Welcoming The New Guys

As Spinning® instructors, we face a number of challenges every time we teach. Some of these challenges are physical while others are mental or emotional, and many can be overcome with experience, continuing education or dialogue with other Spinning instructors. Yet the challenge of giving new students an experience that will encourage them to come back is one that seems to endure.

Making newcomers feel welcome, helping them stay safe and motivating them to stick with a program that you know will lead them to a healthier, happier existence is infinitely rewarding. However, being in top physical condition and having an extensive repertoire of technical and scientific know-how is usually not enough to make this happen. Let the following tips help you give the new guys the TLC they need to feel welcome—and come back for more.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early to set up your own bike and music. Have this work done before your students arrive so you can focus on them, help them set up and foster a positive mood for the ride ahead.
Greet people as they enter and look for new faces. Act as if you're hosting a party and the students are your guests.
Ask if anyone needs help setting up their bike or has questions, but don't rely on students to raise their hands. Walk around, take a good look and help those who need it.
Share an overview of the class you’ll be teachingand outlinewhat the focus of the ride should be.
Make an effort to learn students’ names. This is the most powerful way to build a sense of community and create a caring, inclusive atmosphere. Research shows that teachers who don’t take the time to learn students’ names are often perceived as remote and unapproachable. In large classes, the task of learning names can be daunting but even if you only learn a few names at a time, you’ll be making great progress toward fostering a supportive, community environment.
Keep a stash of
student handouts in your bag. Tips for everything from proper bike setup to details on form and technique are covered at spinning.com.
Refresh and expand your own knowledge of Spinning program fundamentals by reviewing the
articles and research posted on the Spinning website.
Experiencing first-hand what it’s like to be the new kid has made me a better instructor. It will help you too, so try taking the occasional Spinning class at clubs where no one knows that you’re an instructor.

All of your students can benefit from these reminders, but take care to keep new students safe by reviewing these Spinning program fundamentals:

Remind students to stay hydrated before, during and after class.
Review the three hand positions and five core movements, reminding your class that these are critical to ensuring a safe, comfortable and effective ride.
Encourage students to be fully present in mind and body and to go at their own pace.
Make sure new students know how to stop the flywheel and adjust the resistance.
Cover the importance of monitoring heart rate and exercise intensity. You may want to print and share the
Energy Zone™ Heart Rate Chart and student handouts for each Energy Zone posted at spinning.com.
For students without monitors, explain rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
Remind students that riding without resistance offers no training advantage and increases the risk of injury.

Makethese minor tweaks to your class and you’ll find that both newbies and vets reap benefits:

Start the music and while you assist new students, have experienced riders warm up. Cue them to focus on perfecting each pedal stroke—reminding them to keep the foot straight, work on both pushing and pulling and avoid “ankling” or excessive flexion of the ankle while pedaling.
Even seasoned regulars can benefit from reminders, so cue a light touch on the handlebars, relaxed shoulders and adequate resistance.
Cadence checks benefit everyone, so conduct them regularly. Ask riders to count their revolutions on the down-stroke for 15 seconds. Coach students to ride at 60-80 RPM on hills and 80-110 RPM on flats, which translates into 15-20 and 20-27 pedal strokes for hills and flats respectively in 15 seconds. After the check, ask students to adjust their cadence or resistance as needed until they fall within those ranges.
Get off your bike and check on students at least once during class. Validate what they’re doing right and make form and technique suggestions for how they can ride more safely, comfortably and effectively. Doing this off the bike is less likely to make participants feel self-conscious.
At the end of class, thank your riders and ask for a special round of applause for the newcomers. Assure new students that it takes a while to get adjusted to the bike and to feel comfortable in the saddle, and make sure they know that you’re happy to answer any questions.

Your facility has a vested interest in member retention and satisfaction, so enlist the help of your colleagues.

Encourage new riders to arrive ten minutes early for their first class via the club website and front desk staff.
Remind sales and personal training that the Spinning program is a great way for new members to get the personal attention and structure they need to initiate a successful cardiovascular training program.
If sufficient demand exists, add a 30-minute “Beginning Spinning” class to the schedule and ask sales to promote it to new members.

In every class, you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. You might inspire a middle-aged person to get on the road to fitness and slow down the aging process. Perhaps you’ll help a new mother find some time for herself. You can give couples an opportunity to reconnect through exercise or help a 70-year old ex-high school football star rediscover the champion within.However, you won’t be able to do any of these things unless you spend some time getting acquainted with your new students. Make sure you let them know you’re glad they came—and do your best to remember their name when you see them again.

Alison Graves is a Spinning Instructor living in Austin, TX. Certified since 1998, Alison moved to Austin one year ago and hopes to resume teaching in the near future at a local club. She can be contacted at alison.graves@hp.com.

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