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Offer an Introduction to Spinning® Workshop to Build and Sustain Your Spinning Program

A Spinning studio can be intimidating for newbies. The high energy, loud music, sweaty bodies, and steamed mirrors can make any first-timer a little, well, scared. As much as we value our current participants, we also know that the key to the success of any program is growth. Class attendance is organic and it is up to those of us who administrate and teach Spinning classes to extend a hand and help newcomers cross the threshold to what might become a life-altering fitness experience for them, or at least dispel their misconceptions.

Perhaps it would be the perfect solution if made mandatory, but at our facility we have eliminated some of the “newbie syndrome” by offering a monthly Introduction to Spinning Workshop for anyone that is interested in learning more about the Spinning program and indoor cycling. Although it is a free workshop, we encourage members to sign up in advance and then honor their commitment.

This introductory workshop is a great opportunity to open a new door for members in their often overwhelming fitness quest. For 90 minutes, the participants interact with the instructor and build a relationship. They try something new and walk away with the tools and to begin a new adventure.

The following is a suggested format for an Introduction to Spinning Workshop:

Begin comfortably seated on stability balls or mats on the floor. After introductions, ask each student why he or she is here and share your own personal story about when you attended your first Spinning class. Keep their answers in mind, as you will want to address some of their preconceptions or concerns within the context of the session.

I prepare a carefully constructed outline of the topics to address and I give a ten-page handout to each student to take home. However, flexibility in this workshop presentation is essential. The handout includes notes about the Spinning program at our facility, the Spinning website, bike set-up, the hand positions and Spinning core movements, monitoring your heart rate and individual handouts on each Spinning Energy Zone™. I also include a “cheat sheet” in the back so they can record their bike settings and take notes.

At the beginning, tell them emphatically that the amount of information that will be presented in the workshop may appear staggering, but they will learn that there is so much more to a Spinning class than simply riding. It is both a mental and physical experience and, as a bonus, a huge calorie-blaster! Even better, they will never get bored in class because there is always something new to learn or experience. (Boredom is a preconception that can be convincingly addressed.)

Give an overview of what to expect and how to prepare. Talk about what to wear in class and the benefits of cycling shoes and how they can maximize their experience by utilizing a heart rate monitor. I explain that each class at the facility will be different and will be led by a certified Spinning instructor. There is a sense of camaraderie within the class, a sense of group participation and shared energy, but no chatter. Encourage each student to listen to the guidance of the instructor and follow the class profile, but to adapt the training session to his or her needs. The beauty of Spinning training is that it is so uniquely individual and personal. Cadence and resistance together equal intensity. By managing cadence and creating their own terrain with the resistance knob, they are in control of their class and their ride.

When it’s time to get on the bike, give each student a careful and thorough bike fit and remind them that they may need to adjust their settings after they have attended classes for awhile. Explain the three settings (seat height, fore/aft position and handle bar height) so they are able to find them in the future. 
Suggest that students try riding several times a week to get used to the Spinner® bike and the movements. Caution them that common complaints from newbies involve discomfort in hands, shoulders, wrists and, of course, butt. Inform them that this is not unusual and they should not jump to the conclusion that Spinning class is not for them. Proper technique, form, bike fit and padded shorts can solve most discomfort issues.

As at the beginning of class, teach and present safety cautions. Show them the resistance knob and how it doubles as a brake. Explain the concept of a fixed flywheel and introduce the three hand positions and five core movements. Remind them to hydrate regularly. I like to use the 40/40 parameters: 40 ounces of water for 40 minutes of riding. 

Within the context of a 20–30 minute ride, cycle through what is appropriate for the level of your workshop participants. Explain warm-up and cool-down and end with basic stretches. Above all, let them know that you are simply introducing this information to them. As they attend class after class, all the information presented will make a lot more sense. The two most important things for the students to walk away with are how to set up their Spinner bike and motivation to take a Spinning class. There is no homework or oppressive memorization. They have just been on a shopping spree and have bought into the concept of a new and wonderful way to exercise. They have been introduced to some of the tools they will use along the way, and will add them to their shopping bag when they are ready. They know that in the future they will address skills and stamina, but for now they are happy to have a better idea of what to expect. 

Let them know that they have now become part of the Spinning community at your facility.  Some think they have joined the elite. Others think they have entered the mysterious world of Spinning training. Some will go on to take their classes to new levels and to new connections. Still others will ride outdoors and train for events. Some will be happy to efficiently fit a Spinning class into a busy day. But none will ever again be intimidated by the Spinning program at your gym.

Copyright 2012 Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. All rights reserved. SPIN®, Spinner®, Spinning®, the Spinning logo®, Peak Pilates®, Resist-A-Ball®, and Bodyblade® are registered trademarks that are owned or used under exclusive license by Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.