To Teach or Not To Teach?
I never thought I would become a fitness instructor. Growing up, my brother was the athlete and I was the brain. As I grew older, fitness became important to me. We have all heard reasons to get fit—to improve our health, to look good, to live longer and many more. I always wanted to be in shape, but finally started to do something about it after I had my two children. I hurt my back one day when putting my sweet, chubby baby into her crib and ended up going to physical therapy for the rest of the summer. I made it my goal to shed the weight and improve my health to avoid future injuries.
Spinning® classes were something I thought I could do. I signed up for a class at the gym and fell in love immediately! I liked feeling like an athlete in a room where nobody judged me and it didn’t matter if I was in first place. It was just important to me to finish the race with a team! That is what my Spinning classes had become. It allowed me to feel as if I was finally on a team where I could be the athlete I always aspired to be. I continued to take Spinning classes to be with my new team and to continue my personal race to fitness.
As I became more confident in my abilities, and kept the pace or surpassed the instructors, I realized there was something wrong with the consistency of my classes. Some of the Spinning instructors were great, with wait lists for their classes. These instructors were engaging, full of energy, had great music and we always left smiling and dripping with sweat when our ride was over. But, there were other instructors who were dreadful. Their classes had many open seats and after attending their classes I could see why. They were boring! Imagine Mr. Rogers leading a Spinning class. The instructor’s voice was monotone and barely audible, the music was lackluster and uninspiring and the moves were the same every single class. All I could do was stare at the clock and daydream about how I would improve this class if I were the instructor. Finally, I decided, to do something about it.
I researched the requirements to become a certified Spinning instructor at www.spinning.com. Then, I asked the director of my gym about the possibility of becoming a Spinning instructor there. She said they are always hiring and thought I’d be great, due to my teaching background. I was sold! I took the 9-hour Spinning Instructor Orientation with the amazing Master Instructor, Jennifer Ward. We learned about bike setup, heart rates, cadence checks, and maintenance, the real Spinning movements (not the incorrect and painful hovers that we were doing in my other classes), music selection and how to create Spinning class profiles.
I was excited to put all of my knowledge and enthusiasm to use. After a six-week wait, I got the phone call asking if I could teach a Spinning class the next week! I began putting playlists together and imagining what I wanted my 45-minute class to look like.
Initially, I arranged 70 minutes of music and wrote three pages of notes and instructions. It took some time, but I whittled it down to 45 minutes and two pages of instructions. I needed my Spinning profile symbols, song length, time elapsed, directions to tell students, tips to share and song names on my cheat sheet. My class was going to be fun and we weren’t going to have any “clock-gazers” on my ride. I wanted to inspire and motivate them to have fun and get healthy.
I packed my bag with too many supplies including tape, so the fans wouldn’t blow my cheat sheet away, a whistle, to keep students on track, extra water, extra music, a flashlight, a marker and a few other silly things. The tape was a good idea; everything else was too much. Plus, my nerves were killing me. I was excited and nervous simultaneously. Fortunately, the Spinning room was dim, or else they would have seen how red and shaky I was for my first class as a Spinning instructor.
Every student that entered the Spinning room was greeted by me, with a smile and a hearty handshake. I wanted everyone to feel important and be connected with me. There was only one available seat left as we started our ride. Then one of the students said there was a problem with the strap on her pedal. Fortunately, I had an excellent instructor (thank you Jennifer) and I immediately replaced the strap through the pedal. I knew I had their confidence as an instructor at that point and relaxed.
With all eyes on me, I took my students on our first ride together. They did everything I asked of them. I only used about half of the information on my cheat sheet, but I could see a difference in them from only one class. Students used correct posture, they performed cadence checks appropriately and they even applauded and congratulated me at the end of the class. The next week, my class was full and I even had a waiting list. Since then, my cheat sheet is only one page and the feedback I get motivates me every week to continue my job as a Spinning instructor and enthusiast.
So what are you waiting for? Become certified and teach—it is rewarding beyond words.