How to Be a Star Student: 5 Tips from a Fitness Instructor

By Jessica Bailey

Fitness Instructor Jessica Bailey
Jessica Bailey will teach you how not to be *that* jerk in class.

Editor’s Note: Ever worry that you might be a pain in your fitness teacher’s butt? If not, that’s one sign that you might be.

Jessica Bailey, a.k.a. Sassy Girl Fit, has been teaching fitness since the days before Instagram and earning a wealth of knowledge along the way (which she shares on her blog). She teaches a popular class called Barre Bootcamp at the Mercedes Club, and it is exactly as hard as it sounds. She’s seen some fitness class horror stories that have caused undue aggravation to teachers and classmates alike.

At Fixing Fit, we don’t like to shame folks for being different as they do whatever makes them feel fit—but when class behavior seems likely to put the offenders on a collision course for injury, or if it disrupts others’ pursuit of fitness/happiness, we do want to call it out. Here’s Jessica’s take on class etiquette.


Working out can bring you joy. Helping students achieve that joy is one of the best parts of teaching barre and HIIT classes. Be that as it may, truly, some days teaching fitness classes can be an insane asylum, and different days it tends to be an all-out dungeon—for the students and the instructor. Super-hard exercises aren’t the only things that can lead to torturous class environments. I compiled a list of things that are just plain rude in a fitness class. A “don’t be that jerk” guide, if you will.

1. Checking your phone: Why do some people find it necessary to whip out their phone during a fitness class? On the off chance that a critical call is coming through, I understand. However, I’ve had students pull out their phone to check Instagram or Facebook. It is so insulting to me that those students are more concerned with their social media than the class that is happening.

2. Being exclusively centered around weight, not different kinds of progress or goals: I want to scream when over and over again I have to talk a student down because they are focused on the number on the scale, not how they feel or how they feel in their clothing.

3. Not telling me prior to class about their injuries: Every class, I ask students to tell me about any injuries, pregnancies, or anything else going on with their bodies that might be relevant to what they can do in class. I’m not a mind reader. I don’t just magically know about your body. I’ve had ladies let me know after a class or private session that they’re pregnant. What? Any instructor worth their salt will tailor exercises to you, so speak up early on to get the most effective use of both your time.

4. Not listening to my instructions: It is super annoying when students make up their very own exercises during a group class. Modifications are one thing (but see #3 above and give me a heads up before class so I can help you tailor exercises to your needs!), but doing your own modern dance (this has happened, complete with singing a song that was not playing) when the rest of class is doing very difficult moves is distracting to other students.

5. Talking over me: Class is not the time for talking at any audible volume with your friends. It’s a mentality. You’re either genuine about being in a group class and putting forth a valiant effort, or you’re not. Pay attention—it just takes one hour of resolute assurance to draw out the best in yourself.

I hope this list will help you to be the well-behaved student you can be.

Jessica BaileyJessica Bailey has been an active member of the fitness community in NYC for almost 16 years. As a certified fitness instructor, she has taught at Physique 57, Exhale Spa, Pure Yoga, Reebok Sports Club, Sports Club/LA, Chelsea Piers, TMPL and Mercedes Club. Find her on Instagram at Sassy Girl Fit.