Mood Matters: Give your rides the perfect personality

As bikes are adjusted and music plays, the mood in the room begins to emerge. Beginners may be nervous, while cyclists in the group may be focused on an upcoming time trial. But as anyone who’s ever taken a class knows, it’s usually the instructor that brings personality to the ride—and makes it so much more gratifying than 40 minutes on the recumbent.

So how do you infuse a ride with personality and make it work for the not-so-homogenous makeup of most Spinning classes? And most importantly, how do you make sure that what you're putting out there keeps students coming back for new challenges and experiences? Looking at the fundamental attributes of the classes you teach and the students who take them is a great place to start.

Time of day 
While beginners might show up for any class, early morning classes tend to attract disciplined and determined riders. These students got out of bed for a reason and are probably expecting a challenging ride. In my experience these riders will keep up with anything you throw out at them, so they want a coach, not a cheerleader. Go beyond “You can do it” because they know they can. Instead tap into their desire to challenge themselves with such cues as “Are you getting what you came for?”

Evening riders may have had a long day at work. They may be tired or stressed and eager to blow off some steam. Validate them by congratulating their efforts and remind them that the ride is "their time." Encourage them to channel any stress into energy for the climbs and sprints in the ride and during cool-down, invite them to let go of any stress they came in the door with. 
  
Energy Zone
If your facility offers specific Race Day, Interval or Endurance classes, you can expect some self-selected filtering based on fitness levels. While well-conditioned athletes may flock to Race Day and Interval rides, newcomers are more likely to opt for Endurance classes. This along with the inherent characteristics of each type of ride will sculpt the ride’s attributes.

If you infuse climbs, intervals and endurance efforts into single classes, you’re likely to see a mix of abilities. In this case you’ll want to master the delicate balance between encouraging riders to maximize their potential while reminding them to go at their own pace. Getting off the bike to offer personal feedback on proper form or technique or to check in with first timers is a great way to accomplish this.

Get feedback
Sometimes a ride’s personality is already there. You just have to listen to the cues from your riders. Are they complimenting (verbally or nonverbally) you on the workout, the music or on the amount of sweat dropped onto the floor? Do they pedal a little faster or crack a smile when a certain song comes on?  If you’re not picking up cues, ask! Solicit music suggestions or ask students about their training goals so that you’re able to design your classes with their tastes and needs in mind.

External factors can also play a defining role. Is it Friday evening? The week before Christmas? A rainy day? These things definitely make a difference and impact students’ states of mind.

Not getting anything? Just keep leading with enthusiasm. Share part of yourself with your students.  Keep it relevant but remember that if you open up, your students are more likely to follow suit.

Get real
Provide a vivid description of the ride. You may be teaching in L.A. but mix it up by guiding students through a ride though the Rockies. Or if you’re training for a century ride, position classes as training rides and invite students to share in your journey.

Most of all, be yourself and feel good about who you are and what you’re giving your students. Passion is the common thread that runs through all the truly exceptional instructors I know. Pepper your classes with comments about why you love to climb or how strong you feel after doing intervals and you’ll probably make the challenging parts of a ride more rewarding for your students.

Each class is a unique composition of copious variables that can never be duplicated. Your students and their mindsets, the music and your state of mind are all come together in different ways that change with every ride. Your students will respond to your enthusiasm by sending a dose of it back your way. By blending your passion, experience, skills and insight, you’ll develop a winning program and a loyal following. Ride on!

Becki Tooley, a self-proclaimed "Spinning fanatic," attributes her success in teaching to great students and a supportive gym environment. Her personal success from taking Spinning classes, which shrunk her from a size 14 to an eight, drove her to become an instructor. Her favorite features of the Spinning program are how easily it can be customized and how it blends individual and team work. She can be reached at batooley@msn.com.


 








































































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