A few months ago I walked into a class I have been teaching for 10 years and everyone was in a tizzy. This is not the usual energy I’m used to getting absorbed in. Before I was able to ask what was wrong, a member asked me if I was aware of the stereo situation. As the word “no” was exiting my mouth, the member hit me with the bad news, “I took class earlier this week and the stereo sounded awful. The GM told us that instructors were playing the music too loud, causing OSHA to audit the facility and force limits on music volume.” Now, I had heard members complain before that the stereo was broken because it sounded bad in their other classes. Every time this was rumored in the past, it was due to incorrect settings. Since I have experience with audio engineering, I have always been able to reset the sound system and all was good. So I assumed this was the case and wasn’t alarmed (thinking pridefully that I could fix it and be the stereo hero yet again).
My riders were right. The stereo sounded absolutely awful. Apparently the club had installed a limiter, which reduces the volume to a certain level (decibel or dB). When I tried to turn up the volume, the music would distort. When I kept it below the setting of the limiter, the stereo sounded like a transistor radio. I was not going to be the hero that day. Since class was about to begin, I had no choice but to teach under the present conditions. After class, my voice was almost gone. Not only did the limiter effect the music volume, but the microphone as well. Even though it was not necessary for me to project over the low-volume music, I found that I had been pushing my voice to compensate for the lack of energy and intensity in the room. After class I spoke to the GM, who immediately pissed me off. He greeted me first, and before I was able to say anything, asked in a chipper voice, “So, how did the stereo sound?” I could have sworn he was trying to edge me on, but I refrained from saying what I really wanted to say and said, “It sucks.” He then told me he would take me into the studio and show me how to use the stereo. Are you ______ kidding me?! Who do you think has fixed the stereo AND rewired the components numerous times over the last 10 years!? He said it was set to the OSHA standard of 90 dB and that he tested it and it was plenty loud. I asked him if he tested the stereo with the room empty OR when it was full of riders, turning the pedals with the fans on. I got a dead stare. That is what I thought. He quickly changed the subject (sort of) and told me that instructors were blasting the music and there were numerous complaints. Now this is true. The riders in my class told me about some of the other instructors who would turn up the stereo so loud that they needed ear plugs and that the music and instructor could be heard outside in the parking lot (which is 200+ feet away through multiple walls). I then asked GM why he chose to “fix” the stereo instead of deal directly with the instructors in question. Again a dead stare.
This went on for a solid month. Members were complaining and providing written feedback to the club. The club ignored the members and even went as far as to tell me no complaints had been received so they assumed everything was good. I really hate BS, particularly when it is put in my face. I physically watched members at the front desk line up to fill out comment cards after every one of my classes. As the weeks went on, I was losing interest in teaching at the club because it was far from motivating. The class was losing riders because it was far from motivating. I kept encouraging the riders (who were left) to continue to talk to management and fill out comment cards. I told them I would also continue to go to bat for our class to convince the powers that be to see the light.
I finally walked in one morning prepared to tell my riders that I would be dropping the class and moving to a different club within the company (this is a big box chain). That very morning, I was told that they replaced the broken stereo with a new one. I was somewhat excited but assumed it also had a limiter installed. When I got to the room, the stereo was the same (it had not been replaced), but apparently the limiter was removed and all was back to normal. What an ordeal. What a bunch of lies.
So here is the question: How have you handled issues concerning club management or studio owners when both the members are pissed (and leaving) and you are pissed and want to jump to their (and your) defense? Even though I never threw another instructor under the bus, I was forced to confront management. I found it difficult being a peacekeeper for the club when I was being fed lip service, poor excuses, and even worse solutions. Have you experienced similar issues? How did you resolve it? Do you have suggestions for other frustrated instructors?