“This is a Judgement-Free Zone” was a common phrase at the studio last week, and I
loved both saying and hearing it over and over. In a nutshell, this phrase sums up why I wanted to create the studio in the first place, so having it be an accepted idea today, 5+ years after opening, makes my heart full.
It’s hard to try something new and step out of your comfort zone, and somehow this ha become even more true when it comes to dance and fitness. Women tell me regularly that they’re nervous or afraid to go to a class and that breaks my heart. I know they’ve had less-than-awesome experiences in the past that they’re reacting to, and I KNOW what we offer at the studio is a calm port in the storm.
How do you know you’ve found a Judgement-Free Zone?
- Clear Class Descriptions/Policies
The identification of a Judgement-Free zone can start on a website or social media platform. What is the focus? Is there a lot of information about what to expect in a class, or what you should bring? Is the tone of their social media posts positive and encouraging? Do you see images of all different kinds of people having fun? Being Judgement-Free needs to seep into all the corners of a space in order for it to really stick.
- Welcoming Teachers
A lot rests in the hands of the person at the front of the room. A Judgement-Free teacher will welcome new students and offer an initial bit of encouragement and permission to NOT know how to do everything right out of the gate. She will also often refer to experiences of her own learning process, breaking the Prodigy Myth and leveling the playing field immediately. She will offer suggestions and feedback in a respectful way, addressing the specific “thing” in question rather than the person (so, “try with your front foot a bit further forward” rather than “you’re doing it wrong”, for example).
- Welcoming Students
You can often feel out a Judgement-Free zone quickly, and much of that is due to the others in the room. Do the other students greet you with a smile, a hello, and an introduction? Do they help you find the equipment you need for the class, or share with you where you can hang your coat? Do they chime in during a hard moment with how they remember their first time in the class? Then you’ve probably found a good spot. Everyone was a beginner once, the key is if they remember that time and use their experiences to help the new woman on the block.
I want to see the world become one huge Judgement-Free zone, and I’m doing my part by starting with the studio. What other Judgement-Free spaces have you found around town? What are you doing to create a Judgement-Free zone around yourself? I’d love to read your comments!