Like always, there is no pat answer. It often depends on the instructor”™s teaching style, the type of ride and the class”™s expectation.

Teaching Style

I tend to break down the style categories as Coach, Trainer and Instructor.

The Coach is on the road with you, but is often not working at the same intensity because they are…well….coaching you.  They are passing on wisdom, strategy and sports education while riders are pouring their guts out.  To a cyclist, and those in the “cycling world”, this is very acceptable IF the “coach” actually knows what they are talking about, puts together a good workout, and can walk (or ride) the talk.

The Trainer is often focused on the here and now — “Let”™s finish this interval…..Come on, you”™ve got 3 more efforts to go….Don”™t stop until you get to the top of that hill!”  A trainer”™s energy and motivation is not required from the bike, but from their direction and firm challenge to get the job done.  It is acceptable for the trainer to be off the bike a good amount of the time as they instill determination (and fear) to drag every last drop out of their riders.  Similar to the coach, the trainer needs to be the real thing.  They are often sweating as they infuse energy into everyone within a 20-foot radius.  It is tough work.

The Instructor is on the bike with their riders and usually suffering with them as well.  They turn every pedal stroke, lead every charge and motivate by sharing in the pain.  The instructor is often seen as one of the gang with the motto “we”™ll get there together!”  They are dripping in sweat (even the gals) as their breathy encouragement pushes riders to their limit.

So putting them in order of how hard they are working (on the bike), the Trainer is riding the least, the Coach is at a moderate intensity and the Instructor is at equal intensity with the class.  All are absolutely acceptable.  AND I would say that anyone teaching an indoor cycling class SHOULD embody the qualities of each of these styles and use them appropriately.

Type of Ride

Considering the teaching styles above, there would also be certain types of rides that would require more effort and intensity from the instructor.  I may come off the bike during shorter interval-based workouts when riders could benefit from more personal attention such as helping them with technique.  On longer steady-state efforts or long climbs, I may wander into coach mode (on the bike) to keep them mentally and physically engaged.  On the hand, it would seem odd (at least to me) to be off the bike while teaching a virtual ride.  It would be as if I was walking along the road as my class road by (unless of course I imagined I was Johan Bruyneel talking to riders from the team car….).

Class Expectation

In many respects, what the class expects is much a product of the teaching style and ride format you have established.  If you want to find out if you are hitting the mark by riding at an intensity that is motivating, don”™t only ask those that regularly attend your class.  They are usually there because they like your approach.  Ask the new riders what they thought.  I would go as far as specifically asking if they prefer more of a Coaching, Trainer or Instructor led class and see how they respond.

Not So Inspiring (to me)

Of course, if you”™ve got the above locked in, you are golden, but I”™ve seen those that do not have the right teaching style for the job or are riding way too hard.  The extremes would be the instructor who walks around the room in warm-up sweats holding a clipboard (trying to look like an athletic trainer), but lacks any energy or motivation.  My knee-jerk reaction is to reach into my bag in search of my iPod and headphones.  On the other end of the spectrum is the instructor that is working so hard that you can”™t understand anything they are saying.  They are even breathing hard during the recovery! This is distracting and detracting.  I”™m not getting good direction and the instructor appears more concerned with getting their workout than helping the class get where they need to be.

So, in conclusion, mix it up.  Ask your class what they like and what inspires them.  But above all, be genuine. If you”™re trying to be someone you are not, it will stick out like a sore thumb regardless of whether you”™re riding hard enough.

Originally posted 2019-03-05 07:00:19.

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