By Sabrina Fairchild, Spinning® Master Instructor | California, United States
Spinning® classes are a group exercise, therefore we are group exercise instructors. However, when we compare teaching Spinning to other cardio conditioning modes, such as step or dance aerobics, there are significant differences. Teaching Spinning is more akin to coaching a sport due to the equipment being used and the wide variety of fitness levels among riders. In a Spinning class we have the option of instructing a ride by physically modeling technique and form on the bike or coaching and directing a class from the floor. Both have benefits, but when we coach from the floor, we can connect with the riders on a different level.
How to Coach from the Floor
While there are many benefits to coaching from the floor, it is a technique that should be used carefully. Instructors who teach on the bike are able to offer their participants a role model of form and technique. They feel what their riders do when they cue to accelerate, increase resistance or change position. They provide encouragement, not just verbally, but visually when the participants look at how hard their instructor is working. However, enables you to provide riders with one-on-one attention, personal feedback or assistance with goal setting. When riders rely on having the instructor in the saddle, they may not grow beyond being extrinsically motivated, which influences exercise adherence.
Why Instructors Need Floor Time Too
Teaching on the bike also affects instructors. It places pressure on instructor to perform, which can lead to overtraining and lead to burnout and fatigue. The worst offense is when instructors use their teaching position as personal workout time, causing them to ignore the needs of their riders. It is good for all instructors take inventory of their teaching characteristics, keep what works best and consider developing new qualities to feature through floor coaching.
What Spinning® Instructors Need to Remember
Though there are some downsides to coaching on the floor, there are many benefits for both instructors and riders. Coaching the entire class from the floor may leave a void when it comes to modeling form and technique, so it may be prudent to combine floor coaching with on-the-bike instructing. Riders also benefit from having a coach that is focused solely on them and not on their own training, which leads to better classroom management. Instructors who coach from the floor can more quickly nip behavior in the bud that is not conducive to a respectful, group exercise atmosphere. An instructor who can weave techniques for coaching on and off the bike can generate a productive environment where people feel valued and they will be motivated to return. This is the ultimate situation for instructors because it allows us to balance our physical energy in order to increase our teaching load without injury.
In order for floor coaching to be successful, instructors must prepare in advance just as they would for any other training session. Some steps to consider in order to transition from teaching solely on the bike to incorporating some coaching from the floor:
Before Your Class
After planning the ride profile and music, choose one or two songs to teach off the bike. The best songs will be around five minutes or longer depending on the average number of participants. Create an objective for each song that fits the overall goal of the ride (i.e. Goal = Strength Energy Zone™; Objective #1 = form for Standing Climb; Objective #2 = break away on the hill). Listen to the songs that will be used during the floor coaching sections and take notes on musical elements that may be utilized for cueing. Review the Spinning Instructor Manual and take notes on descriptions of positions or techniques to be used during floor coaching.
Collect any tools to enhance floor coaching: clip board, note cards, whistle, clock, metronome, sticky notes/pens, deck of cards, flashlight, etc.
- Clipboards can be used for anything from names of participants to teaching notes.
- Note cards may be easier to handle than a clipboard and they can be tucked into the back pocket of a jersey.
- Whistles are classic tools for referees and coaches. They can be used to start or stop a drill as opposed to yelling.
- Clocks are terrific tools and can be held right in front of a rider to encourage him or her to work hard for 10 more seconds.
- Metronomes may be purchased at any music supply store and in lieu of a cadence computer, may be set to any cadence range.
- Choose one with a light that blinks and hold it up to a student so he or she may strive for the correct cadence.
- Sticky notes may be used to create nametags for the bikes, to give out speeding tickets, to write down compliments or to play the “Least Favorite Position Game” where students write down their most uncomfortable position, like Jumps, and attach it to the bike. During floor coaching, the instructor gives feedback on that position.
- A deck of cards may be used by attaching a position, cadence, or technique to certain cards and having riders choose a card from the deck, which in turn decides what will be performed next.
During a Spinning® Class
Give an overview of the ride and explain that it will include floor coaching for the particular objectives chosen, as well as the benefits members will receive from having one-on-one coaching. Give a signal for riders who do not wish to be approached for one-on-one coaching. Just prior to getting off the bike, remind students of the purpose of floor coaching, as well as the intention to coach every rider unless signaled otherwise. And don’t forget to consider muting the microphone while attending to individual students.
During the cool down, review the objectives of the floor coaching sections and give some group feedback on the observations made. Answer questions that riders have. For example, a student could ask why her feet go numb and the answer could be shared with the whole group, as it is relevant to bike comfort.
Lastly, instructors who are as energetic with their body language during floor coaching as they are while riding the bike are the most successful at combining the two methods of teaching. Get off the bike and enjoy the benefits that floor coaching has to offer.