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Pardon the Interruption

One last thought about interruptions. They are impossible to plan for and dealing with them can sometimes be, ahem, a challenge to say the least.

While interruptions can sometimes be welcomed — like when a member actually distracts your front desk staff from the latest Teen People issue, I'm talking about more disrupting interruptions — the kind of interruptions that pop up without warning and require poise and quick thinking to deal with.

Here's a good example. Roughly 12 people braved a thunderstorm on an August evening for my Wednesday night muscle class. Although it was raining outside and the occasional clap of thunder could be heard over the 32-count beat of the Black Eyed Peas' “Hey Mama,” the 13 of us were having a grand, muscle-pumping time. About halfway through class, in the middle of hammer curls, a large, older woman walked into the group exercise studio and right up to me, the instructor. Completely taken aback, I attempted to regain my composure, as I said, “Um, hi. Can I help you with something?”

My class, looking as shocked at the interruption as I was, waited for her answer. (I mean, it's obvious we're in the middle of a class — music, microphone, choreographed weight lifting. All signs point to formalized group exercise.)

“Can I use one of those ball things over there?” she asked.

I didn't want to delve into the club's policy about equipment staying in the aerobics room because it would have made my class suffer through another 40 bicep curls, so I said, “Sure.”

However, instead of leaving the studio (props for adhering to club policy), the woman plopped down on the ball only a few feet away. Yes, it was a distraction, but I had no idea what I was in for.

Minutes later after refocusing on my class, I noticed a student in the back row giggling uncontrollably. I quickly scanned the class and myself, but everything seemed to be in place — good form, nothing in my teeth. Then I saw it — Mrs. Interruption herself was doing pelvic tilts on the ball. These weren't subtle pelvic tilts that you might do during a warm-up; these were gregarious movements. Holding back laughter myself, I continued teaching. By the time I finally got the whole class (including myself) back on task, the woman had finished her “workout” and quietly slid out the door.

Although a fitness center should be a safe haven and no one should ever be laughed at, members shouldn't interrupt a structured class and distract other members with their “activities.” Perhaps I should have been more primed for such an interruption (almost every instructor has a similar story to tell), but there's only so much preparation you can do. My advice is to be well rested and take care of yourself properly so when that interruption occurs, you can deal with it professionally. A sense of humor doesn't hurt either.

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