In a world where you can walk into a McDonalds in Encinitas, California, Stanwood, Washington and even Cairo, Egypt and have the same dining experience, I believe there is something to be said for distinguishing yourself. I post this in contrast to much of what is posted on these blogs about the enormous problem of people not adhering to the Spinning® program. There is a population that probably exceeds our "authentic Spinning®" program in numbers which manipulates the foundation of Spinning® to distinguish themselves. They include other instruments of fitness (bands and weights) - they disregard the safety parameters which are addressed in technique, speed of cadence and heart rate floors/ceilings - and they forget to realize that the experience of the rider is KEY to their adherence in the long term. So, no...I am not suggesting that you can simply create stuff on your own, but I am suggesting that you can make a name for yourself by stamping your personal signature on your class. How do you leave a lasting impression on people? How is it that people will gravitate to your class for reasons other than a convenient time table? I myself have been to a YMCA in southern California and have been able to put my finger on what distinguishes one teacher from another based exclusively on "the taste in my mouth" that I left with after a class. That is what I'm talking about - Maybe it boils down to the essence of your teaching style, but this is something that can be mindfully nurtured if you're open to developing yourself as a relevant and memorable, distinguished instructor.
Let's run through a few things - compare what you like and what you've experienced that you don't really care for and run it past the "program adherence test." (okay - I just made that up...there is no test - or rather it is an "open book test" - your manual!)
Music. The Spinning® program doesn't dictate what kinds of music can and should be used and if you're lucky enough to live in the US, you are allowed to use music you own. That is not true in the UK and other countries. You have ot have a licence (or the club does) to play most music. That sucks and is expensive, so on this - if you're in the US...count yourself lucky. Though they don't limit what kind of music you use, there is pervasive culture of "world" and lyricless music. I am a fan. You might not be. I was thumbing through the cd's that another instructor leaves at the gym and all of that music is 80's bop...Walk Like an Egyptian, Girls just wanna have fun, All that she wants...is another baby.... you get my point? She is not wrong. It would drive me nuts to be in this kind of class, but that works for her and distinguishes her from me and she has a good following. Me? I'm pretty eclectic and not opposed to a good Tubthumpin, but it is peppered in. My playlists are often thematic - trending toward an Indian flare or a South American flare or an African flare, but not so much that you choke on a continent - In amongst the thematic songs I'll pepper in some epic rock song or jazz great if it feels right. My songs tend to be 5 to 8 minutes long. I am very conscious about my playlists and work with them every bit as much as every other angle of my class.
Class interaction: This is a biggie. This is you - stepping out of your comfort zone maybe a little. This is you knowing that you're paid only for the time in front of the class, but showing 20 minutes early anyway, to get yourself situated so you can interact/mingle/help. Eye contact, appropriate light-heartedness to break the ice, even physical contact. Oh! you Americans will be all over me on this, but do I ever touch people? You bet I do. I put a hand on a lower back to bring awareness to light gear bouncing, I touch hands to relax a grip. I steady people as they figure out using toe cages for the first time. (Know your gym policies and act within the expectations of your community...but I myself, am not afraid to touch other humans...) Class interaction includes the containment of speaking of the here and now - not dissing other instructors but by saying "for this class we will....whatever" "Just for today, we'll....whatever." Class interaction is totally forgetting that you might possibly reap some benefit from the class for your own fitness - you are (not to the point of distraction) okay with getting off your bike to interact with the crowd or with the one.
Coaching carryover: This is a biggie for me. I ponder ways to be relevant to people - If someone says they've never liked "spinning" but they're giving it "one more shot..." Oh My Gawd, do I take that seriously. If I know the energy of the class is wrecked at 6:00pm and that they showed to wash off the day, wring out their stress before going home to the sanctuary of their home...I take that seriously too. Any opportunity I can take to give my clients a reason to return and visceral change in the trajectory of their day or of their life - I'm doing it. I had a guy ask me the other day for a pencil and paper as he was spinning - the timing was fine - he quietly signed it like he was asking for a bill in a restaurant. . . He scribbled something down and after the class I asked him what he wrote down ( of course thinking it was something profound I had said....) but something that had been holding him up at work came to him right then and there in the space of a longish, quietish endurance section of a mixed terrain class. He said that if he didn't write it down he would forget and didn't want to cling on to it any more in class. A first for me, but hey! talk about carry over.
In a different direction - distinguishing yourself to your management is also key. Never late, consistently great, responsible with clients and equipment.
So, you see what I'm getting at - you are not just a robot delivering some McSpinning class that will be the same. Certain ingredients are key. I mean, put a hot dog in a hamburger bun and you don't really know what you're eating, right? You have to do right by the Spinning® program, but you can certainly be conscious of the things that distinguish you personally. Can you identify that now? STart with why people tell you they come back to you. Your music? Your organization? Your class prep and lay out? Your engagment and inclusiveness? Your consistency to deliver a great class? You're already there....capitalize on those features that make you outstanding - and beef up in those areas that say - "I am the best Spinning® instructor I can be..."
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