Why do fitness facility members flock to ride in a group setting? Because a cycling class is much more than a workout: it's an experience. A great cycling class is a confluence of motivation and technique from the instructor and inspiration from the music. Here are 5 tips from top teachers for giving your students the ride of their lives.
1. Begin With the Bike-Fit Moment
Start bonding with members the minute they walk in the door. Use the bike-fit moment to get to know newbies and calm their fears, suggests Jay Blahnik, Schwinn® master trainer based in Laguna Beach, California. Even if your class is full of regulars, offer to recheck bike alignment. “Use this time to connect and make old-timers feel welcome and appreciated,” says Blahnik.
2. Let Them Know What to Expect
Whether it’s at the start of class, or at the beginning of each song, students will be better able to pace and mentally prepare themselves if they know what to expect. “I go crazy when the instructor just yells, ‘Sprint!’ without giving any idea of how long the sprint will last, how much recovery I’ll get and how many times I’ll have to do it,” says Amy Dixon, Schwinn master trainer and group fitness manager of Equinox in Santa Monica, California. “Always let them know how fast to pedal, the type of terrain, the level of intensity you want them to aim for, and for how long.”
3. Keep It Simple
“Pick one objective for class,” says Shannon Derby, Spinning® master trainer/master Spinning instructor and owner of Mountains’ Edge Fitness in Boulder, Colorado. “Focus on theme music, hill repeats, pedal stroke drills or heart rate—just don’t try to make it all happen in one class.” Says Los Angeles–based Schwinn master trainer Keli Roberts: “Be confident that if you’re playing good music, you can stay silent some of the time and allow the highs and the lows of the music to teach for you.”
4. Visualize Sparingly
Too much touchy-feely talk can get corny. “You don’t have to talk the entire class,” says Rosemary Hohl-Chriswisser, MS, Schwinn master trainer and professional triathlon coach based at Life Time Fitness in Austin, Texas. “Stick to one visualization per class if you do them at all, and use instrumental music (like Robert Miles’s ‘Children’), so that your story doesn’t compete with lyrics,” recommends Hardy Pollard, cycling instructor at The Houstonian in Houston.
5. Provide Effective Coaching
It's one thing to be positive and motivating. It's another for the instructor to yell ‘Woo-hoo’ for 45 minutes. “Make sure that coaching doesn’t turn into senseless cuing,” says Dixon. “Comments should add depth and clarity.” Focus instead on creating an incredible playlist. You won’t have to whoop, because your members will do it for you.
For 5 more tips, plus expert advice on technique, please see “A Smoother Ride” in the online IDEA Library or in the November–December 2011 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.