It’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant!

During the weeks of September we were focused on improving our instructor and coaching skills.  Articles were posted on how we look, sound and feel as we lead our classes. We were already bubbling with info, thoughts and ideas and then the ICI/Pro Conference hit and WOW — knowledge/inspiration overload! I walked around during the little time I had between my sessions and witnessed the buzz, with excitement flying everywhere.  Sometimes we can receive so much (good) information and energy that we end up overwhelmed and paralyzed and utter (in a very small voice)....”I just want to teach a great indoor cycling class...”  We can struggle to try to implement EVERYTHING we learned which may run the risk of turning us into an instructor we are not.  Huh!?

You bring a certain energy, passion and experience to your classes that is unique to you.  That is why people love you. We want to hone our skills without changing the personality and style that make us who we are. Now if we realized something we were doing was not correct or better done a different way, by all means, change that. But sometimes we can stumble away from a bombardment of information thinking we need to be totally different.  I’ve taken a week to digest what happened to me over the last month of both writing (which is a self-convicting exercise), presenting and digesting what others have been saying, and I needed a gut check and a way to approach “how” to improve AND “what” to improve on.

Here is a concept from Cycling Fusion’s Essential Training for Indoor Cycling workshop that may help sort it out. To help instructors with this improvement dilemma, Gene Nacey created the CHIME Cueing method.  CHIME is an acronym that stands for the attributes of a good, well-rounded instructor: “Coaching, Helping, Inspiring, Motivating and Educating”. Among the benefits of using this method is the ability to assess what type of instructor you are and how to continually improve. I’ll give you some definition for each one, but before you start running amuck criticizing yourself, let me give you 2 pieces of guidance:

(1) The 10,000-Foot View

First, think through each attribute and how much of each you currently exhibit, and more importantly ENJOY using in class.  This cursory exploration will provide a good view of our overall teaching approach.  Each of us will have a tendency toward different attributes based on our style and what type of instructor we are or want to be.  Some of us like to coach or are coaches so leaning toward that trait in our classes is natural.  Others of us may bring inspiration which can be a great way to bring beginners into our world.  And still others may be the eternal educators who provide life-changing wisdom with every ride. And the list goes on....  Who are you?

(2) Going Deep

Now, take another tour through these attributes to see which you believe need improving. You can do this in 2 ways: (1) be brutally honest with yourself or, (2) ask someone else to be brutally honest for you.  Remember, the goal is not to have 100% of each attribute. Not only would that be rare, but it would demonstrate a lack of passion. What?! Yes, someone who is good at everything often does it at the expense of being great at something.  We have an expression in athletic training; “Race your strengths and train your weaknesses”  Continue to run (or ride) with your strengths as an instructor, but also work on those areas that are not your strong suit so you can become more effective.


Here is a brief description and example of each attribute to get you thinking:

We tend to focus more on the big picture and the “complete” rider. We emphasize the commitment to what was started and seeing the changes as the goal grows nearer:

“I’m counting on seeing each of you here every Monday.  It’s our commitment to each other. I’ve seen you working really hard in class.  You’re doing great!”

We are always looking for ways to help riders with even the smallest things from finding the right cycling shoes to becoming more aware on the bike:

Instructor sees a student with inadequate resistance, and hips popping.  “As we increase our cadence, you may begin to feel your hips pop or jump a little bit.  If that happens, add just a little more resistance, and you will feel your hips stabilize

We pull from past experiences, whether ours or someone else’s to inspire our class to push through:

Instructor has a student learning to use a heart monitor for the first time, and they seem confused.
Don’t worry, I couldn’t even set my watch before I started using a heart monitor.  Now I use it every time I train indoors and out.  It has become as common as putting on my shoes and I’ve seen so much improvement in my fitness.

We look ahead at the goal and bring it to life, drawing it closer and making it tangible:

The class is in the last 5 minutes of a 20 minute power test.   “Yeah, this is where it hurts, and this is where you want to back off, but this is also where you prove that you have what it takes to see it through to the end.

We love and thrive on training concepts and know that if our rider’s understand them, they will train smarter and see “real” results:

The instructor is about to do Sprints in an advanced class.   “In this advanced class, we are going to focus more on developing the fast twitch muscles.  These are engaged in the most explosive efforts like sprinting, or hard accelerations.


Please feel free to share cues and approaches from your strengths so we can all learn, grow and become more well-rounded instructors.


Originally posted 2011-10-09 08:11:00.

Tom Scotto
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