Not my cup of “om”

Last week, I took a *bad* yoga class. The asterisks around “bad” exist because all group class experiences are subjective; one person’s train to soul freedom is someone else’s sad trombone. This yoga class was my sad trombone.

Our favorite yoga teacher moved to Korea so last week, I took a class with a different instructor.


(pic from Portland yoga adventures with Anne)

I couldn’t get into my groove for the entire class. Even though I wasn’t expecting the same class I was used to -I’m always excited to take classes from new instructors- it just wasn’t what I love from a hot power yoga class. Instead of moving quickly from one pose to the next, we held them. The transitions were different between poses. We didn’t do any arm balances. And the musicโ€ฆ oh man, the music. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. (I basically laid in savasana twitching when a crooning, orchestral track came on. No zen for this girl.)

Yoga  1 of 1 4

I feel badly writing this because I don’t like to be a complainer, but I thought it was worth mentioning since it was on my mind. I heard a few people grumbling outside the studio afterwards, so it was good to know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t really love it.

One of the best things about yoga is that there are so many different types of practices and instructors, you’re bound to find an amazing one for you.ย I guess I’m back on my “yoga instructor soul mate” search. I already have a class planned at a new-to-me studio later this week!

So this post isn’t just about “wah I didn’t like a yoga class,” I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve done while teaching, that looking back, I don’t think participants would have loved.


-When I first started teaching aerobics at the base gym in Valdosta, we didn’t have an aerobics room. I taught Zumba, step and spin all in a racquetball studio. One time, the stereo broke, so I spent the rest of the class yelling and clapping. I’m sure a lot of people hated it, hahah.

-I’ve played Josh Groban for cool downs and Justin Bieber in spin class. (I still like the Biebs, not gonna lie.)

-When I first started teaching Zumba, I hardly faced my class. SO boring. I did it mostly because the racquetball room didn’t have mirrors and this way they could watch my feet, but I have no idea how I packed that racquetball studio. I like to see my instructor’s face for Zumba ๐Ÿ™‚

-An awful step class during one of the Pilot’s deployments. I hadn’t heard from him and was worried/distracted and forgot ALL of my choreography while I was teaching. It was a huge mess, and I had to give myself the “don’t cry” pep talk. Since then, I really had to learn how to block out things that were happening in my life and not let them affect my teaching.

Here are some of my major fitness instructor flubs and what I learned from them.

Zumba trot

While I’m still learning and trying to get better every day, it’s amazing how much you can improve with time and practice. New instructors: hang in there! Take and observe classesโ€ฆ and play music that energizes you <3

So, tell me friends: have you taken any awesome fitness classes lately? Any not-so-great?

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!



More: things that yoga taught me

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  1. Mary Jane on July 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I have been going to a boot camp class with the same instructor for almost 6 years. Her classes are different every time and her energy is amazing! She plays loud, fun music and kicks our booties every single time. It’s one of the best parts of my week!

  2. Monique @ Burpeestobubbly on July 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Oh boy, I have totally been to bad classes and even thaught some bad classes! Any time I am distracted (and it has to be a bad distraction if I can’t shake it once I start teaching) I feel like my students/members suffer. Luckily, I have a pretty good following now so I can be honest with them and apologize and they know it’s just a fluke day!

  3. Susan on July 9, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I hate being a debbie downer about fitness classes, because I know the instructors usually work hard and making the class good. But a couple weeks ago I took a Zumba class with a new instructor and it was awful. Her energy level was so low I started yawning. Several people walked out, but I felt bad for her so I stayed. But I didn’t break a sweat the entire time because the moves seemed like they were choreographed for elderly people.

  4. Sarah Fowler on July 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

    My beloved yoga instructor Larry has gone north for the summer, so our studio has had a constant barrage of “new-to-me” instructors. I was religious about yoga with Larry – at least 4 times a week. Now, a month before my wedding, I drag my feet into yoga class. It used to be such a powerful, focused, and calm time. Now I feel like I’m playing yoga roulette each time I walk into the studio! I am sure part of me needs to just check my attitude at the door and be open to new ways to practice yoga, but when you find a โ€œyoga instructor soul mate”, it’s hard to move on!

  5. Kathy on July 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Nerd alert > I love Josh Groban. Is that so wrong? LOL

    • Fitnessista on July 9, 2013 at 10:51 am

      I love Groban, too. There are not many of us, though ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Maria (lift love life) on July 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        Add me to that list of Groban lovers. Beiebs, not so much. And I so wish you could take one of my yoga classes!

        • Fitnessista on July 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm

          ME TOO ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. TheSeptemBride on July 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I usually love BodyPump, but my class last week was awful. The girl teaching was off-beat with the music, didn’t give clear directions, and didn’t come around to correct form. My biggest worry in working out is that I’m doing it wrong, I like to get my form checked!

  7. Carrie on July 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I took a Turbo Kick class a couple of weeks ago and have to say it wasn’t my favorite. In theory it seemed good, but I was hardly sweating and couldn’t help but think that my hour workout could have been better spent doing something else. I don’t know if it was just that the moves were new to me, so I wasn’t attacking them or if it’s just not my cup of tea.

    However, the Bootcamp class that I take is always a challenge, and my legs have that wonderfull jello-y thing going on by the end. Also, we have a great yoga teacher at my gym and her classes are free for anyone with a membership, so it’s affordable and always a hit with me.

  8. Jennifer on July 9, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Interesting that you should write about this… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am a yoga teacher and I had a new student come to yoga a couple of weeks ago. He immediately introduced himself and told me that he had practiced before in Austin, TX … He came back last week and at the beginning of class he asked me if he could face a different way than the rest of the class and got visibly upset when I asked him if he would mind following along with the rest of us and threw his mat down. A few days later, I was telling a friend about him who happened to be a friend of his on Facebook (thanks, social media) so she looked at his profile. His status update on the day of that class said, “Headed out for some yoga…OM” but then the morning after class he commented on his own post and said, “Ain’t much OM happening there- just sayin’…”

    I was devastated. I had to work hard to pull myself together and realize that not everyone loves every teacher. I have a good number of “regulars” but I guess my class didn’t have the OM this guy was looking for. I have to be okay with that… We would all like to think of ourselves as great teachers (and who couldn’t love US?) BUT that just isn’t reality. I have been to a few yoga classes where I couldn’t get out quick enough.

  9. Meg @ A Dash of Meg on July 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    aw sorry to hear you took a bad one, love ๐Ÿ™ not fun. I haven’t taken any fitness classes lately, but the last yoga class I did take was a great one!

  10. M Mitchell on July 9, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Years ago I was a regular in an advanced step class that didn’t have a permanent teacher. They finally hired someone that informed the class that she had just taken a class to teach step. They only thing she could do was a basic step slowed down to a funeral dirge. By the second class, everyone had switched to the spin class down the hall.

  11. Aditi on July 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    If you are the fitness instructor in this situation, how can you tell what the participants aren’t liking? I am a new step instructor, and the attendance in my class has been dropping (may be due to the changed timing for the summer). But how do I know what they are liking or what is making them leave? I ask them how they feel at the end of class, and they say good and sweaty, so I can’t tell…

  12. Hannah on July 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I’m all about MUSIC during the workouts! Last week our spin instructor played “Losing my Religion” during a standing hill- the song is about 5 minutes long, but it felt like for-e-ver…

  13. Tracy on July 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Last week I also took a “bad” yoga class. It was called yoga-pilates fusion and the “fusion” was anything but seamless. Horrible! Never again!

    I did a fabulous slow burn vinyasa today though!

  14. Kelly on July 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I like my fitness instructors to look at us to, but I have to say if it is a complicated step, I like it when she faces the mirror just for a bit for us to get what she wants us to do. One of my zumba instructors is sooo talented that way. She flips back in forth very easily but is good at reading when to face the mirror. I don’t get to take her class this week…. so it is going to be a LONG week!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Kelly on July 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I also have a zumba class where there is a girl that goes to the front of the class and does her own thing! I thought it must be really distracting for the instructor but it is also VERY uncomfortable for all of us. At first I thought she was training to be a zumba instructor too, but now I think she must be a “pole dancer”, if you get my drift! Haven’t seen her in a while…

  16. Julie on July 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I like my yoga to flow pretty quickly, too. Don’t like holding poses forever (unless it’s a challenging balance or standing strength move).

    I love cooling down to Josh Groban! Nothing better! And if there’s an electrical equipment failure during class, I would hope the teacher would keep going & just do her best – don’tcha let my heartrate drop, sista! Kudos to you!

  17. Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny on July 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I love yoga so much, but finding a yoga teacher you don’t jive with is that much worse when you love it so much =( I signed up for a three hour class once, that I thought would have a lot of meditation and different sequences – it ended up being the same thing over and over again with the same music for three hours!

    • Fitnessista on July 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      that sounds terrible haha

  18. Lauren on July 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Gina! Would you please tell me where you purchased your purple bracelet? Thanks!!

  19. Jacquelyn @justjacq on July 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Every time you post that Zumba photo I crack up at the older gentleman right in the front getting down with his bad self!

    • Fitnessista on July 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      he was ROCKING OUT ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Laury on July 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    So interesting you posted this! As a yoga teacher who teaches hot power yoga (Baptiste inspired) I am interested to hear what a student may not like. I am always trying to switch things up and keep my students present on their mats. I love the flow BUT I also LOOOOVE making them hold poses because honestly, it is much more challenging to really focus on the alignment and ground down. It also really forces you to let go of distractions that come up in that moment, and nothing makes me sweat more! I love flowing through (lots and lots and lots) of the sun salutes, but will make them hold warrior 1 and uttkatasana in the beginning to get them understanding the alignment. It’s a mix of flow and LOTS of planks ๐Ÿ˜‰ We hold plank a lot in my class, at random times. And on good days I will make you hold Warrior II for a bit then flow right into the triangle series! I found going to so many flow classes when I was in teacher training (ones that covered almost ALL of the sequence with only a few breaths in binds) I stopped sweating as much, in a 90 degree room. That’s bad. It’s important to mix it up! And hip openers are the BEST thing for strong sexy abs, and they really open you up on a spiritual level—so I never mind holding them, as long as it isn’t one pose for a while. It is just funny because I know what you’re saying here not being your cup of OM….and it makes me wonder if students have come to my class and hated it. I love flowing but the mix of holding those poses and binds are what really works my muscles! When I go to a class and it is ALL flow and we barely hold things I don’t even feel like I worked that hard. I often struggle as a teacher with timing because I like the combo of flow and holding. I hate teaching an hour class because I feel so rushed once we get on the mat. The 1:15 is perfect. I practiced a 3 1/2 hour class after a 2 hour the night before (followed by a 2 hour one later that say and the next morning) with Baron and he is just so amazing–it was the prefect mix of flow and holding hip openers and back bends. He had a gift of keeping me drenched no matter WHAT we did!

    The other funny thing is my studio recently stopped doing as many arm balances in classes. Too many students were throwing themselves into things that they didn’t have the strength to do yet. It is dangerous. When you have a full class without much room that can be a disaster. We have a lot of workshops arm balances and there’s a teacher from the west coast (he’s amazing) who flows into handstands every single vinyasa. He teaches this class where he shows all the cool arm balances and build you up to get into them! If people want them, they can go to those classes and workshops and practice on their own (I still always work crow/side crow and maybe a tripod but have toned down on the handstands/scorpion/etc for a bit). I think, in some cases, people who are serious about arm balance will do them at home. A friend of mine said to me that the people who are angry in the studio when there aren’t as many arm balances are mad because they want to show off. I know that is not always the case, I hate saying that because it’s not always true, and I know I love practicing them once I am in the flow but I also know that the poses I am serious about I need to practice every day on my own! If I have a smaller class and can break it down and really watch everyone it is one thing. Or if I have a class where I know most of the students and their strength. I focus more on building them up to be able to get into those poses by kicking the crap out of them with planks, boats and push-ups though–that is what helps you to go upside down in the end ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ok I have rambled enough! Off to teach a class now hahah…

    • Fitnessista on July 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      but for people like me, going to class is the ONLY time i have to practice. so if they don’t do anything new or *fun* that challenges me, i feel like it was wasted. i like to have at least one new-to-me pose or variation, or practice on something i’ve been working on (like arm balances).

      • Laury on July 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

        I understand. That is a good point, I don’t want it to seem like are classes are not like that. I’m always doing new and fun challenging things in my classes –my students are always on their toes and I work them SO hard! I just mean as far as handstands and some other arm balances we toned it down. And because of that I’m trying to show them new ways to work other poses or challenge them in new ways in things they already do (crow, side crow, peacock). Also build their strength in ways to build up to certain poses, that is important! That is the best way to get them off of autopilot and present on the mat! Birds f paradise for example is the next step from your bind, switching up the warrior series poses and throwing random balance poses in unexpectedly. There is ALWAYS somewhere new to go in every pose and a new way to experience it! Hip openers into flying pigeon. things like that. I love those challenges and I love going upside down too. I think with our studio it is that we have a lot of yoga newbies, many classes are packed, students absolutely expect a really hard workout, we have a reputation for that. And we have a lot of opportunities for students to really break down those more challenging arm balance poses in specialty classes and workshops. Nothing makes me more excited though when a student gets into something new for the first time in my class! I teach more of the handstands and more involved arm balance etc to my condo gym yogis because those classes are much smaller, I have the same people every week and can really work with them. Before I was a teacher I was in your same shoes though. I liked who I liked and I always got disappointed when we didn’t practice handstands in a class. Long story short we are always challenging students in a new way, but there are also times where those challenges don’t involve students throwing them self up into scorpion. I have had many girls and guys tell me how challenging the classes there are. One girl ran a marathon the week before, came to my class and said the yoga was harder! Another guy was an avid cross fitter told me my class was the hardest thing he had ever done haha, not sure if that is a good thing? Wish you could take my class!

  21. Alexandra on July 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Gina, did you take a class at Yoga Pearl? I live in the Seattle area and frequently go down to Portland to practice yoga and trail run in Forest Park. Last year my friend and I went down to practice at Yoga Pearl since I had taken a workshop with Tiffany Cruikshank and loved it. The class was horrible and was mostly due to the teacher. She seemed to be quite into herself. The room wasn’t warm, she barely even finished a couple of basic poses, stating all the time that we were beginners and she was advanced so she didn’t want to push us too hard. We went back the next day for another teacher and had and even worse experience. Needless to say, I love Prasad and their wonderful food, but won’t practice at the yoga studio there anymore. Just recently another one of my friends said that she went down with her sister and had an awful class there. Sorry to be long winded, but I don’t think that it was you at all.

  22. Nicole on July 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Love the title of this post ๐Ÿ™‚

    I took a boot camp class recently where the instructor was a total chit-chatter the entire time. I totally don’t mind an instructor who will say something here or there, but she was going on with stories about her boyfriend and I was all, “Crap, how many reps have I done?!”

  23. Annie on July 12, 2013 at 2:24 am

    I took a power yoga class last week and there was a sub… He had us start by doing crunches(?!), stopped class to teach breakdancing moves (?!), and talked the ENTIRE class nonstop (I’m not exaggerating) but mumbled so it was very hard to hear anything from the back row. The class was also bot heated, which it was supposed to be (which was ok with me since i loathe Hot yoga, it defeats the purpose of tapas or internal heat!), which probably pissed off other people. It’s tough to not get up and leave in those situations but it definitely is a great time to practice patience, which is never a bad thing.

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