WSSC: A Beginner’s Survival Guide

So you’ve decided that this year is going to be “The Year” you finally go to the World Spinning & Sports Conference. In a burst of excitement you register, select your sessions and book your flight and hotel room. Then you start counting the days until it’s time to pack. For me, that was last year, and I loved every minute of it. But my first WSSC was not without setbacks, so allow me to share some tips to help you avoid some of the rookie mistakes I made my first time.

Financial Planning
Have a pre-planned budget. For me it works out to about $1,300 (in round figures): $500 for the hotel for 3 nights, $300 for the conference, $200 for airfare and $300 for food and miscellaneous. Before you leave for Miami, check your bank’s web site to see if it has an ATM there. If not, find out what your bank’s fee is to use another bank’s ATM, just in case. The hotel has an ATM, and there is also a Wachovia ATM about a block and a half away.

Session Planning I
Don’t over-ride! Balance your sessions between riding and not riding. Last year I didn’t, and by Saturday I felt like I needed a wheelchair to get around.  We all love to ride, but don’t trivialize the importance of lectures and other non-riding sessions–they are an essential source of knowledge. If your focus is on riding, think of lectures as recovery time.

Balance the intensity level of the rides you select. If the ride has a name like Red Hot Mexican Ride or Team Time Trial, it’s a safe bet that the intensity level is Race Day, or close to it. As a trained Spinning instructor, you know you wouldn’t have two race days in one weekend.

Oh, did I mention don’t over-ride? I can’t stress this enough.

Session Planning II
Lectures and other non-riding sessions are a great way to improve your teaching skills and make your classes better. But how do you choose among so many?

Think about how you put your classes together. What is the hardest part for you? What aspect of class would you most like to improve? There are lectures geared toward just about every aspect of the Spinning program, from music to profile building, from the problem student to the special needs student, and from pedal stroke to bike mechanics. Look for the holes in your knowledge base and fill them. And don’t forget to explore the Pilates, yoga and Resist-A-Ball® sessions. These are all valuable opportunities to complement your Spinning program, improving both your own personal fitness and your club’s group program schedule.

Travel and Accommodations
I can’t tell you how to get the cheapest flight to Miami, but you do have some options for getting there. You can fly into either Miami or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International. Shuttles from either airport will get you to downtown Miami directly.

At the Miami airport, SuperShuttle (www.supershuttle.com) offers shared rides to downtown Miami for $13. Taxis are about $18. At the Fort Lauderdale airport, the Tri-County Airport Express (www.floridalimo.com) provides shared rides to downtown Miami for $18. Make a round-trip reservation online before you leave. Though you don’t need a reservation to get from the airport to your hotel, having one will cut down on waiting time at the curb. You will need a reservation to get from your hotel to the airport.

Miami guidebooks offering more advice on getting around Miami should be available in the travel section of your local library or bookstore. Additional resources include TripAdvisor.com, Travelocity.com and Expedia.com as well as the City of Miami’s web site (www.miamigov.com/cms/Visitor.asp) and the Miami Visitors’ Bureau’s (www.gmcvb.com/.)

Packing
It’s only for three days, so don’t over do it. Mostly, you’ll be in bike pants and t-shirts but sweatshirts and sweatpants to throw on after riding sessions are strongly recommended, as the hotel air conditioning can be overwhelming. Bring a small backpack or gym bag to carry your gear from session to session.

A power strip will come in handy if you’ll have numerous electronic devices to charge during your trip. Bring a notebook to take notes during lectures and to collect contact information for all the new friends you’ll make.

If you are on a budget, and who isn’t, buy your snacks (energy bars, rice cakes or whatever) in advance and avoid the high prices at the gift shop and mini-bar. And don’t forget your bathing suit for the pool and hot tubs.

At the Conference
Chat with the Master Instructors–heck, buy one a drink! Spinning MIs are a wealth of knowledge and they’d love to talk to you. They are interested in feedback about their sessions, the conference, and the Spinning program in general. They want to meet passionate instructors from around the world who really drive the program forward, so don’t be shy–take advantage of being in the same place as most of them!

Make new friends. Talk with your fellow instructors. You will find that you can learn as much from other attendees as from the Master Instructors. You may even find yourself helping less experienced instructors gain a greater understanding of the Spinning program. Bring along a dozen printouts of your favorite play lists or profiles and share them. Most likely, you'll go home with a dozen new ones.

Saving Time
The elevators are a bottleneck, especially between sessions. Rather than trying to get back to your room, put some dry clothes and snacks in your backpack or gym bag in the morning. And use the coffee maker in your hotel room as opposed to waiting in line at the coffee shop or restaurant. You'll save time and money.

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you might have, and if I can’t answer it personally, I’ll try to track someone down who can. See you in Miami!

Bob Rebach is a STAR 3 instructor at Bayshore Fitness in Hazlet, NJ. Email him at SpinBob@optonline.net.

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