I had gone to bed thrilled and excited about the plans for the beginnings of FitMamas. Images of birds filled my mind and I was exhilarated with the theme emerging from deep inside my heart. I felt the bird's freedom, strength, vulnerability, and overcoming nature. It connected me to my company vision and my passion soared. The birds were inspiring idea after idea for my logo and branding as I drifted off to sleep.
I awakened the next morning to the bleak, horrific news of another mass shooting. This one in Las Vegas at an outdoor concert where families and friends gathered for an evening of fun and enjoyment. I could hardly breathe. If I laid there silent and still perhaps it would all go away. I began to pray and question God. What’s the use of making plans for the future in this crazy world.
My job on this particular morning was to teach two dance fitness classes in a row. I had to be the “life of the party”, energetic, joyful and fun. How could I do that with the news of this day looming over me and my students?
Then outside my window I heard the answer to my prayers. A bird. The bird was singing. And the thought came to me, “The birds are still singing.”
Birds sing. That’s what they do. And this morning the birds were still singing and resting on tree limbs and dancing and fluttering in bird baths and mud piles and taking flight toward heaven. “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” (Joan Walsh Anglund 1967)
This little business that God has given me is a good thing. At my age, it may even be my “swan song.” But no matter. I am determined to give it my best with every note lifted up to Him.
Dear reader. You too are uniquely gifted and positioned to accomplish good. You have a song to sing. Sing your song! And I’ll sing mine. The birds are still singing.
Practical Advice for Fitness Instructors, Personal Trainers and Professional Leaders
How to address the class with difficult news and then “deliver the goods” (notice the word good in “goods”)
Penny’s ACTS model, following a tragic event.
A Acknowledge: Acknowledge the painful event with straightforward honesty. For example, “This morning’s mass shooting came as quite a shock.”
C Compassion: Show sincere compassion by sharing a few words from your heart. For example, “I feel sad and heavy hearted as we begin our class today.”
T Transition: Start to move into your class format with a few short transitional sentences. For example, “I’m thankful we are together this morning. We draw on one another’s strength. We’re gonna do what we do! Let’s dance.”
S Secret Weapon: Your secret weapon is prayer. Be prayerful as you conduct this class. Draw on the love and gentle guidance you will receive from the Lord. That love and gentle guidance will sustain you and pour through you as a gift to your students.
Note: If there is a difficult announcement you need to make that the class has no prior knowledge of (death of a fellow student, resignation of a beloved instructor…). Save that announcement for the end of the class. Complete your class a few minutes early so that you are available to console and care for your students. Apply the same ACTS model in your announcement. The “transition” will be transitioning them out and into their day. Be sure to apply your Secret Weapon for them as they go.