A perk of having a career in fitness is its portability. How refreshing it is to be able to teach no matter where we live! Fortunately, many instructors are able to work in the same gym for prolonged periods and do not have the stresses of starting over. Most of us at some point will still battle complacency in our class design and coaching once we fall into a rhythm of teaching. Do not become too comfortable because we are obligated to consistently offer a meaningful class or training session to our members.
As a Spinning® instructor who has moved many times and taught in gyms on both coasts, I experienced the frustration of starting over, building a class and fitting into a new environment where my style was not familiar. The following tips may be appropriate for your classes as well as for the instructor who is new to teaching or to a facility.
1. Research your options- and all the gyms within a radius you’d be willing to drive. Are any of them official Spinning® facilities? If not, make a trip to each gym for a visitor’s pass and take some classes. Which one feels like a good fit? Introduce yourself to the manager or owner when possible and let them know you are a certified Spinning® instructor interested in working at the club. Perhaps give a compliment on something you liked about the studio, instructor or gym. Have a resume ready to give to them.
2. Feel out the gym- Once you have a job, attend as many Spinning® or cycling classes as possible to get a feel for what the members are used to and gauge the gym culture. What is the demographic? Are riders able to set up their bikes correctly?
Become familiar with the room setup and how to use the stereo before you teach. Introduce yourself to the other instructors when taking their classes.
3. Trust Your Training- Prepare ahead of time and trust the training you received. The Spinning® program is a safe and effective program when used as it is designed. It’s imperative to be yourself and offer a class based on your personality and teaching style. Refer to the Spinning manual if necessary to refresh class design. Write the profile and then layer in the music, keeping it simple at first. Do not fall into the trap of throwing a bunch of music together at the last minute and winging the class. Use the Energy Zone heart rate and cadence parameters. You can’t go wrong! Remember the contraindicated moves! Many gyms won’t offer classes based on all of the Energy Zones so provide a variety when you start teaching
4. Show Confidence Even If You Don’t Feel It- Often as a new instructor, nerves are present in front of a class of eager students. Everyone in the room started as a beginner at some point, even the best, most seasoned instructor. Rely on the profile and cue to the members what they should feel at certain points during class. Smile and provide a tip or two that relates to the class goal. This provides the “why” to the students and reinforces your knowledge.
5. Build Rapport – Learn your students’ names first and foremost! It’s hard to do but will pay off. They will feel important and may become a class regular. You can walk around before class begins to personally say hello and engage with each member. If the class size is too large, make a point to say hello to those you don’t know and talk to some others after class. Be available by standing near the door, thanking everyone as they leave. Be careful not to turn your back to the class once the music stops to make notes or sign the roster. Lastly, build rapport by being genuine and showing your personality. It is easier to feel intimidated at first and even easier to sink into the shoes of the instructor whose style packs the room. Be yourself! You’ll gain your own following and they will appreciate you for YOU.
Change can be difficult, but try to appreciate the tough situations and challenges of teaching to strangers in a new place. Each experience makes us who we are today!