late student

What To Do When You Have Students Who Are Chronically Late for Class

There are frequent discussions in online fitness forums on what to do when someone comes in late to class. Some instructors take it personally and get offended, others simply see it as a distraction, some don’t care. While it can be a distraction to the rest of the class, how you handle it can be instrumental in keeping all riders happy and coming back. If you don’t have specific and posted club policy that prohibits access to class after the start time (in which case you should adhere to policy), here are some of Bill Roach’s ideas for making sure everyone feels welcome while minimizing distractions.

Pop Quiz: A student comes to your class late. What do you do?

  1. Give the student a stern look to let them know they shouldn’t be late.
  2. Make a big deal of the student’s late arrival by interrupting class because of them.
  3. Quietly acknowledge the student’s arrival but proceed to teach the class. When possible, unobtrusively check on the student to make sure they are OK and know what the class plan is.
  4. Talk to the student after class about their being late, especially if they are habitually late.

As is so often the case, the answer to this question is situational. It depends.  


  1. I didn’t have problem late students until this summer. I teach a split (cycle and floor exercise)class Sunday mornings. The class starts at 8:30 and runs 1 hour. This gives me just enough time to make it to Church where I am an usher. This summer, people would wander in at 8:30 or later and I being accommodating, would delay the start of the class until everyone was set up and ready. Finally I made the announcement that I would be starting the class promptly at 8:30 and ending at 9:30 simply because I needed to get to church. One lady apologised but everyone has arrived on time since then. Thankfully the starting time will change to 8:00 am in September and I’ll be able to have a shower before I leave for Church.

    1. Author

      Thanks Robert. It speaks to how we all juggle our lives and thst as instructors we need to respect that. You comment reminds me that perhaps i have gotten a bit lax on starting right on time. Good thoughts.

  2. Great article. I have one student who is almost always late b/c of work. We have worked out that I set up her bike (I wrote down her settings) so when she comes in 2-5 min. after class starts, she just hops on and the distraction is minimal.

    1. Author

      Bonnie! What a WONDERFUL idea! I love it. It is very “student-centered” and practical. It should be a best-practice for those students who you know are really committed but simply can’t make it on time. Thanks for sharing

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