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More Ideas for Tackling the Talkers


     By Skyy McNair




Although we want participants to socialize with one another and enjoy our classes, excess talking can disrupt the workout for others. After watching AEA’s Zoom Roundtable “Tackling Talkers*” with Angie Proctor and Mark Grevelding, I thought I’d share a letter I sent to one of my classes. It was a class I taught for seven years. The talking got so out of control that participants were leaving because of the situation.

Dear Mermaids and Mermen,

First of all, I want to thank you for your cooperation in our last summer class. Those who were not there, I asked everyone for one time to refrain from talking! And to my surprise, the entire class participated. However, it did not look like most of you were having much fun, and no one was laughing; I did miss that part. Nevertheless, nine participants out of the 18 in class contacted me and said they LOVED IT! Now, how do I make everyone happy?

A little bit of history. I have had three members quit my class in the past two years because there was too much talking, and they couldn’t hear me. As an instructor at XYZ Health Club, as you well know, I’m also the lifeguard: this is the only pool where I teach that this happens. The other factor that concerns me is the pool is open to others that are swimming laps or sitting in the hot tub, which that in itself, is disruptive to all of us. 

So, here is what I’m doing during a class:

  • Demonstrating moves & cueing breaths.
  • Keeping eye contact & watching participants making sure they are ok.
  • I’m watching the clock to sync with my lesson plans and listen to the music to cue me on our next movements. 
  • When people are taking over me, and I have to repeat moves, keeping a count where I am in the lesson plan.
  • Now, I have to watch the other participants that couldn’t hear me, and again, I have to repeat moves while keeping track of where we are in the lesson plan.
  • All during this time, keep watch over other people in the pool, and hot tub, lifeguarding. 

Whew, it tires me out just thinking of it.  So, I’m asking for your cooperation so this can be fun for everyone, including me.

  • Please do not spend the entire hour talking! Light conversation or the passing of a good memory is acceptable and fun. If you are talking the whole hour, that means you are not working out, and all my hard work is for nothing. Besides, it’s disruptive to most of the other participants!
  • Keep your voices down if you occasionally feel you need to talk.
  • If you have missed the transition to the next movement because you have been talking; please don’t ask me, “What are we doing?” Wait until I cue the next move and continue with the exercise we were doing. 

I hope this is a comprise we can all live with and still be fun for everyone. Please keep in mind, some people who wear hearing aids cannot wear them in the pool, and with the acoustics, in our solarium, it is challenging for them to hear me, and more of a challenge when I am in the water. 

I enjoy all of you in my Ripple Effect class, and it wouldn’t be the same if anyone felt they had to leave because of this disruption. Fitness shouldn’t be work or frustrating; it should be fun for everyone. Thanks for your considerations for all.

Be Well, 
Skyy McNair

Happy to report the letter worked so well the club laminated it in part and posted in the locker rooms. The fitness center director also put up a tasteful poster by the hot tub that read: “During pool classes, please be respectful of the participants by refraining from loud conversations. You would be surprised how voices carry across the pool. Thank you.” 

*If you are an AEA Member, you can access this roundtable discussion, Tackling the Talkers,  along with several others, at the AEA Website (aeawave.org) under the Members Only pages.  Be sure you log in to be able to access.



Skyy McNair is certified with AEA and in Aqua Arthritis, Hydro-Pilates. Silver Sneakers-ROM, Yoga, Cardio, and Silver Splash. She is a retired nonprofit consultant and grant writer. Skyy has been teaching aquatic fitness since 2010, after recovering from spine surgery and believes that aquatic fitness is the fountain of youth. See Skyy Water Fitness on YouTube. 

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