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Marietta Mehanni

Are you red flagged?

red flagged

Written by Marietta

March 3, 2020

Dear Marietta,  

Just wanted you to know that your attendance numbers have been lower than expected, and your class has been red flagged.

What!?

Being red flagged

The concept of being red flagged was introduced to the group fitness industry in the late 1990’s and it has caused considerable anxiety for many instructors and participants. Red flagging is when a coordinator compares class attendances to other classes on the schedule and deems that a class is not performing.

This lack of performance is deemed by only one factor: class numbers. There is no other criteria. Apparently the responsibility of this lies squarely on the shoulders of the instructor. It is their fault. Lack of promotion of the program by the facility apparently does not play into it at all. It has nothing to do with the demographic of the participants that attend the class. It also does not take into account the loyalty of the participants, whom may have committed to the class over a long period of time.

I am not saying that timetables can’t evolve, or that classes can never be removed. I have been a coordinator and made these challenging decisions many times. But I knew that there was more to the equation than blaming the instructors or worse still, the participants. At the very least, I would make sure to attend the class and assess my instructor, to see if it was their skill level that was the reason for lower attendances before I took the action and had an instructor red flagged.

If it was, then measures were put in place to assist them with improving their instruction. I took responsibility for this. I also looked at how well the class was promoted and if a promotional push would make a change. Then there was a conversation with the members (face to face) to hear their concerns and to suggest possible alternatives that they may be happy with. It was a  process that required interest, compassion and a desire to create healthy responses to change. Not an email or noticing the timetable (on the way to the class) to see that your class now has a little red flag against it. Yes, this happens too, on a frequent basis.

Communication is a huge part of a healthy team culture.

This seems to have disappeared with sensitive topics like timetables. Instructors are expected to treat their class like it is their own. Finding replacements when sick or away, spending money on updates, music and practicing for hours prior to the class to ensure the best workout experience. There is even an expectation that instructors need to actively promote their classes on social media, taking photos and posting regularly. A challenge if the instructor works at more than one facility, then they appear to be promoting many clubs. I am not sure if that would be appropriate.

The challenge is to shift the conversation from having a class red flagged as a penalty warning, to awareness of all aspects of a class’s success.

Things like instructor teaching skill; promotion by the club; and the needs of the community. Time to take instructors seriously as professionals who deliver with their bodies, minds and hearts every single time.

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