Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Making The Gym Uncomfortable
Shah and Dani had just walked into the gym when Ken waltzed in with two kids smaller than he. I put Ken and his pals out. None of them are signed up for the boxing program. Later, some girl followed the older boys in the gym. I went to get mouth pieces for the boys who didn't have any. She had the nerve to say, "I want one, too!" I cut her off by telling her she's not signed up.
The best was was TI showed up asking to sign up for the class. He and sisters have moved, but apparently, not far enough out of the neighborhood. "My mama can sign. . .she's upstairs!" he said. I relished being able to tell him that the 8 to 12 year old class is full.
One of the things coaches can do is not to make the gym welcoming to those who just want a place to hang out. This goes for both kids and adults who aren't signed up but are habitually lounging in the gym. Private boxing gyms don't deal with this very much because no one is allowed inside unless they are member. Municipal boxing gyms, like the ones in the Chicago Park District system, are prey to anyone who wants to walk in. The result is usually disruption of the class routine.
Limit the amount of chairs. I keep one chair out for myself. Sometimes, I have another chair placed near the equipment table for a parent who may decide to sit in on the class. But that's it. Refrain from having enough chairs to seat a small audience. Do the same for any tables in the gym, too. Ideally, the only table should be the equipment table.
Only set out enough equipment for the amount of participants the class can hold or the amount of people expected in the gym that day based on observation. The less gloves, headgear, etc., for those who aren't in the class to grab, the better. When class is over, put the equipment up as soon as possible.
Embarrass people. Channel the phrases your parents used to tell you when they were irritated. I have developed a new phrase: "Am I talking to the air?" Today, I had to snap on a kid three times about pulling on the ring ropes (which I had just recently tightened up). I talked as loud as I could. The kid finally got the hint, and left the gym shortly afterwards. Keep a sharp eye out for people touching the equipment who shouldn't be doing so, and call them on it.
Keep the doors locked. Don't open the gym doors until five minutes before class, and close the doors right after class is over.
Discourage visitors. I remember guys showing up every week with their girlfriend of the week. Others would show up with their own personal entourages to cheer them on while they sparred. This is not a good scenario when visitors end up in the way of the people who are actually working out. Consider how much space there is in the gym. If the "guests" keep showing up regularly, remove the welcome mat.
Watch who is walking in. Greet whomever comes to the door. After all, they may be legitimately interested in the class. Being swift to acknowledge someone will also put off a lot of the ones who just want to roam around and do who knows what. Remember, stuff like gloves and hand wraps can disappear easily. Also, it lets people know who the boss is in the gym. It may discourage those who just want to get a few in on the heavy bags or jump around in the ring.
Have any other suggestions to keep order in the gym?