 apiece, so I figured I’d do them anyway… sometimes.  I went to a Zumba class and absolutely hated it, knowing that I like Zumba.  I’d gone to Zumba class with Melisa who doesn’t live close enough for me to attend her studio, but I knew what a fun and good class was – even if I was relatively new to it.

I talked to Melisa about the class afterwards and tried to explain why I didn’t like it.  I knew it was the instructor. She didn’t tell us what to do, although Melisa reminded me that most Zumba instructors don’t call out moves ahead of time but use small cues.  So it wasn’t that, yet neither I nor anyone else in the class was able to follow the instructor through the majority of the songs.  As I thought more about the class, I realized what it was.  The instructor had no rhythm.  I can count an 8 beat and expect to change to a new move on a 1 or a 4 beat.  She would just randomly switch it up in the middle of the 8 count.  Or she would not be dancing on the beat at all.  And there was no expectation to the moves.  B didn’t always follow A which didn’t always come before C.  When we got to a portion of the song that had repeated from earlier, we didn’t know what was coming next because it was always something different.

It took me awhile to verbalize it, but it didn’t take me long to know I wasn’t going to be paying $4 per class for that.  I never went back.  The cardio fitness classes I did this winter had great instructors and always kept us moving.  The same went with the dancers at the ballroom dancing fitness center.  I not only learned a ton of steps that they incorporated into our cardio classes, but I actually know the names of a few of them, too.

Needless to say, I was a little leery of committing to a new gym without knowing if I’d like the classes, which is why I love the fact that they offer a complimentary trial membership, as many gyms do, so I could try out the classes.  Fortunately, I liked them.  The instructors I had were good for the different classes, and I’ve since tried more classes.  I’ve enjoyed the majority of them from Natalia who teaches Zumba a few times a week where I change my schedule to ensure I’m in her amazing class (yes, she’s the one who sometimes does “Tootsie Roll” though we haven’t done it lately) to the new-to-me Pilates I’m taking to the Body Works class that is really hard but oh so worthwhile.

I’ve found enough classes that I like to keep me busy during the week, but I haven’t loved every class.  Fridays are the tough day because the morning classes – when I can generally go – are either the spin class, which I decided I didn’t like, or the step aerobics class, which left me lost.  Natalia doesn’t teach until evening that day, and I need more variety anyway.  I’ve already decided to give the step class another try because I think part of my challenge with the class is that I’m just flat out lost with the moves, which will just take a few weeks of work before I’m there.

The most disappointing, however, is the Tuesday Zumba class. I love Zumba.  I know I do.  If I didn’t make myself do other classes because I know I need to work different muscle groups and change things up with my body to keep it off balance, I’d do Zumba every day.  The Tuesday instructor is currently a substitute.  And I went to my last class with her last week.  I just can’t do it anymore, and I have my fingers crossed they hire a new instructor soon.  This instructor teaches a yoga class before the Zumba, so I have hopes that her yoga is a great class as I’ll be trying it tomorrow.  Her Zumba is like the other instructor I didn’t like.  For one, she’s far too easy and repetitive.  More importantly, I feel like she doesn’t know what she’s doing.  She often doesn’t know what’s coming next in the song and doesn’t have a move prepared so switches partway with an “oops.”  Or she doesn’t know when a song is ending – or not ending.  Or she’s doing moves that to me at least feel like she’s making them up as she goes along because they weren’t the moves she did last time, and they don’t fit the tone of the music.

Sadly, I know I’m not along in my opinion.  Every other class I’ve attended at the gym has been nearly full or overfull (47 people in class today), though with enough room for everyone.  Her Zumba is down to four or five people total.  And that’s sad to see a nearly empty studio, but it’s another reminder that the instructors really make or break a class.  They’re lucky to have Natalia and the other instructors that I’ve truly enjoyed.

Sadly empty zumba studio

And as for breaking the class, it’s another nudge for me to try the classes I didn’t like – when another instructor is teaching them.  Maybe it isn’t the class.  Maybe it was the instructor.


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    Comments

  • Melisa


    Yep, that’s frustrating. In some cases though, (not in the one you’re talking about if the room is nearly empty) an instructor who doesn’t work out (haha) for you might be someone else’s dream.

  • Angel The Alien


    The instructor really does make or break the class! I took a Zumba class at the park district once and never wanted to go back, because i had such a hard time following the moves… but more recently I went to a drop-in Zumba class where my sister-in-law’s friend was instructing, and I did much better and liked it a lot!

  • Deb


    So…I am a Zumba instructor and studio owner. My biggest problem is finding a sub for my very popular Tue/Thurs. evening instructor. She travels for her day job occasionally and when she is gone her class drops from 30 or more to less than half. Thing is, I know the instructors I have used are good, give a great workout, and I get positive feedback from those who attend. BUT, if her class knows she is out of town, they will skip. How do I get them in the door? Do I kinda break down their allegiance, do I bribe them with, say, a drawing? Or do I just suck it up?

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