Spellbound

So you made it through your audition and your name is listed as "Instructor" on the schedule. Congratulations!

It's very common for the initial excitement, "I can't believe it... I'm an Indoor Cycling Instructor!!" to quickly fade away, replaced by fear and anxiety. The realization that in __ days you'll be mounting the bike and leading your class for the very first time, typically solicits "HELP! I'm teaching my first class on Thursday!!"

That "HELP" is based on FEAR > the perfectly natural fear of presenting or speaking to a group. Fear that you won't do a good job. Fear that you'll look foolish. Fear that you won't be liked, etc...

So to help you manage the fear that's going to come when you teach your first few class, I thought you'd appreciate three suggestions for mitigating that fear. Then you can get on to the task at hand > which is delivering a FUN and entertaining class for everyone who shows up.

Step #1 Prepare... But Not Too Much

If you were to ask me, "John - which do you feel would be better for my first class?

A. I walk in super prepared, with lots of detailed notes and cues on multiple 3x5 cards...

or

B. I have a simple/basic framework/profile for the class, leaving some room for spontaneity and my personality to shine through?[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']

I'd always suggest "B" and here's why.

Yes it's important to be prepared, but IMO having too much detail; your minute by minute profile reduced to writing, on a bunch of note cards, is a recipe for disaster > or possibly a very boring class presentation.

First you need to give your class what they want; a FUN and entertaining workout. It's only after you've accomplished this can you begin to add in what they need; structured, effective cardiovascular training.

When you climb up on that stage for the first time, there's a huge amount of stress and sensory/emotional overload. You're now faced with; using an unfamiliar sound system, getting your music going, all those faces watching you, you watching them, "am I showing good form?, "what is her frown communicating?", do they like me? Are the enjoying the class?

So there you are, with a handful of note cards, that you proceed to read to your class while you manage everything else required to teach the class. Have you ever watched a speaker who gets up and just reads his/her speech? Head down, drowning on and on, with no audience engagement and certainly no personality? Not what you want to do in your first class - is it?

If you commit your early classes to a complicated series of notes, there's a good chance you'll do the same thing = despite all of your preparation something will happen (a late arriver/Spotify will skip a song or to your horror it will be on shuffle) something will happen that will throw you off and your well planned class could quickly become your worst nightmare.

Trust me on this. It's better to have a very simple structure to follow. There's nothing wrong with doing one activity/movement/intensity for each song in your early classes. Without the need to follow a script, you'll probably lift your head up and smile at a few participants in your class. I know it may sound crazy, but that's all many of them really want from you!

Step#2 Salt the Room

Back in the gold rush days, unscrupulous mine owners would sprinkle gold dust (Salting the Mine) to fool people into thinking the mine was valuable, in the hopes of selling a worthless hole in the ground to an an unsuspecting investor.

This strategy also works very well during an audition.

You can do something similar to make the room or studio more valuable for YOU, but it doesn't involve gold - something much better. Invite a number of your friends or family members to your first few classes - effectively Salting the room with friendly faces. I'd have them all sitting right there in the front row.

Now you'll have a bunch of familiar participants you can feel comfortable engaging with / get energy from! I had my wife Amy front and center during my audition with LifeTime Fitness. When ever I was feeling anxious I would look at her. She'd smile back and then turn and look to one side > my cue to not focus on her and make eye contact with others in the class. It worked like a charm and look at me now 🙂

Cycling Team getting warm before a big event. Image credit http://velonews.competitor.com/

Cycling Team getting warm before a big event. Image credit http://velonews.competitor.com/

Step#3 Pre-Class Warmup

It's a learned art to be able to ride with intensity and still be able to communicate effectively as an Instructor. I chose the words ride with intensity specifically because participants want to see you working > nothing reduces your authority in the room more than being labeled as an Instructor who fakes it - I've never seen anyone who can effectively pull off pretending to add resistance, so don't bother trying.

So until you develop the skills (and specific fitness - I don't care how fit you are, this is different) needed to comfortably breath and talk in full sentences, while in Zone 3 - I suggest you take the time to warm up before your class. No cyclist would think of starting a time trial without a complete warm up. They have to be able to perform right from the start and you need to be able to perform as soon as you press play.

Let's say your class starts at 9:00. You want to make sure you're standing at the door to greet everyone starting at 8:45. Twenty minutes should be long enough for a nice gradual warm up that include 3-4 short hard efforts to get you up to threshold and a few minutes to cool down. Leave 5 minutes for the bathroom break you know you'll need = you need to be riding at 8:20.

This would be the perfect time to practice your first few tracks. Listen for obvious changes that will cue you to make a change. If possible, try speaking out loud to loosen up your voice. Or maybe pick out a quiet segment where you flash that big smile and thank everyone for attending your first class... doesn't Madonna have a song, something about the first time?[/wlm_private]

Originally posted 2015-02-23 12:49:23.

John
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