Part 1 Friday Zumba class
The Scoop: I’ve been teaching Zumba at fitness group for 10 years. Every Friday morning.
Sidenote: I intentionally refer the management’s names as number 1 and 2 for some anonymity.
Never a vacation — not one. Rain, sleet, snow or shine. Fevers. Detached retinas. Injuries. I only missed 2 or 3 classes (in 10 years) when it was physically impossible for me to teach the class. But I always found subs.
The management team (number 1 and 2) did not find the subs. I did. In other words, every single class was taken care on my end for 10 years.
I also provided amazing and professional sound system (lugging it to and from class every week), along with the authorized music that I paid for a with a monthly license.
I always thought about what I could do to make the class fun and interesting. I created new and challenging but fun choreography.
I’m was always learning and upgrading my skills not only in Zumba, but in fitness, nutrition and coaching. I also became a certified yoga teacher during this time.
Anybody who knows me can attest my spirit and heart.
I advertised the class. In the first couple of years, I even went to the Eastminster neighbourhood a few times and posted flyers all around the side streets advertising the class. Dave and I stopped because we got too busy, and there’s also a bylaw about posting flyers. But we were trying.
I had the class advertised in my newsletter and on my (Google page one) Zumba website.
I’m also a powerhouse social media user and many people came to the class after FIRST hearing about it from me.
During this entire time I also ran my own successful Zumba business in our area of Toronto, the Beaches. And I always let people know about my Friday morning class.
I expanded so quickly (my Beaches Zumba business) in the beginning that I had to create new classes scheduled for morning and night.
I had no intention of starting Zumba as a business. I first got into it in order to lose weight and because I love to dance.
During the past couple of years due to over-saturation, many new gyms, and other factors beyond my control, my classes started decreasing in size. It got to the point where a couple of months ago, I had dropped all of my classes.
This was because there were often only 2 or 3 people in attendance and not even enough to pay the rent — let alone make a living. I was paying out of my own pocket quite often.
I shut it down. It wasn’t an easy decision for me (very difficult and heart wrenching in it’s own way), but I did it for practical reasons and the stress of running the business was getting too much.
I did keep my Zumba license as well as my insurance. I did NOT retire!!!
While having lunch with another instructor friend last week, my friend said “Are you leaving your Friday morning class?” I was like “what?!”
My friend showed me the advertisement on a Facebook group for Zumba instructors and subs in Toronto. The ad said the Eastminster group was looking for a new Zumba instructor.
Herein lies some irony. The Facebook group the ad was placed on had been created by me a few years ago. Yes, you read that correctly — the advertisement was on this same group!
So I emailed number 1 and asked her what was happening.
Number 1 didn’t even respond to me, but forwarded my email to number 2.
Number 2 who phoned me and seemed sincerely sorry that I had to find out this way, but still insisted me to LIE and tell everyone in the class that I was was “retiring” from Zumba. (Good cop/bad cop?)
I was in shock, so at first I was going along with this sinister proposal. Because that is what I thought would be best for the class — to adjust to a new instructor filling my shoes. Which are big shoes to fill! Hey if they had any decency or consideration for my feelings, I would have left with a big party class send off.
But then it dawned on me as the shock began to slowly wear off. Eastminster mngmt. team’s plan was to have me come the following Friday and they were going to present this bizarre proposal to me.
Their plan was for Friday (Feb. 16) to be my last class. And at that time I was to tell the class that I was retiring from Zumba and moving on.
They didn’t plan on me being alerted about the ad on Facebook by one of my instructor friends.
(Nevermind it was on my own Facebook group!)
The whole thing is shenanigans. If management been straightforward and honest with me, we could’ve dealt with things in a much healthier way.
They say that numbers have dropped and that is the basis for their decision. Yes, they have dropped. However, when I started there 10 years ago, there were maybe 7 or 8 people coming out to the class.
Within one year it exploded to 30, 40 or even 50.
This past year the class averages 18-25 students each week. There are a few very slow classes but still 12 to 15 in attendance. There are also a few that have 30 or so.
Sidenote: If they really were realistically concerned with covering the overhead, I could accept that. But even if true, it doesn’t explain why they never discussed it with me respectfully and as adults. Perhaps we could have worked together to find a way to boost attendance. Or, perhaps I might have decided to agree to let the class go — BUT on friendly and mutually agreeable terms. In other words, tell the class the truth that the numbers were down, and I was stepping aside to see if a new instructor could somehow turn things around. I would have been happy to stick around until a replacement was found, and then told the class. I deserved to go out with a “parting gift” and with honour for everything I had contributed the past 10 years!
Sure, I was hurt that they wanted me to leave for no real reason (without even looking to create a solution together) , but I was even more devastated that they did it all covertly and behind my back. And then to insist that I lie to the class (this was not a choice for me) in order for number 1 and 2 to save face (many of whom come BECAUSE of me) was just the knife going in even deeper.
This is intuitive speculation, but I feel sometimes people simply create drama and sabotage themselves because they are bored and unconsciously want the excitement of drama and pain to feed on.
Dave and I always envisioned it ending as a mutual understanding with friendship still intact.
I want to thank everyone who we saw (at Eastminster church) Friday Feb 9th!!
Your hugs, heartfelt and thoughtful card and support really put a balm on our hearts.
It was painful to come and say goodbye, but I woke up that morning and said “I need to go say goodbye to the class in person. And speak my truth.”
It was also painful that the people (number 1 and 2) who created this toxic mess didn’t come forward to acknowledge their roles in it. They were sticking to a story that they didn’t know what was going on and were confused.
When Dave and I arrived to pick up our equipment outside the door, we saw a card. At first we thought “Oh! Maybe number 1 and 2 are apologizing for how they handled this. Ok. We’ll just say goodbye.”
But the card was from you guys (participants in our class). So beautiful and helping us to heal from this!
The heartfelt moment of seeing you the last Friday, saying good bye and the the embracing hugs we shared, got me and you all very emotional, I was choked up and it made it hard for me speak my truth to everyone.
Number 2 saw this, stepped in and started to try to shut me down, by condescendingly and arrogantly saying “ok, Mary, very good” and clapping her hands. That’s when Dave spoke up on my behalf. Good thing he has some natural skills when it comes to public speaking and also knows how to project his voice when appropriate.
Management were still in denial. They were telling everyone that they don’t know anything and what was happening.
My words of truth: I love you all, I’m not retiring from you but I’m walking away from the control and manipulation of this egomaniacal behaviour. Thank you for your support and the beautiful memories we shared. I cherish this class for ever. It was my first Zumba class! I basically grew up with you to be the instructor of who I am today.
To the management number 1 and 2 of Friday Fitness group, I am moving on from you telling me how to run my class and criticizing and nitpicking my teaching all these years — not to mention insisting for me to lie to my students as to why you let me go for no real reason. I am not putting up with anymore of your trying to control and manipulate me. It was not only your group. You don’t own either it, or me. While I appreciated the money, I certainly was never dependent upon it. Without the participants and myself, there would be no class. It was co-created by many people. I did the class mostly out of love. I move forward and forgive you both.