Instructor Tom Lahoud left such a thoughtful comment on Stop the Talkers – Step Three… Let’s Fix This Today! I felt it deserved it's own post 🙂
Take it away Tom >>>>
Great post and well detailed. I appreciate all the great articles you post.
The challenges you described are all too familiar to me. I’ve found a simple solution that works for my indoor cycling classes, and is based on my experience running a small business that provides software training classes. In that capacity, we teach software productivity courses (1, 2 and up to 5 day workshops) where there could be 20, 50 or even 100 participants. The distractions are numerous: participants checking their emails, texting, talking to their colleagues, etc. It is unfortunate because they have to bring their laptops and mobile devices to class. So, in order to deliver a more effective training session, we first had to understand the causes of distraction:
1. People use training classes, and for that matter, indoor cycling classes as a social venue, a “catch-up” of sorts. They meet friends, colleagues and chit chat about their families, work or other issues.
2. We are all wired, 24/7. The availability of mobile devices and the need to have them tends to add another layer of distraction. There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to repeat a key topic during a training class only because the person who asked was checking their email.
We found the solution to be tricky. The effectiveness of the solution, however, was in its simplicity.
1. Establish a basic ground rule and make them promise to respect it.
At the beginning of each software training class and also at the beginning of each indoor cycling class I teach, I ask all participants to silence their phones, avoid chatting, and in the case of software training classes, I ask them to not check their email, instant messaging or texts until break time. Then, and this is key, I request that they promise to respect this rule. I know we are all adults here, but sometimes, you have to go back to basics.
2. Make them commit to the belief that the class is their time, their investment and thus, their reward.
Again, at the start of each class, I define the objectives of why we are here and what we are trying to accomplish. For indoor cycling classes, I simply state that for next 60minutes, this will be “your time” where you focus on your health and mental well-being. I ask all participants to take a moment to empty their minds of all distractions, worries and anxiety and leave those outside the studio (to be collected later of course). Then I ask that we all respect our collective time by not creating distractions. [I love this line!]
With these two basic rules, I have found greater success in creating an experience for riders that extends beyond the social gathering aspects. In fact, I hear frequent feedback from riders that in that one hour, they have found a way to re-focus and re-recommit; to re-balance and de-escalate; and, to have fun and enjoy the workout at the same time.
In closing, the important of establishing these ground rules will define you as an instructor who places a high priority on the participants’ time and commitment. They will respond in kind.
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.
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