Beating Boredom in the Classroom
By Rachel Healy

Let’s face it: Even the most energetic, creative Spinning instructors encounter occasional bouts of boredom in the classroom. The upside of routine is that it allows us to build experience and ultimately gain confidence in our teaching abilities. The downside is that the very thing that motivated us to become instructors—love of Spinning—can be threatened by monotony or, even worse, burnout. Whether you’ve been teaching for a few months or a few years, consider the following tips to juice up your routine.

Be a recruiter. Recruiting new students can be a fantastic way to add fresh energy to the classroom. Encourage friends, family and co-workers to take your Spinning class. Talk about Spinning to gym members who usually stick to the cardio machines. Having new students in your class—especially people you know—can breathe new life into your teaching.

Give your playlist a makeover. As Spinning instructors, we know that music is a big motivator for students—but what about for us? Updating your tunes regularly can keep you excited about the atmosphere you are creating in class. Expanding your music library should be no hard task. Ask your students what they like to hear when they work out. Get music recommendations from friends and other Spinning instructors. Best of all, you can find plenty of great playlists every day at spinning.com!

Connect with your students. Sometimes this is about getting to know the new faces, and sometimes it’s about reconnecting with the students you already know. What are their fitness goals? Are they training for a sport or an event? Not only will this allow you to design rides that will engage them, but it will remind you that you play a significant role in their physical well-being.

Get evaluated. Perhaps the biggest pitfall of getting too comfortable as an instructor is not boredom, but forgetting that there is always room for improvement. Seeking honest evaluation is one way to identify areas for development. Have the fitness director or a senior instructor take one of your classes, and ask about the strengths and weaknesses of the class. If your gym does not administer student evaluations, ask if you can create and pass out your own. From my own experience, this is more effective than soliciting verbal feedback because it gives the students specific input guidelines rather than asking the very general, “What did you think of the class?” If you have the resources and permission, consider videotaping yourself during a class. Speakers, teachers and performers sometimes employ this method of self-evaluation because the record is an objective, accurate assessment of their performance as an instructor.    

Practice Spinning feng shui. Making a few small changes to the room arrangement can shake up your routine. Instead of having your bike at the head of the class, take a spot next to your students so that you are riding with them, or change the position of the bikes. Experiment with different room setups and notice the different energy each creates.

Have commitment issues? For some instructors, the idea of being locked into a schedule is enough to make them break into a sweat. In this case, try teaching at a university or college. Group exercise schedules are usually updated each semester, and there are fewer classes scheduled in the summer. The variety could reenergize your teaching and give you some recovery time between semesters.

Discover what motivates you. Some instructors have a passion for teaching seniors, while others gravitate toward hardcore cyclists. The key is to unlock the thing that inspires you. Others may prefer a more intimate classroom environment. Another source of motivation is the variety of the Energy Zones™. Alternating Recovery, Endurance, Strength, Interval and Race Day classes is a great way to avoid boredom.

Stay positive. Students are drawn to positive energy (that means you!), and will pass on their positive vibes to other students—and back to you. Perhaps that is the most important reason to stay engaged in your teaching: if you’re not feeling excited about what you’re doing, why should your students? It’s easy to lose sight of this at the end of a long day, when we’re grumpy and tired and would much rather kick back on the couch than teach a Spinning class, but remembering why we fell in love with Spinning in the first place can help put it in perspective.


Rachel Healy received her Spinning instructor certification in 2005. She holds her group exercise certification through AFAA and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. She teaches in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

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