Exits are hard. Graceful exits, harder. Cases in point:
- Roger Clemmons
- Brett Farve
- Michael Jordan
- Gordy How
- The X Files after season eight
- Law and Order after season ninety-seven
Get my point? Everything has a shelf life, a half-life if you will. So does your teaching life with any individual class. So when do you make your exit? Here are some of the questions I propose you ask yourself:
I’ve had two major exits in my teaching career, moving on from a class I built and nurtured to a new club, a new situation. Both times were very hard to do, but both were very needed at the time. One was fairly recent, and I may at some point go back in the next year.
1. I was first certified in 1996 at a large club in Vail, Colorado and started teaching a variety of Spinning® classes, but soon had established the evening time slot at 5:30 as “mine”. I did this for almost 10 years. For the first 6 years of those 10 years I was the Spinning Coordinator at the club and ran some really great programs that kept the classes fairly full (except for our summers up here in this out-door-lifestyle area, indoor classes are almost empty), and always exciting. Instructors were encouraged to take each others classes and evaluate them, I evaluated their classes, I communicated often with instructors, we strongly encouraged CECs, and it was a happy family. But then gave that up as I did more personal training (not to mention I wasn’t paid enough). After that, no one quite put into the Spinning program what I had, so after awhile it started to go downhill. Management changed, commitment to instructors changed, commitment to the program changed, and as a result, numbers were down, my interest waned, even though I still loved my peeps. I just needed to move on before I got to the point of hating what I was doing and resenting management (in fact, that had started to happen…and I realized I had probably overstayed my time there).
2. So I started teaching early mornings at a community club very close to where I lived (quarter mile). Going from evenings to 6 am was very hard for me, but after a awhile I got used to it. I always loved how I felt afterward, but getting up early never got easier. A couple of my riders from the first club followed me, and one has been a loyal student for 15 years! I built up a very dedicated loyal group of early morning riders.
Then my husband and I moved and my commute went from 4 minutes to 34 minutes, and my alarm clock went off at 4:45 am. I still kept that up for over 4 years, even through a few blizzards.
Management there let me do whatever I wanted to promote the class, but still, there was no continuity among instructors and hardly any management of them. Equipment wasn’t maintained that well. I found myself reaching the same kind of feelings that it was time to move on, after almost 7 years. The eagerness to teach was waning, the challenge of getting up early was increasing, I felt stale and even bored. It was time to make a change.
This past year I was offered the chance to run a 3-month periodized program at a very nice club in Vail. The commute is even longer (42 minutes) and they only have 10 bikes, but management really wanted to promote a quality cycling training program and offered me an excellent deal. I taught 2 evening sold out sessions twice a week (4 classes total), and this summer it will be extended into outdoor coaching. Pretty cool, but it is still in an experimental stage.
So in January of this year, I found a pretty good replacement for my other class and left with the caveat that I’d really like to come back at some point. My students were very sad, but understanding. The door is still open, and I know for sure the students would do anything to have me come back and get a prime time slot (early mornings are the only real option there). That facility is going through a total remodel right now, including a new cycling room and new bikes (for which I consulted them on their options, but not sure what they decided on).
Both those “exits” were very much needed at the time. Both were hard to do, and a bit sad at the time, but each time I emerged with a newfound appreciation for what I do. In my new class, I was able to go back to old profiles and playlists as if they were brand new. All of my cues were new to my new riders and I felt more excited than ever!
I highly recommend some soul searching every now and then and evaluating when you are still serving your students in the best way possible. You also need to evaluate whether you are serving yourself in the best way possible. After all, if you’re not happy, how can you make your students happy? Change like this almost always yields very positive results. I actually look forward to going BACK to the second club at some point, after the remodel. It will feel like getting back together with an old relationship!
Thanks, Jennifer. I think it helps us to hear each others stories. There aren’t any “rules” here but we can learn from each other.
I encourage others to write in and share their stories. I wonder if anyone has regretted giving up a class?