Group Fitness Etiquette


Back in December I was working longer hours in preparation for our new system going live, so my trips to the gym were taking a bit of a hit.  I usually make it a point to try and get to one spin class a week if I can. It wasn’t happening very often.  One evening I made it a point to leave work in time to make it to at least part of the class.  I walked in about 10 minutes late but I wasn’t the last one to join.

About 15 minutes later, in the middle of class, the male instructor made a comment about people showing up late to class and went on to say that if you couldn’t show up on time and stay for most of the class he didn’t want you there.

I’ll admit, I was a little shocked and upset.  I’ve never had an instructor say something like that.  But most of the group fitness instructors I’ve taken classes from have been women.  Maybe it’s a case where women are more understanding of how busy people’s lives are.  In an ideal world people would have time to take the entire one-hour class.   I usually only stay for a half hour of a class because I like to also do weight training.  I imagine there are multiple reasons people don’t stay for an entire class: they may be new to it and can’t handle the full class, they may have an injury that prevents them from enduring the full class or they have an appointment before or after class.

I realize that it is somewhat rude to enter a class late or leave early, but if fitness professionals want to encourage people to try new and different activities then they need to be more open minded.  My Saturday morning spin class instructor, Charlene, waves to people with a smile when people join late or leave a bit early.  She realizes we lead busy lives and are making an effort to get there, even if we don’t stay for the entire class. If I’m not going to stay then I try to find a spot in the back or off to the side so as to distract the fewest people.

I’m interested to see how other people feel.

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9 thoughts on “Group Fitness Etiquette

  1. I can’t believe that the instructor would say that! I would NEVER say something to a person entering late or leaving early (heck, people leave my Spinning classes early all the time). As an instructor, I’m just glad that people make the effort to come to class. I’ve had people tell me they have to leave early, or apologize for coming in late – but I’ve never been offended, and I would NEVER make a rude comment like that instructor! When people feel welcome, they will come back to class – even if they can only be there for 20 minutes 🙂

    • Sarah
      Thanks for sharing the opinion of a fitness instructor. I’m glad to hear that you agree this instructor’s comments were inappropriate. I’m also glad to hear you don’t have a problem with people coming and going as they need to. Michele

      • Nope! We are actually told to be welcoming to anyone who wants to attend the class. You don’t know someone’s schedule. You don’t know what injuries or issues a participant is trying to work around if they don’t tell you, and sometimes the class just doesn’t work for them. It’s about encouraging people to do what they can – even if that means showing up late or leaving early 🙂

  2. I think the instructor has forgotten who is paying him… He has an illusion of his importance. It is one thing if it is disturbing the others that are already there. Not like a yoga class and you are breaking the silence during meditation or something.

  3. As a fitness instructor, sorry folks, but nothing winds me up more than people sauntering into my classes late or leaving early – just rude and disruptive.

    10 – 15 minutes arriving late is not a good idea and I would not let people join in –
    For a start off they more than likely will have missed the essential warm up and the injury screening that all classes should have before a workout – Health & Safety is our (the instructors) responsibility. You’d be surprised how many members join in late, don’t warm up properly then injure themselves and then have the audacity to blame the instructor for letting them take part!

    Yes he may have been an little more diplomatic and spoke privately to the person after the class about the importance of being on time.
    As for leaving earlier I find that equally as disruptive as it takes the other participants attention from you as they are too busy watching people get up and leave.

    Most clubs and leisure centres that I work at have a “Class Etiquette Policy” that people are there at least 5 minutes before the class starts to avoid disruption and for safety reasons.

    Sorry if I disagree with some of you on here.

    • Barbara, I understand where you’re coming from. I think it’s a good idea to have a policy like you stated though I don’t think I’ve seen one of those in any of the clubs I’ve belonged to.

  4. Seriously? You come to class late, leave early, and wonder why the instructor feels it’s necessary to instruct the members on classroom etiquette? I’ve been teaching group fitness for over 20 years in a major urban area. I am grateful for having a popular following and full classes and, unfortunately, see people like you all the time. My reaction? I instruct the late member–OVER THE MICROPHONE–to please not arrive late to my class again. It is rude to me and other members of the class. Group fitness is about the experience. If someone is arriving late or leaving early, their inconsideration is a distraction to the rest of the class; it completely interrupts the flow. Anyaonly: Quit acting so entitled. You may snidely wish to remind the instructor of “who is paying their salary,” but, honey…I’m more concerned about the 40 other people in class who are paying their dues as well. Show up on time. Period. If you have to leave early, then approach the instructor BEFORE THE CLASS STARTS and let them know that you need to leave –for whatever reason and ask, politely, if that’s ok with them. More often than not, you’ll get a positive reply. I absolutely hate having to teach adults etiquette in a group fitness class. Get some common sense.

    • I appreciate your feedback Jong. I do try to get a place in the back of the class in order to minimize any distraction I might cause by coming or leaving early. Lately the club has become so busy that if you don’t get there when class starts there’s no guarantee you will get a spot, so I at least try to get there for the start of close and try not to create a distraction at both the start and finish of session.

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