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When Is Too Late to Join a Group Fitness Class?

An Open Letter to the Latecomer in My Cardio Dance Class

Maybe it's because the class was crowded. Cardio dance aerobics definitely provides a certain kind of high that we fitness junkies crave. Maybe it's because I had started to think of the group of gals by the door as my dance posse. We had, after all, for at least seven songs, navigated dancing big while respecting each other's space. We had figured out our group dynamics and spatial relations. Then you came through the door and into our space. You walked in 35 minutes late to an hour-long dance class; you seriously disrupted the vibe. I am not even sure why or how the people running the front desk let you into this high-energy dance class when it was more than half over.

I think we've established that I found your late entrance annoying, but it's dangerous for you, too. You were not warmed up at all and we were doing intense, full-body dance moves — lunging to the floor to slap it on beat, jumping, turning, and, in general, moving fast. The speed and range of motion build as these classes progress, and you joined at the height of difficulty, putting yourself at risk of injury. To protect yourself, you can "mark" the moves and perform them smaller, but this is jarring to all the people around you — you are no longer moving with the pack, which increases the chance of collision. Ouch.

Growing up, I took all kinds of dance classes and all the studios had rules about entering a class late, since being tardy is considered rude to the teacher and to the rest of the class. And by late I mean by only five to 10 minutes (not 35 minutes). The protocol works like this: You stand at the door to the studio and make eye contact with the instructor between songs or exercises. If you get the nod from the teacher, you may enter, but if not — no dice. I was taught this by many ballet mistresses (yes, you can tell by the title they were more uptight), by tap teachers, by jazz instructors, by college professors of contemporary dance. You really need to be on time.

So, Latecomer, if you find yourself in this situation again, my advice is to skip the class. There are so many ways to get your groove on and your heart pumping. Go for a walk. Rock out at home to your favorite music. See if the next class the studio offers is something you want to try. Set your alarm earlier next time. I know it sucks to miss a workout that you were looking forward to, but sometimes it happens. Just roll with it.

Thank you for listening,

The One in the Back, by the Door

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