I receive a lot of emails each week from instructors all over the United States. I appreciate them and I think of them as a compliment as far anyone wanting my opinion on a subject. Thanks to all of you who reach out to me. I hope in some small way, I have helped.
By far, most of the emails I receive are about difficult students and how to handle them. I guess most people think that since I work with two to five year old children with behavioral needs, I should be able to shed some light on working with difficult adults.
The two concerns I read about the most are: talking during class sessions and students performing contraindicated movements while on the bike.
The talking situation is clearly a challenge because it’s a purposeful behavior. The people doing it are clearly aware of their actions and the potential impact it can have on those around them, they most-likely just don’t care. Many people ask me if they should just approach these participants and ask them to “be quiet.” I guess you can, but I’m not that brave and I always think those interactions leave the room environment with a very negative feeling. I prefer to do something more meaningful and more natural. Change the current position or intensity demand of the movement. If you are sitting, stand them up. If everyone is standing, sit them down. If that doesn’t slow the behavior, start splitting your symbols with quickly timed transitions. If you haven’t quite extinguished it yet, add Phase 2 components like cadence building drills and resistance load goals (three every minute). Movement limits a person’s ability to protest an action. Instead, it engages their thoughts on the stability and control needed to perform the functions required. In other words, they’ll be working too hard on the tasks at hand to be able to focus on a conversation of any kind.
Reducing the performance of contraindicated movements is also a challenge. As I always say, keep your verbal prompts toward the actions you want to see each rider doing. As an instructor, you should continue to be an active, visually accessible person in the room to help influence proper riding techniques. Again, if you don’t see behaviors changing, go into your position changes and steadily increasing intensity demands until the improper movements are extinguished.