Mood Matters: Give your rides the perfect personality
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 [email protected].