For Instructors

Acknowledging Grief in Group Classes

By now, most Americans have learned about the elementary school shootings and perhaps also the mall shootings in Oregon. America is a country that has always had a large portion of violence, but when young children are the victims, it affects even the strongest among us.

As instructors, I believe our job is not to increase the stress, or discomfort brought on by tragic events, but that does not mean we should ignore them either. People come to our classes as a way to release stress. Grief is a type of stress; it is exhausting and people can be overcome by it. When I have been unable to put my emotions into words, I have been able to ring them out while riding the bike. It has been a tool to work through some of my own feelings about loss and it may work for many of you out there too.

In Spinning, we have always used the emotional elements of music to lead the class across the terrain and to assist the riders to go inside themselves for motivation and inspiration.

The next class you teach, consider choosing a song that might be in honor of those who are hurting and give people permission to ride for their loved ones and take time to count their blessings. The same mental imagery can be done without a song and actually riding in silence which is akin to a moving meditation, moment of silence or even prayer. This could be done prior to the warm-up or toward the end of class.

Spinning instructors need not be psychologists to read and understand information exercise science has provided regarding exercise and mood states. Many studies have shown aerobic exercise has a  positive effect on the emotional state of the exerciser. It provides a release of negative emotions and decreases anxiety and depression just as well as medications such as zoloft does.

Spinning instructors are in a powerful position to apply this information in a safe and responsible way. To be able to acknowledge that many of your students are feeling sad due to current tragic events, and that they are in the right place to release some of those emotions can be a gift.

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