One of the hardest things to do when you are first starting out in the industry, or even as an experienced freelance instructor is to say ‘No’.

You will be full of excitement, passion, thinking you are Queen Bey in the fitness world (which I like to do regularly lol) so it is only natural to want to say ‘Yes’ to everything. To not miss out on opportunities, the money, and if you are freelance, you don’t know what is coming in next. But there are times when saying yes can compromise your professionalism, diverting you off plan, or even compromise your wellbeing.

It’s taken me years of perfecting the art of saying no, and even now I struggle with it.

As a tutor, you get asked many questions from students regarding this type of response.  The thought of saying no to participants makes any new instructor feel nervous.  Not only for the thought of turning a punter or a coordinator away, but we strive for the numbers and don’t want to be seen as difficult.

It is not being difficult.  It is professionalism.  Knowing yourself, and setting your own ground rules; trusting yourself and remembering it is your class.

Of course you need to consider company procedure, but you will select places of work that suit your work ethic.

Make the class your own.  If your gut isn’t sure, I am a firm believer of following your instincts.  Unless you are indecisive at everything, then take a bit of time. People will try taking advantage.

So here are some tips of when it is ok to say no.  Don’t make the mistakes I made when first starting out; saying yes to everything to get the permanent slot on the timetable, over promising and under delivering.

Plan, be organised, take the best opportunities and allow fluidity.

I am glad I made mistakes as it has moulded me into the professional I am today, but it is always good to share with others.

It’s ok to say no when.

  • You only have 15 minutes to get across town before the next class starts. The 5-minute chat before a class and the time you spend answering questions at the end of a session are worth more than you realise.  It is the best time to build a rapport with your participants, to welcome new participants and knowing the needs and wants of your group will enhance your class content and success, more so than a flustered instructor with no time for anyone, because they are trying to cram in too many classes in a short amount of time.
  • Someone has mentioned an illness or condition you are not sure of. You have a duty of care to look after everyone within your studio.  If its pushing your boundaries than its ok to say no, politely of course.  You don’t want to cause more harm than good.
  • Your regulars are getting too familiar with you.Have your business account and then a personal one.  Of course you will have your buddies and your favourites, but don’t feel like you always have to say yes.  Save the socials for seasonal events.  Anything too clicky will lose newbies and you will value your space.
  • The pay doesn’t match your worth. Be realistic with the going rates, your experience and class numbers, but it always needs to add up.  When considering your rates, do think about the planning time, business expenses and value you can bring to the centre.  Minimum wage will only cover the time within the studio.
  • If you are already at the max and you’ve planned in some well earned time off. Value the days off, your body and mind will thank you.  Always ‘on the go’ won’t help your creative juices and focus. A time out is needed for balance. Always plan in a day or a morning off. Don’t just function, flourish.
  • The deal doesn’t sound right. I’ve heard crazy stories on courses from students. They are only paid if numbers are over 8 in the class, or money is deducted from the permanent instructors wage because a cover instructor cancels a class later down the line.  You completed the work.  Be your own boss and be on the books to ensure payment.
  • Instagram can wait. Some participants lack confidence and self-esteem.  Getting these beauties on board is the most rewarding. Don’t give them a reason to stay away. They are already worried their leggings aren’t the latest, how they look when getting sweaty, or anxious they don’t know what’s going to come.  Don’t then surround them with constant photos.
  • Other instructors are getting too bitchy. Don’t ever apologise for being you.

“Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it.” ~ Elastigirl

And don’t you forget it!

by Kt Horsley-Page