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Dealing with conflict in your class

Picture this:

You’re teaching your usual class and it’s always completely packed (go you! But if it’s not – check out this article!). You’re doing a new mix and you kinda-sorta know it. It’s freezing cold, the mic is crackly and you’re wearing completely the wrong underwear and in the middle of teaching warm-up a member stomps up to the stage complaining it’s too cold. How do you deal with this without snapping and making a fool of yourself?

With so many variables at play in our classes: too hot/too cold, music too loud/too soft, people standing too close/in their usual spot, it is inevitable there are going to be tricky situations to manage on the fly (usually right in the middle of a track).

We spoke to some of our very own Les Mills Asia Pacific Staff and Instructors on their advice on how they best deal with conflict in class.

Amanda Breen, Director – People and Culture
Seriously, the times when I have managed situations effectively, usually relating to volume issues, it has always started with me pausing and saying a genuine “thank you for letting me know" - it just allows you to stay regulated and calm before responding. I often use some kind of group involvement also, like a “can I just get a show of hands if you're finding the music/microphone is too loud?” Then a polite but assertive gesture to where the speakers are and reminder that the sound will be louder at those parts of the room so consider this when choosing a spot in their next class.

Deb Rock, Instructor Specialist
As an RPM instructor I regularly get conflict over someone taking MY bike. What I say to them is why don’t you try a new bike for a different ride, different perspective and to challenge yourself on a bike you're not 'comfortable' with.

Julijana Desa, Finance Officer
Be kind! You just don't know what kind of day the member has had. They may be going through a tough time and use group fitness as an escape, but their brain, full of 1000 thoughts, can't establish what is or isn't appropriate behaviour.

Wendy Elphinstone, Trainer and Presenter
When on their phone; I ask them if they’re on Tinder right now or on Facebook? If it’s Facebook I tell them to check in to this class please and say it’s the best class ever!

Dee McNeill, Head Trainer

I tell arguing members that if they would like to argue to take it outside, or to come and see me at the end to discuss. I then make a choice (for example air-con on/off) and invite people to choose a different position in class if they don't like the one they have. I then state that we are starting, so if anyone isn't here to train they should exercise an alternative option. Conflict over, class on.

Audrey Woo, Instructor Specialist SEA
Ask any Group Fitness Instructor what annoys them most and lateness is always at the top of the list! As a Body Pump Instructor, I will advise my members who shows up late to class to be on time as not to disrupt the rest of the members. Plus, they will miss the most important part of the class – the warm-up!

Riyo Fukunaga, Training and Events Coordinator SEA
The most common thing that happens in my BODYBALANCE class is, late comers not having enough space to place their mats hence the ones already there have to move their mats around to accommodate them. Obviously, those who came earlier are not happy. What I usually do is tell them to say thank you if someone moves the mat (in a funny way of course)! Then I get a few smiley faces and the rest goes all good!

We hope these tips have given you some humorous (and helpful) ways to deal with conflict that may arise in class. Our number one tip is, above all, make sure you are dealing with situations in a kind, friendly and professional manner.

How do you deal with conflict in your classes?