Here is part two of our conversation with Doug Rusho.
Listen to the Podcast below
Originally posted 2010-04-23 11:28:50.
Here is part two of our conversation with Doug Rusho.
Listen to the Podcast below
Originally posted 2010-04-23 11:28:50.
This week I have the extraordinary privilege to be working from my balcony in Punta Cana. I have never been to an all inclusive resort before, and it is quite the experience. The grounds are beautiful, you can go to any of the many restaurants or bars on the property, and there always seems to be a smiling face nearby ready to wait on your next need.
Last night we attended an outdoor band that was playing and there were six younger people that were hired by the resort to provide entertainment and get the crowd dancing etc… While all of them were great dancers, the lead young man was simply incredible. His feet were light and fast, and yet somehow thoughtful and deliberate. He was smiling from ear to ear, and seemed to be having as much fun doing his job as we were joining him on the dance floor. As talented at this young man was, one of his gifts seemed to be the ability to dance with a wide range of partners (guests that he would engage) and have them seem comfortable and loose. You could see the transformation in the people in only one minute: they went from thinking “oh, no, I can't dance with him, he is too good” to relaxing and enjoying themselves and then going back to their tables only to return to the dance floor with their spouse or partner.
It really got me thinking about customer service and how that impacts our industry and profession. Yes, being an indoor cycling instructor is, well at least should be, a profession. We have customers (riders) and it is really our job to guide them through this fitness experience that we have (hopefully) spent time and effort creating. In many ways, we should be presenting an image similar to this young man's for not just our riders, but all of those that are in the club or studio.
As with any great performer, his performance moved me, and has me thinking….Am I providing a high quality performance for my riders and most importantly, am I providing that experience to most of my riders or only just a few? As with most instructors, I have a core group of 10 or so people (about a third of the class) that seem to be in all of the classes I teach. They are all cyclists (they ride outdoors) and they work hard, they work very hard. They are inspirational to teach to and certainly in the midst of a very tough set they help to get me to the other side. But what about the other 20 or so people in that room? I am reaching them? Is my class actually fun and enjoyable, or has it become a 60 minute grueling experience?
I have often heard group exercise instructors talk about the class they just delivered and the gist of the conversation always seems to revolve around “killing” the people, or it being the “hardest” class they have had or something similar. Very rarely, if ever, do you I have pleasure of hearing about how they had the entire class pedaling to the beat and enjoying themselves. I am not sure that I myself have ever measured the success of one of my classes by the number of smiles I have seen on the participant's faces; but perhaps I should. Some, well really most, of my riders will never be on a triathlon course, so I should be mindful about training them like they headed there in three weeks.
So I challenge you, take a few moments and think about your next class. Are you providing great customer service? Are you including most of the riders, and not just your hardcore following? Are your riders having fun? As for myself, when I return I plan to taking the time to be sure that I am dancing with all of my customers, not just the cyclists!
Originally posted 2018-04-02 07:00:10.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I did a ton of traveling this past year. Visiting studios where I've been brought in to troubleshoot issues, attended multiple conferences (IDEA/IHRSA/WSSC) and I have lost count of how many dozens of classes I've taken as a participant in 2014.
When I take a class, as a consultant or participant, I pay attention to things many other's don't. Take for example Instructor cues directed at correcting form/position/techniques… they almost always come at the very beginning of class, during her/his initial introduction – never to be heard again.
Which is exactly the wrong time IMO > let me explain why.
Think about the last time you walked into a party, an important meeting or a new class at school. There's a good chance that you were consciously aware of your body language as you entered the room, right?
You want to project confidence, so you stand up straight and tall and walk with purposeful steps. Your chin is lifted and your gaze is focused across the room, not (hopefully) down at your feet.
Perfectly natural as most of us want to make a good first impression, when we meet with new or important people.
When we sit down in these situations, we tend to stay near the front edge of the chair. We smile and continue to display strong, erect posture while seated, that is as long as we stay focused on it.
Conversation requires us to concentrate on things other than what we look like. Over time we may tend to relax. When we do, we will start to soften our posture, drop our head & shoulders, slide back into the chair and slump slightly, rounding our once flat backs.
The same process occurs to the participants in your class.
The start of class is an exciting time for your participants. Riders maybe looking around at who's riding near them or watching the Instructor. Some will feel a touch of insecurity (how do I look on this bike?) that causes them to “preen” a bit when they realise others are doing the same and casting a critical eye on them as well.
In your next class watch for this, if you haven't noticed it already. You might see a few checking themselves out in the mirrors. Others are focused on the rider in front of them, as they try to appear disinterested – but many are and their body language gives them away. The first words you speak may cause a few to sit up a little straighter. Right now your class doesn't need any direction on form/position/technique.
Everything come crumbling down
I have to smile thinking back on family dinners when I was young. My dad was a stickler about not slouching at the table; “sit up Mac!” – my nickname – was a less than gentle reminder. It never came at the beginning when I was focused on looking like I was in the military, rather at some point later in the meal when I'd lost focus, interest, or was simply bored with the whole ordeal.
So when should you be cueing form/position/technique?
When you see that your class needs it. Pay attention to everyone during the recoveries. Are they reasserting themselves on the bike? Watch and you'll see this with many of your outdoor cyclists, as they gather themselves back after a hard effort. There's a lot of unspoken peer-pressure in a group ride and many cyclists have learned to fight through the fatigue and at least appear strong to those around them.
When you observe dropped heads, shoulders, elbows or rounded backs, this could be your cue to jump off and walk the room. I know for me personally, when the instructor is walking near me I will self-asses my form without them saying a word.
This is getting long so I'll save; When it is time to cue form/position/technique – what should I say? until next week.
Originally posted 2015-01-01 04:09:36.
Can simple words change your Indoor Cycling Class?
Jade Ng with the Finish Strong Training System has been using her dictionary to find words that help her communicate with her class.
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Information about our lost Podcast episodes is here ICI Podcast — The Lost Episodes
Originally posted 2010-09-17 06:54:03.
This week we are exploring How You Sound and in the spirit of learning about ourselves and our individual “sound”, I want you to do something….it will be easier for those of us that teach in a club setting, but hopefully those of us in a studio setting will be able to explore this as well. Please find the best STEP class (yes, they are still out there and wildly crowded) and go to it. By the best, I mean one where the participants would describe the instructor as, “easy to follow”.
The reason behind this is simple: a good step instructor has learned how to cue properly. Why? Because if they donâ€™t, the results are disastrous in their studio…people turning every which way- into each other, into the steps, falling, getting hurt- you get the idea. If you are not a stepper, simply listen. How do they cue? How early? How late? A good cue typically is given 4 beats before the needed action. Any later and it is too late for the verbal cue to be carried out. Any earlier, and the action will most likely be carried out before the instructor wanted it to be.
Why is cueing important as a cycle instructor? I donâ€™t know if you all are like me, but I like to know what is coming. In a broad sense, as in what we are doing for our overall ride, and in a narrower sense, as in what is coming up on the specific road and what the expectations are in the next few seconds. I personally get frustrated when cues are thrown at me and the movement is already in play.
One of the best examples of this is lifts, or jumps. Cueing to lift out of the saddle 4 beats ahead gives the rider time to prepare and the sense of satisfaction when they are ready and able to lift out of the saddle on time.
We have a large ride here in Minneapolis every year and it is classic…the instructor cues the lifts like this: “up, down, up, down, up, down” ad nausium and the ups and the downs come right on the beat of the movement. As I look around the room of 100â€™s of riders, no one is lifting or lowering at the same time.
This could all be remedied simply with good cueing.
Even things like, “In four counts we are going to get up out of the saddle and tackle this billy goat path, taking our heart rate up to AT”, or “in 4 counts we are going to add some load and pull out to the left, passing the rider in front of us”, give our riders confidence in us as their coach and instructor.
So, check out the group fitness step instructor…the GOOD one that keeps their class in control and rocking and rolling in an orderly fashion. Listen to how they cue. When they do it and how the class responds. I took it for granted until I had to start doing it because a good one makes it look really easy. In fact, we donâ€™t even know they are doing it. You can be like that too with a little practice.
If you are interested in learning more about cueing check out Gin Miller's Blog. Gin invented the “Step Class” and you may find her articles on cueing helpful.
One more thing – When John recorded his class he found that he works too hard. I am going to figure out how to record on my Droid and I will let you know in the weeks ahead what I learn about How I Sound 🙂
Originally posted 2011-09-14 12:03:21.
Blink, Blink, Blink …………………goes the clock on your VCR. Yep, I said it, VCR. It is mind boggling to me that I have children (ages two and four) who will never know a Tape Player, VCR, 8 Track, and possibly even a DVD. Technology moves fasters than the fastest cyclist on his/her best day. But this story isnâ€™t about VCRâ€™s or technology. Itâ€™s to illustrate a point about how we as a culture like to change, modify, and complicate things even when they donâ€™t need to be. I am writing this even at the risk of getting backlash from much more “technical” and experienced outdoor riders. But like I said in my first post, I speak from the heart and youâ€™re either going to love me or hate me. If youâ€™re looking for stats or data to shave off 3 seconds from your hill climb…..then Iâ€™m not your guy.
I still remember the very first VCR my mom and stepfather bought. He was a car dealer and had gotten a great bonus check. It was summer, probably July, and we loaded up in the car and headed to the Video Rental store. For you young readers, we used to have places that had VCR tapes lined up on all of the walls so you could choose what you wanted. In addition, WAY back then (early 1980â€™s) we had discs that looked like large vinyl records but played like a DVD. They were encased inside hard plastic covers. Anyway, back to my story. The VCR most likely costs us $600, weighed as much as my brother and I combined, and if I am not mistaken had no more than 5 features. Play; Stop, Pause, Forward and Backward. More expensive ones had “Record” so you could tape Price is Right or your favorite soap, but as a 10 year old I was just excited to rent Friday the 13th (The first one).
That VCR had less technology than the cheapest, crappiest cell phone on the market today, but when I look back it did absolutely everything that we ever needed it to. Then somewhere in some big board room a group of people decided that we (the consumer) needed to have options. And not just a couple, but over a hundred that the most experienced technical engineer would have trouble programming. So my question is WHY !?!?! Why do we need to complicate every single thing in our world to the point that we either lose some of the enjoyment OR feel like a complete idiot because we canâ€™t or donâ€™t want to spend the day trying to figure it out ?
How does this apply to us, the indoor cycling people of the world? And actually, I will go so far as to throw in all Group Ex AND Personal trainers to this query. What are WE doing as coaches and leaders to complicate things that donâ€™t need to be complicated? I still believe, and may be wrong with everyone OUTSIDE my class, that my people come to me for more than instruction on how to peddle, when to get their heart rate up, or when to stand up. Letâ€™s face it, I “teach” (HATE to use the word teach, I prefer coach) a class on how to get on a bike and peddle. Sure, there are MILLIONS of ways to teach and A LOT that goes into it……FOR AN ELITE ATHLETE to do the tour!!! But I have 30 to 60 people who, like me, are there for so much more than to learn all the tricks to shave off 3 seconds from their best time. And even if my people ARE there to learn how to shave of the 3 seconds, I believe (speaking about my people of almost 20 years) are trying to shave that time for internal reasons. Reasons of personal growth, pride in ones accomplishments, or even to use that shaved 3 seconds as a metaphor for something much bigger in their life. Thatâ€™s why I teach and have always taught from a spiritual perspective and not so much from a technical perspective.
I am so fortunate to “coach” at arguably the best club in the US. I spent 10 years in all 50 States as a Sales manager and so I have been in too many gyms to name. I have seen trends in workouts, classes, equipment, and I am never surprised at what comes next. Right now this “Cross Fit” craze is amazing to me. We are now as an industry demonstrating that “hey, you didnâ€™t need to join a gym with all the Cybex equipment because that spare tire in your garage, sprints up and down your street, and jump rope is all you need for a great workout. And you know what, theyâ€™re right. Why is a sprint on a Schwinn spinning bike any more beneficial than a sprint up the hill in your neighborhood?? Itâ€™s different because our people come to us for something they canâ€™t get at home in the basement or in the garage. For some of you, maybe it is the technical lingo you use. Some of you may be like me and teach good form but with a focus on the “spiritual” aspect of the ride. The truth is that if we do it right and with proper form, then all of these things will get us to the goal, which is for our people to walk out feeling healthier and in MY opinion both “physically” AND “mentally.”
My point is that we donâ€™t have to complicate things the way we sometimes do just so that we can stick with the trends. If your class demands that, than do it. But donâ€™t lose focus on your core audience of people, the ones who stuck by you for 20 years. Give them the best music, the best guidance, the best stories, and the best up to date techniques IF that is what is going to give you and them the result youâ€™re looking for. Letâ€™s remember and never lose sight of the fact that our members come to us to lead them and if we tell them that rubbing their tummy while sprinting doubles the amount of calories they burn, then chances are most will do just that. So itâ€™s our obligation to introduce the right amount of “new” technology if and only if the benefit is there. THEY are giving up one hour of their lives and putting it in our hands. I for one ONLY want to provide the best.
So the next time you jump on your bike ready to start class, remember that blinking clock on your old VCR and ask yourself “have I put together a class with total focus on helping them achieve their goals?” or have you designed it based on an article on the latest “Crave” from some gym in a posh LA studio? Do your research, make sure the latest “thing” is right for your students and then apply it. But donâ€™t buy the VCR with 100 programmable features that you donâ€™t know or understand until you SET THE CLOCK ON IT FIRST!! Now go press PLAY and have some fun. And please send me your thoughts so I can learn my audience.
This Podcast is was last published on Feb 2, 2017, I have updated it with our new Podcast host information and I am representing it now. I hope you enjoy it, Joey
Continuing this week's focus on “selling endurance” – please enjoy this Podcast from our archives featuring Spinning Master Instructor Janet Toussaint.
Sometime I feel like a parasite! I get a hold of a Master Instructor and I'm not satisfied until I have sucked as much information from him or her as possible.
Janet Toussaint has some great ideas on how to sell the concept of Endurance Training to your class – we take this discussion even deeper than the last one.
Through the beauty of modern technology, you can listen to this whenever and wherever you wish.
While it may seem redundant to say, most indoor bikes do not move. Please, stop and think about that for a moment. We are not talking about forward motion or distance, of course an indoor bike does not move forward. But what about the other motions that are involved in cycling.
When a rider is out of the saddle, most riders sway the bike from side to side a bit. Why does this happen? Generally, it is the mechanical reality of the situation due to applying extreme power to each pedal. Since the pedals are not on the centerline of the bike, applying a large force to the right pedal will, physically speaking, apply a rotational force that pushes the top of the bike to the right and the bottom of the bike to the left. Without this counterbalancing motion, the wheel would kick out to the side. By swaying the bike in the opposite direction, the amount of force that can be applied to the pedals is increased without crashing.
The second primary aspect of swaying the bike is that it allows the rider to engage their upper body (especially core and arms) into the movement which increases power.
Take a moment and watch some of the pros race, they only have about a 12 degree sway; less than most avid riders. This is due to their efficiency and power.
The last aspect of swaying the bike is that it allows the rider to more thoroughly align their biomechanics with the work that is being done. By tilting the bike, the rider is able to keep the leg that is driving down with a majority of the force in alignment lessoning the outward lateral stress on the joints.
With the exception of a few new bikes on the market, most indoor bikes do not provide movement side-to-side, and none of them replicate the true motion of an outdoor bicycle. Because of this limitation, instructors must emphasize relaxation when riding and allow gentle upper-body movement. Attempting to maintain a still upper body can place the spine and surrounding muscles at risk from the forces being generated by the legs.
I hope this helps, Joey
Watt Is Power? Or rather what is power?
With a title like that, we could be here for days. Perhaps a better title would have been: What Is Power As It Relates To Cycling or even more to the point would be: Training on Indoor Cycling or Spinning® Bikes With Power. But as you see, that would have been quite a long and clunky title. So I spared you. Naturally, we will be confining our discussion to how the dynamics and science of Power has been applied to the sport of cycling. More specifically how it relates to the world of Indoor Cycling or Spinning® and the equipment used for this in most fitness facilities; stationary bikes. While most of our work was done on the Keiser M3 indoor bike, we are currently in the process of acquiring other power bikes for continued independent research.
Power is the product of strength and speed or put in terms of indoor cycling, the resistance applied to the fly wheel, and the RPM or cadence of pedaling. That seems pretty easy to understand right. The equation that comes to mind is:
Power = Resistance X Cadence
Oh if it were only this simple. Well, for the purposes of Indoor Cycling or Spinning®, this is all we need to know, and thuse, we have made it that simple. However, if you ride outside, you need to know that there are quite a few factors that also impact power as it relates to cycling. While we enjoy the perfection of a controlled environment for training, riding outside is anything but a perfect and consistent. Consequently, there are lots of factors that can affect oneâ€™s power. A bunch of very smart people from Penn State put together a nifty Power Calculator for those of you who are even bigger data geeks than myself. You can find it at: http://www.me.psu.edu/lamancusa/ProdDiss/Bicycle/bikecalc1.htm
Here is a sneak peak at all the factors that go into calculating power when we move outside:
As you can see form the screen shot above, at least 65 thousand other people have a similar curiosity about power. You can also find a kazillion references to power as it relates to cycling on the internet, but our discussions will be squarely focused on how power is measured and used for Indoor Cycling or Spinning®.
This does not mean that the power generated indoors is not the same as the power generated outdoors. Essentially they are the same. It simply means there are different methods used to measure that power due to differences in equipment, environment and cost. Yes, there will be differences in the Watts you generate indoors, and what your power meter measures outdoors. Even cyclists who use the exact same bike, with the exact same power meters indoors and out will experience differences. Shocking as it may seem, the most expensive equipment available will still produce variations due to the enormous influence environment has on the rider and the equipment.
Nevertheless, this does not take away the value of training with power. Power meters still represents one of the best tools for improving your general fitness and/or performance on a bike that has hit the Indoor Cycling or Spinning® market in a very long time. The differences between indoors and out will not negate these positive effects. At the end of the day, itâ€™s the results we are looking for, and training with power will surely deliver!
Read more of Gino's Training with Power Articles – Here
I'm sure I could list 10 or 20 clichÃ©s that everyone reading this could relate to, but I'm only going to do a couple. “If I knew then what I know now,” and then one of my personal favorites in this genre “You don't know what you don't know.”
Being that this is only my third post, you may not yet know that much about me, so let me summarize one more time. I'm a passionate spinning instructor who motivates through stories, emotions, and what I like to call triggers. I've always felt that the reason people come to my class over someone elseâ€™s is based on my approach and style. I spend most of the time digging around in their thoughts and pulling out emotions that fuel the fire to make them push harder on the bike. I wouldn't say that my stories are always rainbows and roses, and sometimes my metaphors cut close to home……..but thatâ€™s the point. I want to shake them out of the haze so they donâ€™t “spend” and hour with me, thy “INVEST” an hour with me. And I think even the most die-hard cyclist would agree that all the instructions in the world on how to peddle that bike wonâ€™t mean a thing if that person isnâ€™t invested in the workout both physically AND mentally. The bottom line is, if you're going to come to my class or read my posts, then you're going to learn about me and my journey, and I'm not just talking about the good parts. And by doing that, I hope it helps you tap into your entire toolbox of tricks in order to get your class to their highest level.
So back to the clichÃ©. I very recently experienced two very extreme paradigm shifts. One is negative, and one is positive, but they are BOTH going to help me make the point.
Without wasting anymore of your time (my first post summed up my brutal divorce and what it did to me) let me just say this one thing and move on. The year I spent trying to finalize my divorce was the most horrible, brutal, exhausting, and painful thing I have ever done in my whole life. But what I know now is it didnâ€™t have to be. If I had listened, TRULY listened to the people around me then I wouldnâ€™t have almost lost myself in that mess, I wouldnâ€™t have been physically ill to the point that I feel as if 20 years of my life are gone, and most of all I would have been more present to the people and opportunites around me rather than obsessing over things that matter deeply to me (and any parent) but DID NOT matter to the judge (or poor excuse for one). But “I didnâ€™t know what I didnâ€™t know.”
The second paradigm shift I have been experiencing since May 9th, 2011 is with regards to being a parent or as I like to say being a “dad.” If youâ€™re a parent than I could stop right now and you would get it, but if youâ€™re not, let me explain a little more.
I can remember being around 10 years old growing up in a small town in Maine, and in the summer my mom and step dad wanting to walk with my brother and I after dinner. YUCK !! Being seen with my parents !?!?! How embarrassing right ? You probably all remember something similar to this in your youth. But then you have kids and YOU GET IT !! You now understand why a mom or a dad would have this obsession with wanting to spend time with you. You understand to reason they worry when you ask to do a sport or why they look panicked when you come home late. Once you are a parent, you understand (or at least I did) what it means to love someone more than yourself. I could not tell you what I ate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on May 9th 2011 or April 23rd, 2013 (the birthdays of my daughter Taylor and my son Brady), BUT I can describe for you their first sounds and every mind blowing emotion I had on those days when I got that first glimpse of their beautiful smiles. Had I known these things back when I was that little boy growing up in Maine, maybe I would have cut my mom some slack on those walks and not made sure to be a block ahead of them. But “I didnâ€™t know what I didnâ€™t know.”
These two examples are powerful to me because I lived them, but maybe they arenâ€™t for you so let me try a different approach and then hopefully I can wrap this up in a pretty bow so you can decide if this is a “tool” for your instructor toolbox.
Do you know a reformed smoker who quit because the doctor said they had lung cancer? Do you know someone who lost a massive amount of weight because their doctor told them lose it or you will be gone in 3 months? How about a man or women whoâ€™s spouse said “if you cheat again I am leaving you” and the spouse smartened up? Why is it that we will do things we KNOW are bad for us and hurt others, and we will tell ourselves we “canâ€™t stop,” yet when we are faced with losing everything, even our life, that we all of a sudden muster the courage and strength to give these things up?? I am as bad as anyone. The day after my daughter was born I taught class and I recall saying to them “I get paid to teach here but thatâ€™s not the reason I do. I do because I started having kids late (40 years old) and one day I plan to walk my granddaughter down the aisle one day.” Now for those paying attention, my daughter Taylor is only 4 years old and Brady is 2. So that means I have to do everything I can to stay healthy for probably at least another 50 years !! And if you ask how I know I will have a granddaughter, then ask me about the letter I wrote 20 years ago, mailed it to myself, and is still sitting in my safe. It was written to my daughter Taylor who I described to a “T” right down to saying she was part Asian. I have always known, and one day when she is old enough to understand the significance, she can open that SEALED and Post marked letter and read it herself.
But I am telling you now, I am a hypocrite. I say these things, yet the other day I was told that I need to stop drinking diet coke because itâ€™s poison. I said “I know” but I only drink it when I have a meal. And at some point in that conversation I literally said “well if I found out it was making me sick then OF COURSE I would stop.” Then it hit me…….it is making me sick. One slow day at a time. Just like the person stressing over the mortgage bill is getting sick, and the person who canâ€™t get of the couch is getting sick, and believe it or not, the person or people who are coming to our class and NOT working out are basically wasting their hour and likely on their way to less health, less energy, and less time on this earth with the people they love. Itâ€™s not as simple as “going to the gym.” I know that, you know that, and they really know that……..but if they arenâ€™t really acting on it then the hour at the gym is nothing but wasted time. We need to do more than play the music and cue the sprints. We need to find a way, open a door, to whatever it is gonna take to convince them that this isnâ€™t just a “class” or a place where they meet their friend before coffee and 2 hours of gossip. We need them to understand that this thing we do, peddling a bike for an hour, has meaning and DOES effect pretty much everything they will do that day, week, and year. Work hard, release endorphins and lose weight. Release endorphins and be in a better mood, have more energy, feel better with less aching. All those things will make you a better friend, spouse, dad. Those things will affect THEIR lives. More memories will be created, more love will be shared, more ideas are sparked, more friends are made, more passion is found, more more more more. We owe it to our students to find a way to make them understand this isnâ€™t just an hour to waste. I wish someone had sit me down and slapped me until I understood the damage I was causing to my soul during the year of my divorce by wasting time on things that only mattered to me because I was hurting. I wish someone had found a way to make me understand what those walks meant for my mom because she wonâ€™t ever get that 10 year old boy back. And I hope anyone in YOUR lives right now who is saying “I could never do that” or “thatâ€™s impossible” have someone like you to sit them down and say “Unless youâ€™re talking about WALKING to the moon, then please stop saying thatâ€™s impossible.” The next time YOU teach a class, I want you to pretend ( please forgive the dramatic analogy) that you are their doctor and itâ€™s up to you to convince them that they can no longer take THIS workout lightly and that THIS workout matters because it does and chances are “They donâ€™t know what they donâ€™t know.”
PS My road to quitting diet soda starts this week for my two children and my grandchildren to follow. Happy Spinning!
By ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas
Many things contribute to a great Indoor Cycling class, but none as much as cueing. Cueing a class is a skill, even an art, that develops over decades. Like public speaking, itâ€™s about more than the words and involves multiple factors.
Cues add depth and color to a class and focus the students on aspects other than getting some exercise. In the class of a Master Instructor, the words flow, go beyond workout instructions, and command attention.
Weâ€™re professional instructors, and cueing is our craft.
Every class needs an opening. No matter how many times youâ€™ve taught the group, the opening is critical to the success of each class. While itâ€™s OK to greet students personally with just your voice, always open on the microphone. The tone and content of a good opening should be amplified.
When you open, you must do two things: get in sync with the students and grab their attention. If theyâ€™re quiet and serious, don't open energetically. Use a subdued tone. Once your energy matches theirs, move them to where you want to take them. Even in a subdued voice, though, you have to get them to listen right away.
Instructors may miss an effective opening by socializing with the students or ignoring them while fiddling with their bike or music. As with any presentation, the opening sets the tone for the class.
“Good morning, everyone. As we start, I want you to focus on what youâ€™re doing and whatâ€™s happening. The rollout is a special time in the ride. Let me tell you why.”
Whether you open from the bike or from the floor, your opening depends on that optimal moment that experience helps you feel. Itâ€™s the moment when students first direct their attention toward you and are most receptive. Use it as soon as you feel it.
Cueing the Class
The cues for the day should encompass more than ride instructions or motivation. Cues can relate to the Concept, the Workout, Exercise Science, Philosophy, Music, Video, Personal Experience, or Motivation.
The Concept is what you want your students to learn from the dayâ€™s class and is more important than the Workout. Your concept can be standard, such as Endurance, or more esoteric, such as Finishing Every Climb. If itâ€™s an endurance class, teach the concept of endurance. Thereâ€™s the science of endurance (aerobic metabolism, building a foundation, oxygen transfer), and thereâ€™s the philosophy (contemplation, discipline, resilience). The more your knowledge and experience grow, the more compelling your cues become.
The Workout consists of the mechanics of the class, which we learn in any Indoor Cycling curriculum: ride positions, hand positions, terrain, cadence, technique, proper breathing and modifications. Many instructors never progress their cueing beyond this.
Exercise Science cues should support the day's concept. If you don't know much about exercise science, read some articles or tap into the wealth of fitness information here for PRO members. Students look to us to explain whatâ€™s happening in their bodies through exercise. Itâ€™s disappointing when an Indoor Cycling instructor can't explain the physiology of cardio.
Cues around Philosophy take some experience. Yet students may need to hear them to realize what theyâ€™re doing transcends exercise (which may become boring). It takes courage to introduce these cues because they can sound preachy. The key is to say them as a student of philosophy whoâ€™s still seeking answers — and stick to cycling. When you talk about a philosophical point youâ€™ve contemplated for a long time, it won't sound preachy.
Music and Video are sensory assets that can and should be included in your cues. Why did you select the song youâ€™re playing — the nuance? The structure? Why did you want the class to ride to the video segment you put up that day? These make relevant and interesting cues.
Personal Experience lets your class know that you feel what youâ€™re asking them to feel. Even if you don't ride a bike, years of dedication to your cycling-based workouts are a quality experience. For instance, how did your thousandth class differ from your first?
Last are Motivation cues. These are straightforward encouragement but too heavily relied upon by many instructors. When said time and again, motivational cues lose their impact. “You can do it” is much more effective when used infrequently. Said at the right time with the right tone, though, it can change the direction of a student's effort.
A close for each class is important and a good time to make a final, perhaps philosophical, point. Students are open and receptive after a hard effort.
Timing cues properly is one sign of a quality instructor. Timing is your sense of flow, your sensitivity to whatâ€™s happening in class, and how you change in the moment to balance and maximize performance.
Time your cues around the vocals in your music; speak in the pauses. Match the video playing. Couple that with tone: Should you be supportive and quiet? Firm and commanding? Never yell.
When youâ€™ve timed your cues well, the class energy will build, and the students will be with you.
No matter how good you are, inexperienced students with less awareness will exercise “unconsciously” and not listen. Youâ€™ll need to repeat cues, finding different ways to say the same thing.
If this type of cueing is different from what you do, ease into it. One day, try an attention-grabbing opening that explains the workout, and close by summarizing it. Another day, open with how important cardio fitness is. During the class, explain one physiological point that you know really well. Close by reminding the students of that benefit they just got.
The goal is optimal communication that lets the students walk away with something besides exercise.
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