This past weekend I was visiting a friend in Denver. My friends, truly friends that I hang out with and adore, stepped in to teach my classes over the weekend. Someone asked me yesterday if the attendance go’s down when my classes are subbed. I guess it does. I can’t put a number on it, but there are definitely people that see my name isn’t on the schedule and decide to do something else.
If this were the measure of how good I am at my job, I would take that drop in attendance as encouragement that I have a loyal following. But there are a lot of other factors at play. People just get used to you. Familiarity breeds liking. Shitty disengaged teachers have followings if they show up long enough. Also, people are fickle. I’ve seen it enough to take some distance from studying my class size. Someone will show up religiously and shower me with praise, and then they stop coming out of nowhere. I see them loyally coming in for someone else’s class and they give me a sheepish look and say how much they miss me.
But I get it. I’m addicted to new, too. I like to change it up. Also, sometimes I change my mind about a teacher. Their way doesn’t resonate anymore, or I’m looking for something quieter or louder or sexier.
Hype is no joke, as well. A packed class creates a positive feedback loop. A value is inferred when a lot of people show up. Sometimes my class is packed, and someone will joke, “Rachel, everyone loves you.” That makes me squirm. I don’t know why everyone shows up, but it isn’t love and I can’t control it.
Timing matters. Certain times of day get more people. Style matters. More people are drawn to hot yoga than room temperature. Season matters. More people come in the Spring and Summer than Fall and Winter. Look matters. If you are young and modelesque and teach inversions, your classes will catch a lot of fish.
One of the first classes I ever taught, was subbing for my studio’s most popular teacher. The class was fucking packed. Like, 50-60 people, which probably broke fire code. Dead center was this guy who is super strong and practically levitates while he moves. I focused on him and started teaching a challenging class. But I noticed he was mad-dogging me the whole time. I kept with it and got through one of the most intense teaching experiences I’d have.
About a year later, after taking class, that guy approached me and said he was sorry. That was super cool of him. He totally didn’t have to acknowledge it, but he wanted to. I guess he realized I’m a human, I don’t know. He said, “There were just so many people in that room, and I was like, SLOW DOWN!”
I’d thought I was giving him what he came for, and I was all wrong. It’s impossible to read people’s minds. It’s impossible to please an entire room.
Tonight I teach in Long Beach. It’s a different crowd than Fullerton. More intense, more fitness oriented. I find myself getting anxious. My trainer tells me, “Sometimes you just have to get in, and give them what they want, like a cook who makes an order. No feelings.”
It brings me back to something I learned at the beginning.
I don’t have to create anything and I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings. I’ll just do my best and try to maintain some healthy boundaries. Because at the end of the day, this stuff is important, but it’s not that fucking important.
Currently Reading: F**ck It, John Parkin