Lessons on Speaking Up and Setting Boundaries

This morning in spinning class the tension was so thick you could cut it, but the two people who were creating it were too self-absorbed to notice.

Personal growth should never stop. Some people go through life bullying — intentionally, but not necessarily aware of it — while others are doormats unaware that they have a choice. It’s every person’s responsibility to find the middle; to balance who they are and how they relate to the people and circumstances of their lives, which is different for everybody.

Who Does That?!
We were all peddling on our bikes, warming up, when the instructor announced with her microphone, “We’re starting out with a couple of songs from Pitbull. This is ‘(Jump Up Let’s Get) Krazy, featuring Lil John’ “, and then pumped up the volume. As we began to peddle to the beat the woman next to me blurted out, “That’s too loud, turn it down!”

If you’ve ever been in a spinning class, you know that it’s all about getting the heart rate up by building and maintaining momentum, and the louder the music, the better. And having an instructor who’s pumped, especially when you’re challenged with increased resistance uphill, is motivating!

Well, as I panned the room, I saw that most of my classmates had a look of disapproval of this woman’s command, but the instructor, not reading the expressions and body language of the rest of the class, immediately obeyed her, and lower the volume went. Nobody said anything, but many were clearly bothered. Each, in their own way shook it off, let it go and kept spinning.

As the second Pitbull song, “Shut It Down (featuring Akon),” started — at the point when we’re usually good and warmed up — the instructor, now much louder than the music, into the microphone she no longer needed, says, “INCREASE RESISTANCE, STAND AND JOG!”

The woman who commanded that the music be lowered is now frowning and grunting; trying to make eye contact with as many of us as she could asking , “Why is she soooooo loud?!?!” Most of the class was looking around at each other like, “For REAL?!?!”

She was right next to me and clearly trying to enlist me as an ally in her complaining session, but I was not fuquitable. I wasn’t happy with her, but I didn’t show it. More on why I didn’t later, in “Lessons”.

All Instructors Are Not Leaders
From the first class I thought that the instructor was just going through the motions of classes and not really inspiring. I’d be poop out of luck if I didn’t pack my own motivation.

She’s very fit and clearly cares about her appearance, but doesn’t seem genuinely interested in her patrons, our enjoyment, nor our satisfaction. Seems it’s just business for her, so she never noticed the angst on most of we spinners’ faces. The energy in the room had clearly shifted, but she’s busy reading cue cards, speaking into the mic and never looking at us. She seemed focused only getting through the class.

To make matters worse, as our spinning was winding down, before we were to move into the weight resistance and core training, the instructor added fuel to the fire when the same woman asked, “What kind of exercises are we doing after spinning?” and she responded, “Well I can tell by how you asked that question you don’t want to do core and that’s fine with me. I have a nail appointment to get to so we’ll just do upper body.” The woman said, “DEAL!” Again, we’re looking around like, “WTF?” Yep, I joined in on the expressions this time. I like her core exercises! They’re different from my regular regime.

We were instructed to jump off our bikes and told, “Some of you aren’t staying but those who are won’t need a mat. No core today; just grab your weights.” Only one person left; about 10 of us remained. I heard someone mutter, “That’s not fair.” Another woman said loud enough for the instructor to hear, “I really need core exercises. I’m skinny but this pouch won’t go away.” Our instructor’s response: “I’ll tell you some diet things to do, later” and proceeded with the quickest upper body exercises I’ve ever done, followed by a brief stretching session after exercising for an hour. “Have a good day everybody,” said the instructor when she was done (because we weren’t!), and we dispersed.

LESSON #1:

Bullies Know They’re Bullies But Won’t Stop Without An Intervention, So You Must Be IT!

The woman who commanded that the music be turned down had no thought that the outcome would be anything other than it was. Why? Because she’s learned that when she barks a command rather than make a request she usually gets what she wants. She got the music lowered and class cut short by making a “deal” for all of us without consideration for any of us. That’s a bully! And most people will not challenge that behavior. Aggressive people know that!

I know that mindset intimately. Without the intervention of many personal growth resources, along with a commitment to respecting the rights of others even when they don’t demand it for themselves, there go I.

My first instinct was to object to the music being lowered; that’s my nature. When she had the nerve to ask why the instructor was so loud, my first instinct was to tell her, “Because you asked her to turn the music down and it changed the whole vibe of the class, that’s why!” By nature, I don’t bite my tongue about anything — even things I should, which is why I’m ever grateful for what I call corrective nurturing: the ability to self-correct what I’d naturally muck up. You have that ability, too, and it’s your responsibility to understand your nature so you can know what corrective nurturing you need to begin cultivating in your own life. Most haven’t a clue.

I didn’t really have a dog in that fight. I had a preference but it was an act of self love for me to exercise restraint. I had to learn that it’s not my responsibility to right every wrong, that everybody is not entitled to my opinion, that I hinder other people’s growth when I stare the bully down rather than allow others to fight their own battles, and that unless I am directly negatively affected by a situation it is practical for me to just let it be. Part of that is to release the offense as quickly as I can, because the more quickly I release it the better for me and the more efficient I get at that practice. The result is a more emotionally stable life — a life of more peace.

LESSON #2:

Passive People Don’t Get What They Deserve, They Get What They Accept. They Must Stand Up For Themselves To Be Respected

One of our recent Grown Zone Radio episodes was titled, Are You A Caring Person Or Just A Punk?

The woman who spoke up did it hesitantly, but she did it. It clearly seemed to be something she might not have done once upon a time. For her, the experience was an opportunity to state her position — practice speaking up when she’s getting the short end of a stick — and although she didn’t get the thing she requested, she exercised her right to be heard. Most times, how you handle the process is far more important than what outcome you get, so kudos to her.

The woman who whimpered under her breath that it wasn’t fair spent the rest of the class with a long face, not fully committing to the strength training and probably still thinking about the “injustice.” I’m guessing that she has similar experiences regularly — a consistent victim, or as I call them, “voluntary victims” because they’re too much of a punk to stand up for themselves.

Here’s what quiet, passive people need to know: it’s your responsibility to draw lines for bullies. Stand up for yourself so that you can begin to get what you deserve.

If you’re wondering why I keep going back, it’s because I bought a cluster of classes on Groupon, as did many others in my class. How many of us do you think will be paying full price when our sessions run out? In this case, we got what we paid for. It was one heck of a bargain, but the instructor is no prize — she loses in the end.

A little humor: the first time I heard Pitbull’s, “Krazy” I thought they were singing, “Them jumpoffs make you crazy, them jumpoffs make you crazy, them jumpoffs make you crazy!” And I was like: I got to go buy this shit! LOL

Later!

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About Zara Green
Hi, I'm Zara Green, A "Do Better" Fanatic and Your Advocate...I'm glad you're here! As a personal growth Author and Speaker, who's Individuality & Resilience-Focused, I spark conversations that expand thinking, encourage effective & productive responses and produce better individual decision-making and better interpersonal communications in relationships. Growing Up with Zara because life is meant to be enjoyed ;-)

2 Responses to Lessons on Speaking Up and Setting Boundaries

  1. mfcooper1 says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I identify with it and see these behaviors played out daily. It is also my nature to speak out on percieved injustice(s) as well and like you, I’ve had to reign it in, pick my battles, and ask myself “What’s it to you?”. I reserve the fight for more serious or harmful attacks on my character or that of those closest to me.

  2. Zara Green says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting, mfcooper1! Personal Growth…it’s a beautiful thing! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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