10 Instructor Tips To Convert Indoor Cycling Newbies Into Regulars (Part 2)

And here come the other 5 tips 🙂 as a follow up to the previous post that you can read here.

  1. 1:1 ATTENTION

It can be challenging if you have more that 3-4 beginners especially if they are dotted around the studio. I encourage new people to sit in front by saying:

“No point in going to the back to hide – I walk around so I will see you anyway 🙂 If you sit in front you can see me clearly and I can give you corrections. Plus it’s scientifically proven that you burn 25% more calories in the front 3 rows because you are trying to look good! But it’s your choice 🙂

If this is your first class your mission is to ENJOY THE MUSIC and make sure you feel like you are DOING SOMETHING. If your breathing is changing and you are sweating – you’re doing the right thing. The rule is: FEELS LIKE NOTHING – YOU ARE DOING NOTHING”

The balancing act of giving attention to those who need it most – read: beginners – without the others feeling like you have abandoned them is a tough one. And I will be honest with you, I can’t imagine doing that from my bike. I have to get off and walk around.

I almost always have a long endurance track in my profiles 6-9min. I tell people what they need to do. Clear and simple:

“80-100RPM, steady tempo, RPE7. Resistance high enough so you have to fight a bit for your chosen RPM. If you are doing it right in the next 3min you will hear your breathing and a puddle of sweat will start forming under your bike. If none of these is happening – adjust your resistance or speed.”

These are perfect to switch the mike off and walk around. When I see beginners struggle (especially with no consoles) I describe with more detail how they should feel. then ask them: “Ok personal challenge for you: when the clock gets to 0:30 you push harder for 30sec then back off. Then again”.

I prefer this to saying: do whatever you feel like you can do, listen to your body etc. Let’s be honest, if you have never done this and it feels hard your body will tell you one thing – THAT’S TOO HARD. TAKE IT EASY. LET’S STOP FOR CRYING OUTLOUD!

I still want them to feel like they are taking the class and not doing their own.

Make sure however that every minute or two you say something to the whole group so they know you are still with them.

  1. PERMISSION TO STAY SEATED
Cyclist with stuck seat.

Cyclist with stuck seat.

The only thing I always allow first timers is to stay seated the whole class. Yes, it makes it more uncomfortable on the bum but some people really need to build some base pedalling technique and get an understanding of resistance to stand up.

“When we stand up, feel free to try. Remember you always need to add resistance before you do stand up. When you get up if you feel out of control or it feels awkward, try adding resistance. If it still feels wrong or you’re not sure what I want from you – just stay in the saddle”

  1. CUEING – VISUAL & VERBAL

When you are not used to loud music with instructor talking over it, and you have this resistance knob to think of then keeping up with the beat, breathing and staying alive all at the same time makes understanding the instructor one thing too many. And if people around start doing different things it can all get too much for a beginner.

As an instructor use your face, exaggerated movements, point to elbows, knees, get off and mimic pedal stroke from the side. Do anything to get your message across.

Choose your music wisely to help yourself – get some instrumental tracks giving you space to explain stuff.

Get them ready: my warm ups always have a flat fast track first to cue the form. Then there is a slow hill to cue the standing form. Don’t get into a standing run straight away.

  1. CONSOLES/POWER METER

Do you remember your first spin class as a participant? I lasted about 2min. There was no set up. We went into a crazy speed (or I did at least, I had no clue and no direction) straight away. I left and it took me almost 2 years to try again. That was on an old school bike and I used to cycle outdoors as a kid.

Nowadays we have great bikes with monitors. Yesss! Or is it? Some of them have bright colours and all of them have sh******* of numbers on them! Imagine how the first timer feels walking into a studio with 45 bikes, loads of people wearing lycra, some funny noisy shoes, punching loads of data into the bikes, and they all seem to know what they are doing…

When I get complete beginners and I have consoles like on MatrixIC7, I do not set them on coach by colour. I leave the basic screen on with only the basic data. And I explain that they can go by the beat or by RPM (I ride to the beat most of the time, with options for those in-the-know 🙂 ).

“Top left hand corner is your speed. I will give you a direction like 80-90 or 64-66RPM and you can either check your numbers or if it is too much, you just listen to the music. It’s the same thing. Top right is your resistance. You start around 20%. Every time you add or take off you just feel a slight difference in your legs and match the beat.”

On other basic consoles I only use RPM.

  1. FEEDBACK

I always give group feedback in the cool down as we ride out for 1-2min.

“Congratulations to the first timers! It wasn’t easy. Reality check: it never gets any easier, you just push harder (wink wink)”.

Then I give 1:1 when necessary or when I get a chance. Good, bad and the ugly. It makes people realise you care and you actually watch them work. Even if they were in the back row.

These are my tips. Anything that you could add? Any tried and tested methods?

 

 

10 Instructor Tips To Convert Indoor Cycling Newbies Into Regulars (Part 1)

This post has been inspired by one on ICA page which you can read here if you are a member (and if you are an indoor cycling instructor but not a member I would recommend you become one).

It’s about the challenge we group exercise instructors face when new people come to our classes. And this topic is extremely relevant as January approaches and the New-Year-Resolution-Stampede is about to take place.

Queues outside the studios, face offs, cat fights for the bikes, the regulars getting peeved that THEIR bikes are taken, etc. It is always fun. You know it will last 3-5 weeks and things will be back to normal though.

"I'm really serious about exercising. Last year I only went to the gym twice, once to join and once to renew."

“I’m really serious about exercising. Last year I only went to the gym twice, once to join and once to renew.”

 

But wouldn’t it be nice to actually convert some of these newbies into regulars? As an instructor you only have those first 2-3 classes (sometimes only that first one) to leave an impression positive enough to make people stick with the classes throughout those first tough few weeks.

Here are my 10 tips that will help you do just that. And they apply to both January Madness and any other time of year. Oh, and yes, you ALWAYS get a new person (or a couple) in each class throughout the year but in January 30% of your group may be people who have never been on an indoor bike.

This post includes 5 and further five are coming next.

  1. BIKE SET UP

If you don’t pay attention to the set up and don’t instil its importance in the participants from day one, you risk them getting into bad habits at best and not coming back EVER at worst.

Do you remember how much your backside hurt the fist time? Or second? Or really until you started doing 3 classes a week or more? It can put you off completely. Therefore make sure you take time setting the bike up so they suffer for all the right reasons only 🙂

TO DO THAT YOU MUST ARRIVE TO YOUR CLASS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE…

I also finish classes saying:

“Your butts are going to hurt. Maybe not today but tomorrow. You can’t help that. Don’t sit on hard surfaces. If you have another 5-10min stretch properly outside the studio so you can at least save your legs”.

“Give yourself 2-3 classes with different instructors, different times of day before you decide if you hate spin or not”.

2. BEGINNERS HANDOUTS

I have a great hand out that gives advice about shoes, clothes, bike set up etc plus included my contact details in case they have questions. I give these out at the end of the class.

I encourage new faces to come early or stay a bit after the class to check the bike and put down the numbers on the hand out. They can then transfer them onto their phones so next time they come they can set themselves up. It gives them more confidence in the second class.

3. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE BIKES – MAINLY RESISTANCE

I encourage people to use the studio (if the gym permits it, or bikes on the main floor) when there are no classes. Now they know their set up, they can ride with their own music and play with that resistance trying to keep the beat.

As a rule every time I have a complete beginner I ask them to turn the resistance all the way down and see how that feels. Then to keep turning it right until their legs can’t move. Now they know both ends and have a better idea how hard it can get I say:

“We will never be working at any of these points in the class. Ever.”

4. CLASS PROFILE

Be prepared with your profiles in January. Have enough variety to choose from. You don’t want the first timers to think the classes are boring just because they don’t yet understand the intensity and resistance, nor do you want them to leave with an impression they are not fit enough to come regularly.

At the same time you want to keep your classes challenging with your regulars in mind. Can it be done? Ideally there would be some introductory classes on the timetable but hey, we don’t live in a perfect world.

  • beware of long endurance classes where 70% or more of your class is in the saddle – they can come across as boring to new people so make sure you choose some interesting tracks with clear beat
  • power intervals – I would wait with these for a couple of weeks
  • testing – yeah, wait…
  • mixed workouts will work best: in and out of the saddle, speed & resistance variation
  • long endurance tracks (around 7min) are great though giving enough time to settle into a pace and resistance

5. MUSIC

No, you will not please everyone but my advice would be to choose music with clear beat even if you have bikes with consoles showing RPM. Keeping an eye on the console and on you at the same time may be too much to ask. If you always teach with the beat they can keep an eye on you.

Choose your music wisely – get some instrumental track giving you space to explain stuff.

My warm up always have a flat fast track first to cue the form. Then there is a slow hill to cue the standing form. Don’t get into a standing run straight away.

The remaining 5 tips coming up next.