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Old 05-16-2014, 10:21 AM   #31
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But what if your overweight spin instructor was very good at spinning and teaching spin class? Would you suggest it had anything to do with their weight? And what if your normal weight spin instructor (or tai chi or pilates or Zumba) was a poor instructor? Would you still put the blame on their weight?

I think you're making a correlation between the instructor and his weight where there doesn't need to be one.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:57 AM   #32
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I think you're making a correlation between the instructor and his weight where there doesn't need to be one.
I'm overweight and know that judgment calls have been made on me based on my weight. The instructor of a fitness class will have to exhibition the criteria of fitness, that's not my opinion but rather a matter of course. I did not walk into te class thinking he couldn't teach tai chi because of his weight but after seeing that his teaching method lacked pace, interest or even focus then I got turned off. He has several things to improve, I don't think his teaching would improve if he lost weight honestly. But perhaps he would feel more confidence to not say self deprecating things during class like making references to his beer belly and telling us to ignore him if he did the sequence wrong. He had a lot self negativity - I wouldn't call him on it I'd I didn't relate to it.
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:30 AM   #33
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I agree that you're hyperfocusing on the guys weight when there's no justification for it. The BEAUTY of tai chi and yoga is that they are suitable for all ages, body types, levels of fitness, and degree of (dis)ability.

And preconceived stereotypical notions ARE prejudicial and bigotted. The preconceptions don't make you a racist or any other kind of -ist bigot (unless you refuse to see the beliefs as irrational), but the belief that tai chi is supposed to be taught by a wise, elderly, Chinese man, who speaks softly and rarely - yeah that is a bigotted notion that reflexs sexual, ethnic, age, and body bigotry. It's an insideous bigotry that does as much damage as more overt and aggressive racism, sexism...

What can be "wrong" about wanting a male, ethnically asian teacher for martial arts ... or math (because all asians are really good at math, right?)

What's wrong is that unrealistic and prejudicial notions and attitudes, and beliefs regarding ethnicity, age, and gender expectations (even the "good ones" like "wise, elderly, Chinese man) lead you to judge based on the notion, rather than the individual.


I think your expectations were unreasonably high (in the stratosphere), for any class, but especially or a free class. Free classes are generally not taught by the best instructors.

Expecting a good free instructor, in itself, was unreasonable. Adding in expectations regarding age, gender, ethnicity, fitness level, and teaching skill and style... this guy didn't have a prayer of pleasing you.

Free classes are generally taught by people with more enthusiasm than skill. The super-skilled and those that fit the stereotypical image, charge more - a LOT MORE, because they can. Simple, supply and demand. Instructors who fit the image are in high demand because almost EVERYONE has these same bigotted notions that skill is tied to appearance. Most people don't want to take knitting classes from a teen goth dude or tai chi from a fat biker, even though their appearance has nothing to do with their skill level (especially the skill level necessary to teach a FREE, INTRODUCTORY, DEMONSTRATION- oriented class).


You were disappointed from minute one, I get that. So why stay for any of the class at all? Why focus on all the ways this guy didn't measure up to your expectations, especially in regards to his physical characteristics which have absolutely nothing to do with his actual knowledge or ability to do and demonstrate tai chi.

The great thing about tai chi is that fat, out-of-shape folk CAN do it.

His lack of skill makes sense for a free intro class. Even the demonstration/talk teaching strategy makes sense (prevents people from hurting themselved during his class and then sueing him - only one of the reasons better and more experienced teachers charge for their services to cover or offset these potential costs).

So the guy was a lousy teacher (for your needs, anyway). He had all the qualifications necessary to teach a free demonstration - the desire and willingness to share what he has learned.

There are no implied or expressed warantees to free classes. At best you get exactly what you got - some shmoe trying to share their (usually) limited knowledge.

There should be no surprise in a free, intro, single-class teacher being an atypical, poor teacher of limited ability. Anything but total disappointment is a win, and total uselessness is a risk you take with any free classes.

Teaching is difficult, and if you are any good at it, you charge, just because you can and because you deserve the compensation.

If you want to learn to teach, or just want to share your love of a hobby, you teach for free to gain practice and skill - or just to find hobby-buddies.

It's just like taking a free painting class. If the teacher has any artistic OR teaching ability, it's a freakin' miracle.

There's no need to judge the teacher beyond "that was a waste of my time," which should have been a possibility you were prepared for with any free, intro class.

All you can really say about or expect in a free teacher is that the person wants to share their time with others. What if anything they actually CAN teach is another story.

In any case, the guy's weight and appearance have absolutely nothing to do with his ability to teach and do basic tai chi. If he was a lousy teacher that is an entirely different and UNRELATED matter.

You're making them related, and they're not. It's as if you are sayong, "of course he was a terrible teacher, he was fat and white."
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:40 AM   #34
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. The instructor of a fitness class will have to exhibition the criteria of fitness, that's not my opinion but rather a matter of course.
Not for a free program. Aside from tai chi being practiceable for all bodies, not just trm, fit ones, free community programs are often (heck, usually) taught by the relatively unskilled non-experts.

Firstly, fitness and fatness aren't mutually exclusive concepts everywhere. Sumo wrestlers are fit AND fat, and as I understand it, considered fit and even sexy.

American culture refuses to see fitness and fatness as anything but mutually exclusive concepts, but this isn't true everywhere.

However that's not even an issue when it comes to free community volunteer-based classes.

They're almost always taught by relatively unskilled volunteers. You have beginner hobbyists of all kinds trying to teach their hobbies - mediocre crafters teaching art, woodworkers trying to teach cabnetry, couch potato dads trying to teach kids baseball.

For free fitness classes there is no expectation of expertise, and very rarely do you get it. If the guy had been a great teacher, or even just a guy who physically met your expectations - that would have been more noteworthy.
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:51 AM   #35
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I think people are seriously taking the whole thing too far. EVERYONE stereotypes to some degree. It's important to realize that you are doing it, but good luck trying to stop doing so. I don't think we should throw her under the bus because she wasn't expecting an overweight instructor. I was thinking about something similar yesterday: In many (not all!) Chinese food restaurants, the cook and most of the staff are Chinese. Because I am so used to seeing it that way, I would be a little surprised if I went to a new restaurant that was not staffed by mostly Chinese. Being surprised by something is not the same as making judgement about them. They could make the best Chinese food I have ever tasted. She was surprised that her instructor was overweight and not Chinese, but she didn't make judgments about his class until it wasn't very good. When you see fitness instructors as all being fit (which is pretty common, but not the rule), and then you meet one who isn't, it is surprising. We all come to conclusions like this, and while I agree that it's important to realize that something happening often doesn't make it a rule or the gold standard, it certainly doesn't make her racist or another type of -ist.
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:35 PM   #36
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I think people are seriously taking the whole thing too far. EVERYONE stereotypes to some degree. It's important to realize that you are doing it, but good luck trying to stop doing so. I don't think we should throw her under the bus because she wasn't expecting an overweight instructor. I was thinking about something similar yesterday: In many (not all!) Chinese food restaurants, the cook and most of the staff are Chinese. Because I am so used to seeing it that way, I would be a little surprised if I went to a new restaurant that was not staffed by mostly Chinese. Being surprised by something is not the same as making judgement about them. They could make the best Chinese food I have ever tasted. She was surprised that her instructor was overweight and not Chinese, but she didn't make judgments about his class until it wasn't very good. When you see fitness instructors as all being fit (which is pretty common, but not the rule), and then you meet one who isn't, it is surprising. We all come to conclusions like this, and while I agree that it's important to realize that something happening often doesn't make it a rule or the gold standard, it certainly doesn't make her racist or another type of -ist.

No one's throwing anyone under the bus, and the issue isn't the surprise, it's the repeated statements that have been made to justify the judgement and tie the guy's weight and physical appearance TO his ability to teach.

This was just one (possibly) lousy teacher who HAPPENED to be fat and white.

The guy could have been a 70 year old, soft-spoken Cinese man who was also a lousy teacher. Some other fat, white guy might be an extraordinary teacher.

It's the repeated assertion that expecting an elderly Chinese gentleman or at least a fit-looking instructor are reasonable expectations, that some of us have taken issue with, along with the implication that fat instructors shouldn't be teaching fitness or movement-based classes, even if they are volunteering their time for an intro demonstration class.

Frankly, it reinforces the notion that fat people have no business volunteering to teach or lead an exercise or movement class, even if they are experienced, even if they volunteer to do it freely, because students, even students who aren't paying, have a RIGHT to have their stereotypical expectations met.

Continuing to justify the expectation for a fit-looking instructor (for a free, intro class) makes it harder to believe that the instructor's appearance had no bearing on the judgement of the guy's teaching style.

If it was only the guy's teaching style, OP wouldn't continue to justify and rationalize her appearance-based expectations (especially for a type of class for which the teaching qualifications are simply a desire to teach).

Anyone can teach a free hobby class, and there's nothing wrong with a fat, bearded, white guy trying to teach an intro tai chi class, even if he's not very good at it.

It's no different than me teaching a free knitting demonstration for left-handed knitters like myself, even though I'm not terribly good at knitting yet. I know enough to possibly teach a free, basic, single class intro. I've never taught knitting before, so I'm not sure if I'd be any good, but my appearance has nothing to do with my teaching ability, even though people will judge me by my appearance.

I don't have a problem with op's initial stated prejudices against a fat, white tai chi instructor. I have a problem with her clinging to the prejudice - her assertion that she has a legitimate right to expect that a tai chi instructor of a free class meet her stereotypical expectations (or at least not be fatter than she'd like).

Yes, overcoming prejudices is difficult, but the only way to do so, is to have them challenged by others and ourselves - not by defending them in ourselves or in others.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:21 PM   #37
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I think you've made your point kaplods. You have misjudged, misconstrued what I said and mischaracterized me. You have called me a racist and you are badgering me. Please stop.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:37 PM   #38
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We are all judgmental, if we want to admit it or not. You at least realized you were probably making judgements - THAT is the important thing.

Of course, the disappointment in the class had nothing to do with his looks, for the most part, but if he was constantly making self depreciating comments, that would make any listener uncomfortable.

But I think we do, as a society (who cares if it's free or not) have 'ideas' of who should be teaching/telling us about health and fitness.

Like, the first time I was told I should lose weight was by my very obese primary care physician. Really? YOU are telling ME?

And, I do think fitness instructors should look the part. Why? Because it convinces me that they walk the talk. Now, do they need to be perfect in their appearance? OF COURSE NOT, but they should be fit or people will judge them. First impressions are important.

And I'm saying that as being PURELY HONEST. Now, if I got to know that person and had them as an instructor over time, I would probably know their back story more and like most first impressions, I might get over my judgement, but my first judgement/impression would probably be negative if I had an unfit, overweight fitness instructor.

There is a fitness instructor at our association that is a belly dancer. Now, she is not just a little heavy, she is VERY, VERY heavy. HOW can she show the moves the way they are supposed to be done? I've watched her. She cannot.

There is another instructor that is a zumba instructor that is overweight and not very fit. I stopped going to her class because she didn't do any "fast" music, just a lot of hip movement and bumps and grinds because she wasn't fit enough to do the more fast paced moves.

NOW... That was ME and when I was fitter... they couldn't work me to the level I needed to work at. Now that I'm out of shape? I might choose those classes as a lower pace (though they are not described to be at a lower level, though they are).

I don't think it matters if a class was free or not - if you take your time to show up to a class - even a free one, you want to feel it was worth your time. You didn't go to be talked to. You went to do Tai Chi.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:43 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skittlez View Post
I think people are seriously taking the whole thing too far. EVERYONE stereotypes to some degree. It's important to realize that you are doing it, but good luck trying to stop doing so. I don't think we should throw her under the bus because she wasn't expecting an overweight instructor. I was thinking about something similar yesterday: In many (not all!) Chinese food restaurants, the cook and most of the staff are Chinese. Because I am so used to seeing it that way, I would be a little surprised if I went to a new restaurant that was not staffed by mostly Chinese. Being surprised by something is not the same as making judgement about them. They could make the best Chinese food I have ever tasted. She was surprised that her instructor was overweight and not Chinese, but she didn't make judgments about his class until it wasn't very good. When you see fitness instructors as all being fit (which is pretty common, but not the rule), and then you meet one who isn't, it is surprising. We all come to conclusions like this, and while I agree that it's important to realize that something happening often doesn't make it a rule or the gold standard, it certainly doesn't make her racist or another type of -ist.
That's not a parallel comparison.
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:07 PM   #40
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Everyone judges and if you claim you don't you're a liar, or not human. Plain and simple.
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:15 PM   #41
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It's no different than me teaching a free knitting demonstration for left-handed knitters like myself, even though I'm not terribly good at knitting yet. I know enough to possibly teach a free, basic, single class intro. I've never taught knitting before, so I'm not sure if I'd be any good, but my appearance has nothing to do with my teaching ability, even though people will judge me by my appearance.
Knitting is very different than trying to teach people a martial art that requires physical agility.
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:39 PM   #42
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But what if your overweight spin instructor was very good at spinning and teaching spin class? Would you suggest it had anything to do with their weight? And what if your normal weight spin instructor (or tai chi or pilates or Zumba) was a poor instructor? Would you still put the blame on their weight?

I think you're making a correlation between the instructor and his weight where there doesn't need to be one.
She didn't say overweight she said obese. Somebody overweight could probably kick my a** in a spinning class but again we're talking about a marital art that requires physical agility. Somebody that's obese usually has limited movement which is why she stated he spent 10 minutes explaining how to modify a movement in order to get around his "beer belly". I would've become irritated too and left. So what??

Talk about judging, look at some of your replies. This thread is laughable.

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Old 05-16-2014, 06:42 PM   #43
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:52 PM   #44
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No, not really odd that someone who is overweight is teaching a class like this. I do understand how you felt though. It is hard not to judge and ask yourself "why".

Hang in there and give it another chance.

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Old 05-16-2014, 07:10 PM   #45
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Seems that the OP has received a number of useful answers to her post so the thread can now Rest In Peace.
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