Late Customer Confronts Strict Dance Studio's Instructors

A dance studio with an apparently immovable late policy is confronted by a customer with what seems to be an irresistibly forceful response.

Work It Dance and Fitness studio in Norwalk has a policy with latecomers to dance classes -- they're locked out of the studio, and the business management says it informs customers of that practice.

And the customers are also told they don't get their money back, according to the business.

According to a Norwalk police report, a 40-year-old customer from Trumbull experienced this policy first-hand on Saturday when she arrived late to her class, found the doors locked on her and banged away at them -- loudly.

When the 29-year-old instructor of a class later left the business at 19 N. Main St., another employee, 27, who initially walked out with her, found the customer who had been banging on the door was walking toward the instructor, according to that employee. The employee ran over to the instructor as the customer swore at her and told her she was a bad instructor. No violence resulted.

Police later spoke with the customer, who said she was upset because she didn't get a refund from the business. Police told her she would be arrested if she returned to the dance studio. The owner told police he wanted to file a restraining order against the customer to keep her away.

Work It Dance and Fitness October 15, 2013 at 05:38 PM
To the editor David Gurliacci, Work It Dance and Fitness understands that it can be a challenge sometimes to get to the studio on time. I-95 itself is enough to make you want to scream on the top of your lungs. Please understand our policy is for good reason: safety, security, and respect. Safety! People can get hurt. As a physical fitness studio, if the client does not arrive on time, they are not properly warming up their body. Each class uses a variety of muscles in various ways. If their body is not properly prepared, they can be risking an injury. Security! Our doors are locked as soon as class is started to prevent anyone from walking in unnoticed. We want our focus on our clients, not on what is going on the other side of the curtains. Our client's safety is of our utmost importance. Respect! It is disrespectful to the instructor and to other clients to expect them to wait or be disrupted by a latecomer. Consider it from the other perspective. If you left early, fought traffic, and arrived on time to your class, why should you have to wait, get a shorter class, or be disrupted because someone else didn't have the same courtesy? We hope you understand that we are a studio that actually cares about our client's well being and wants everyone to share in a great experience. To imply with the words "A dance studio with an apparently immovable late policy" is a negative attribute, is unfair and misleading. All we ask is that our clients be safe, feel secure, and show respect. ~ Michelle and Tony Abbruzzese, Owners of Work It Dance and Fitness.
David Gurliacci (Editor) October 16, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Thank you for further explaining your policy. I think it's a benefit to our readers to know that. I don't know what you mean by saying the policy was portrayed in a negative light. It is what it is and it was reported, as far as I can tell, completely accurately. If some fact was inaccurate, please feel free to tell us what it is. The client said, according to the police report, that you wouldn't refund her after refusing to give her a service. Is that true? What was the reason for that? Why would you not refund a client traveling from Trumbull to Norwalk (or offer her a later class) when you acknowledge "Work It Dance and Fitness understands that it can be a challenge sometimes to get to the studio on time. I-95 itself is enough to make you want to scream on the top of your lungs."?
David Gurliacci (Editor) October 16, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Here's another question, given that you say our horrible highway "is enough to make you want to scream on the top of your lungs": Do you still intend to file a restraining order against someone who, according to the police report, did something roughly like that in circumstances that you acknowledge are very frustrating?
Work It Dance and Fitness October 16, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Anyone that threatens the safety of my clients or my staff will be reported to the authorities. I am surprised and saddened that you would remotely condone such behavior in our Norwalk neighborhoods.
David Gurliacci (Editor) October 16, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Please avoid sensational exaggerating with words like "condone." What's the reason why you didn't refund the customer?
Tami Strauss October 18, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Michelle and Tony Abbruzzese are local small-business owners in a vibrant neighborhood that is in the midst of recovering from the economic downturn. Their no late admittance policy ensures safety, security and respect for WorkIt’s clients and the clearly stated no-refund policy ensures the Abburzzese’s can pay their monthly rent and remain a healthy business operation contributing to the vitality of South Norwalk. As a WorkIt client, I have no problem with either of these policies.
Susan Parsons October 19, 2013 at 04:40 PM
David, I agree with Tami. Some of the classes at WorkIt require great concentration and strength. Some require just concentration. A latecomer may cause a disruption, not because the dance is overly intense, but because it is difficult to learn with interruptions once a class has begun. These classes are actually very, very fun. Michelle, the owner, keeps us all very safe when we are trying hard maneuvers. We students range from absolute beginner to advanced expert. Also, all of the instructors are super nice to us. I have been late several times because of I-95 traffic but was unable to enter class. They don't really relish sending us away, they are all very cool people. All instructors took the time to explain how lateness affects the other students and instructors. If an instructor shows up, they should be paid regardless of whether or not a student shows up, right? It's a typical business arrangement. Please also keep in mind that a student might get really, really disappointed if they miss a class, not only because of the payment but because the classes are so unbelievably good. Feel free to contact me at parsons.s@mac.com if you want to me to explain the details of these classes. I am happy to do that. All of my instructors have taught me how to try certain dance moves that I didn't think were possible for me to achieve.


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