I love reading Bon's "what would you do?" posts. She's a high school teacher (and a new mom to a beautiful little baby!) so I feel like I can relate to some of the dilemmas that she writes about.
Today I'm bringing you something similar -- except that it relates to my new Zumba class.
Here's the backstory:
I've been Zumba certified since April 2012 and have taught in a few different gyms. I started in a really small location and had a solid following until I gave up the time slot after getting married and moving. It was great - my classes were pretty well attended, and it seemed like people were happy with me.
Somewhere in there I picked up a class at a larger gym, but the problem was that I was replacing a very well-loved, adorable instructor AND she taught during a not-so-favorable time slot. People were so bummed about losing her that they didn't see any reason to do Zumba anymore, and the class kind of fizzled. I still averaged 12ish people per class, but I ended up dropping the class after my wedding as well.
This past spring, I explored teaching at a super local little yoga studio, until I realized that the pay was terrible and the current Zumba instructor was only averaging 2 people per class.
So now we're up to speed. Here's the sich:
I started subbing at the JCC in the beginning of the summer. They have a handful of Zumba instructors, and there is one in particular that needed me to teach her class every so often. But here's the problem.
She's not Zumba certified. She calls her class "Zumba fitness" but it's nothing remotely like Zumba. It's like cardio aerobics to pop music. She's fantastic at what she does and gets 35-50 people in every class, which is awesome. Her personality is unlike anything I've ever seen and she has the ability to energize a room as soon as she walks in. She doesn't stand at the front instructing the class - rather she walks around getting in people's faces, screaming at them, and even sometimes dancing all up on them.
I was the best fit to sub her class because I'm the only one in the whole place who teaches an upbeat playlist. People liked me when I subbed, but they really wanted her to be there, which I totally understand. If you have someone you absolutely love, you want THEM to be your teacher. I was totally okay with being the next best thing in that scenario.
Fast forward to last week. I got an e-mail saying that this instructor needed to give up one of her time slots so did I want it? My answer was of course! $25 for an hour-long workout? SWEET!
So I went and taught last Thursday. I picked my most upbeat and energetic playlist and it all went well. After class, though, someone came up and said, "Hey Kate, I like you, but you need to take this up a notch. We need more jumping and less hips. You know, like [previous instructor]'s class."
I have a few inherent problems with this.
- I AM NOT THE FORMER INSTRUCTOR! We have very different personalities, body types, and even skin colors! I cannot be like her even if I tried. Why would we run our classes the same way?
- Previous instructor is not Zumba certified. I am. Whose opinion is more legitimate on the definition of Zumba?
- Our calorie burns are nearly identical. I've worn my Polar ft4 in her class and my own. Both burn 750-900 calories.
- The instructor always works way harder than the participants and my current class is kicking my butt. I cannot physically take it up any more notches. Perhaps if the people who came to my class would work a little harder, then they'd feel different. I notice that if the instructor does the movement at 100%, everyone else works at like 70-80%. WORK AT 100% and then see what you think!
So what do I do?
(a) Say "screw it" to anyone who doesn't like my class and try build a totally new following. Risk everyone talking about my refusal to make a class that people like and complaining to the fitness manager.
(b) Go against what I know about Zumba and tailor the class to what people like. Learn all new choreography and teach cardio aerobics rather than Zumba.
(c) Something else...?
At the moment, I'm leaning toward option B. This is job and I am getting paid to do this. It's just a tough pill to swallow realizing that people want me to be something that I'm not, you know? What are your thoughts?