Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Don't let someone who has done nothing tell you how to do anything

I teach approximately 9 classes a week at 4 different studios not including an on an off corporate gig and teaching at prAna as an ambassador. I'm about to add 3 more classes to my schedule and did I mention I'm also a flight attendant and mom and run my own business? Needless to say I stay busy. I love teaching fitness and am constantly trying to think of ways to inspire my yoga, bootcamp, cycle and barre students. I'd like to think I'm a five star teacher....

At least I was.

I recently logged into my mind body online account at one of the locations I teach to find a student last week rated me as a one star teacher. Any location using MBO now has a feature that allows students to rate their teachers after class. It also has a spot where they can fill in any details about the class. At one studio I have comments like, "Natalie is the best" "Her classes rock" "Loved the 90s music" and some don't leave comments at all just 5 stars. When a student leaves a bad star review it drops your rating down. So now at this other studio instead of being a 5 like I am, I'm now at a 3. I did a little deductive reasoning and believe the student who left this review was one of my free week students. I remember him because after class I asked how it was and he said hard. He came into my cycle yoga sculpt class having never taken a yoga class or yoga sculpt and found the quick pace and terminology challenging. I encouraged him to come back and learn more.

Let me tell you something about teaching classes. I get to the studio at least 15-20 minutes before each session and stay 15-20 minutes after. I help students set up bikes, I wash and fold towels, I check people in and help them with their memberships. I set students up on bikes and preform adjustments during class. I remember people's names mostly and use them. I pay $1.99 per song on itunes and I make thoughtful playlists. I spend time choreographing my classes and making playlists. I sacrifice time away from my family to teach and I have spent over $2k on trainings and certifications. At most I make about $55 a class though if I'm there two hours that breaks down to about $25 an hour. I'm not doing this to get rich folks I'm doing this because I love what I do. I am rewarded by changing people's minds and bodies and inspiring them to live healthier lifestyles. I love my work and consider it an opportunity to give back to a community who has given so much to me. I have gotten to know many of my students on a deeper level of friendship and have connected others in the fitness world in ways I never thought possible. I pour my heart and soul into this.

It's not that I don't think there's a place for feedback. Please tell me if my music is too loud or you can't hear me or I didn't explain something well enough. I don't like non-constructive feedback. I can't help it if you don't like my music, my delivery, the way I talk or the fact you came in late and I didn't have time to set you up on your bike. I can't help if if the speakers act up, if your neighbor is annoying you or your bike was sticking. If you've never taken a cycle, yoga or barre class before of course your first one will be challenging and tough no matter who you take it from. I'm not for everyone and if you don't like me that's great because there's a million other teachers out there who might be better suited for you. I don't believe the old saying, "You have one chance to make a first impression" because I think students should give teachers multiple chances...

Maybe I just came in to teach tired, upset, sick or frazzled but I couldn't find a sub to cover for me so I'm having to suck it up and be there. Maybe YOU are having a bad day with your boss or spouse or child and you come in with a chip on your shoulder. We all have off days, teachers and students alike and it takes time to get to know someone else's style of teaching and class format. Give me six weeks before you give me a one star review.

I was talking to my mentor Dawnelle about reviews and feedback and as she says, "Unless you are doing what I'm doing and sitting where I sit, don't give me feedback." We agreed Yelp is pointless as it allows people to bring down small businesses with one individuals biased opinion. I of course, do not have Yelp but I did have a girl tell me this after I wouldn't give her her money back when she cancelled on my retreat and my policy says no refunds:

"I am shocked that you could even identify with a real yogi - I feel people who live and breathe yoga are people with empathy and understanding- you've shown none of those qualities. I won't recommend you to anyone ever again, and I have a feeling your retreats will continue to not fill up spaces with your business practices...."

I'd like to point out that my Nicaragua, Glamping and first Telluride retreat all sold out and that my Telluride retreat next year is almost sold out as well. This girl I'm sure would rate me less than one star and I know in my heart I'm not any of those things she said. I'm better than all of that.

So here's what I'm saying in all - I don't care about how you rate me and I don't care about your feedback. Seriously. Unless your name is Yogi Magee and you are running your own business, you teach 9 classes a week at four different studios and have a daughter and a husband and fly every night so you can teach during the day I seriously don't want to hear it. You aren't me so you aren't doing what I'm doing or try to go where I'm going. If it's something I can change - temperature in the room, noise level, the speed at which I talk or how loud I talk then tell me of course. If it's my personality, how I do business, how I structure my class or my retreats that someone doesn't like then move on and find someone who inspires you more.

Because I know I'm worth more than one star and I won't let that stop me....ever....

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