Have you ever walked into class and just known it was going to be one of those days? At the front of the room sit the fitness warriors, donning serious faces as they set their heart rate monitors and fine-tune their bike setup. At the back of the room a small riot brews. There is tons of chatter, laughter, and a couple of folks whose voices project more than is tolerable. The front row is noticeably annoyed.
I start class, but the cacophony of voices continues from the back. I throw out a few choice words—not the ones you are thinking. “It is now time to FOCUS! As class begins, let’s direct our attention to our breathing. Let’s take a SILENT assessment of where our body is today.” Everyone in the back has turned to the task at hand except the two projectors. Their voices cut through the heaviest of fog to the dismay of many in the room. To no avail, at one point I say, “If anything other than heavy breathing is coming out of your mouth, you are not working hard enough.”
There is a row of bikes that is practically pressed against the front mirror of the room. This row of bikes is in line with my instructor bike so that only the first two riders are completely visible; the remaining riders in the row just look like bobbing heads. A rider in the front row, right next to me, says, “Clearly they know the last twenty things you said were directed at them.” My response over the mic was, “Clearly.” The riders in the two front rows chuckle at our unfortunate inside joke.
Now, I could have easily gotten off my bike and addressed these two individuals directly, but instead took sadistic pleasure in constructing creative cues that amused thirty-four of the thirty-six riders in the room. While I was relishing in my onslaught against the two Chatty Cathys in the back (sorry, Cathy), a rider in the front row against the mirror gathered his belongings and hastily left the room. He did not appear to be in physical danger as he juggled his towels, water bottle, and a lit smartphone while maneuvering through the gauntlet of bikes to the back door, so I plowed ahead. Thankfully, I successfully stopped the two people in the back of the room from talking without using words: I turned off the music, took off my headset, and held it out to them as an offering. Done.
After class, one of the residents of the mirrored front row informed me that the guy who left was constantly on his phone. The rider to his right told him he was being very distracting. That appeared to have been the catalyst for his quick departure. The chatty sisters had left halfway through the cool-down, but could still be heard down the hall. The remaining riders in the room unified over their disgust in how self-centered and disrespectful people can be. They also expressed being entertained by my passive-aggressive approach.
As I was leaving, there were a few riders still buzzing at the front entrance of the club. The guy at the front desk yelled out to me, holding a piece of paper. It was a note from one of the riders in class. I figured it was either a complaint, feedback on how to better handle the situation, or a paper pat on the back. Instead…
What a thoughtful note; a great reminder of what others may be dealing with. Fortunately, I did not respond negatively or otherwise to the rider who left early, but honestly, I could see myself reacting with little compassion, especially if I consider everything else that was going on that heightened emotions. The two verbally combustible individuals in the back of room certainly created an environment where everyone was testy. I could have fed off that energy and responded accordingly; I’m so glad I held back.
You never know what people are dealing with. You just never know.