Top Tip for instructors: Never Stop Learning

It’s late. It has been a long weekend. The weather was stunning. Not that I could make any good use of it as I was stuck inside a meeting room most of those two days with the exception of getting into the spin studio a few times. Yes, this weekend I attended a @Spinning training called SpinPower so I really wish it could be Sunday again tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

But let’s get to the point: was the training any good? Why did I do it? Wouldn’t I benefit more from resting or maybe cycling outside topping up my fading Croatian suntan? I have done enough training with well recognised bodies to teach in most places. There are people who have been teaching indoor cycling for much longer than I have and they only have their original training to their name. Surely it would be enough?

The answer is quite simple: as a fitness instructor, indoor cycling instructor or PT you should always try and stay on top of your game. Sports science has made incredible progress in the last 10 years. High end technology and testing that used to be reserved for top end athletes are now available to anyone who wants to try it as long as they can afford it. The bikes that you end up teaching on introduce new concepts and new technology which gets upgraded on a regular basis.

As an instructor I find myself embarrassed if I turn up to cover a class and cannot set up the console on the bike or people expect me to use the software provided and hear me say: “Sorry, I have never used that before. I don’t know how it works”. Yes, you may not always have the opportunity to get proper training on all bike types and visual display systems but I would advise you before accepting a cover to always ask what type of bike and technology the studio uses and what software system you would be expected to operate. This way even if you have never used it before and you have not been trained, you avoid the “WTF” expression when you face the group who are probably already not happy as they wanted their usual instructor.

The course I attended this weekend was very informative and opened my eyes to what else I can do in 3 of my regular weekly classes which are taught on this specific bike Spinner Blade Ion with power consoles. Does that mean that what I have been teaching in these classes for the past year was wrong? No. It’s just that there is so much more in terms of actual training rather than just making people exercise and monitoring their results that can be done.

Since my initial qualification almost 3 years ago I have done 4 additional courses plus various workshops both live and online to help me practice my skills and gain new ones.

I constantly find there is so much to learn about indoor cycling. Now I just have to work on learning how to convey more of that knowledge into meaningful and simple to understand messages that would help my participants to learn something new about their body, energy systems used and simply how to get better, stronger and fitter and be able to measure it.

It is a challenge to pass important and relevant information without breaking into a 10 minute lecture. As Sandro the instructor today said: “You have to know your shit”. And you have to know it well so you can explain it in a few ways so that various people will get it: some like numbers and formulae, some just need and explanation. But to do it while teaching an indoor cycling class is a skill that comes with loads of practice.

It is always so frustrating when a great piece of technology is made available to the instructors but due to lack of training it is all abandoned and forgotten and a state of the art bike console with all various useful numbers that can help you monitor your fitness levels, is used purely for RPM tracking.

I am aware of how much there is still for me to learn and I wish I could devote all my time to learning and teaching without spending 8 hours Monday to Friday in an office. Oh well, that just means I need to be patient.

Have I learnt anything new? I sure have: training (as in proper training with power when you work hard and you actually know what number HARD represents so it is no longer a guesstimate) is bloody exhausting. But it is also rewarding. And knowing what number you have to aim for to become better is a great motivator. I also happened to benefit from the years and years’ of Sandro’s experience as a coach and a former athlete and got a great tip about my own riding technique. And just this golden nugget was worth spending today indoors. And being on the receiving end of an indoor cycling class helps you to understand what it feels like to people who come to take their first class, it helps you remember that what feels natural to you is very overwhelming to beginners.

What is more, talking to someone and learning from someone who clearly is so much more knowledgeable than you is a good reminder how far you still have to go.

You never stop learning, that’s for sure.