I had been to plenty of cycling classes before this one. I had sat through the militant instructors, rigid with instruction. I had pedaled through classes where the coach was crouched, hidden behind his music. But here I sit, perched on a bike in the center of the back row, vowing to myself that this would be the last instructor that I tried out. And in she walked—her confidence and comfort oozing out. I could tell, even from my seat in the back row and only from her entrance, that she was the instructor that I had believed existed only in myth. But there she was.
Over the next few months, I attached myself to her classes and finally realized what it was about her that drew me in. It was her ability to blend the gentle with the firm. Before class started, she would move throughout the room, helping people set their bikes up properly, almost whispering them the instructions, making each person feel like they were the only rider in the room. This was the gentle—the ability to quietly coach in the time before the first beat dropped out of the sound system.
And then there was the firm. Once she was in the saddle and the pedals started to fly, her ability to coach and cue the ride was unmatched in the local market. Her vocabulary was rich with adjectives, and her verbs were more than variations on “be.” So, “You are climbing a mountain” becomes “You grind and claw your way up the jagged side of an almost vertical slope.”
Once the ride was over, she met each of us at the door to offer, again, almost-whispered encouragement. So, if I were to offer advice on captivating your audience, I would have to say that it starts before class, and it extends well beyond the cool down. And it is all about the balance.
Originally posted 2011-06-10 20:37:05.
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