Short of provoking a sexual harassment suit, this maybe the best way to get your class excited about what you have in store for them.
I”™m grateful because my riders often take the time to leave comment cards at the club”™s front desk after class and my group fitness directors continually share the feedback with me. One “positive” comment that has been consistent is that members feels that I “set them up for success” from the start. When pushed further, they said, “Tom always tells us what his goal for us is and then how we are going to accomplish it”.
I — MUST — HAVE — AN - OBJECTIVE
As an indoor cycling instructor, I”™m a slave to my coaching tendencies. Simply put, I can”™t design a ride unless I have a clear objective. Because of my cyclist tunnel vision, I consider indoor classes either a training session or event (something we have trained for). So before I start selecting drills or music, I first determine my overall goal for the ride. Am I trying to help them develop some aspect of their fitness (if so, what is it)? Is the goal to climb to the top of a feared moutain? Are we racing in a stage of the Tour de France or a local criterium? I can”™t help myself — I MUST HAVE A PURPOSE! Fortunately, this seems to be viewed as a positive.
Do You Have An Objective For Your Class?
Instructors often mistake all of the tedious work that goes into a profile as the objective. I do not doubt that a tremendous amount of time was invested in creating our ride profile, but more specifically, was the class designed around an objective. To find out, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this ride? What does it produce or help my riders achieve?” Unfortunately, an answer of “to develop general fitness” usually doesn”™t cut it.
Do You Explain the Objective To Your Class?
I proctor numerous auditions for instructors and sometimes sit in on classes (usually spying). In most cases, I”™ll take a moment to talk with the instructor afterwards to introduce myself and ask a few questions about the ride. I”™ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that many instructors have some cool objectives for their ride, but never told the class. They were equally surprised that riders would be interested in that level of detail. “Absolutely, it demonstrates not only a purpose for the ride, but the amount of thought and planning that went into designing it. Your class wants to know what to expect (physical demands), as well as, what (long-term) value it will provide.”
A Sample From This Week”™s Ride
Here is the objective I communicated to my class for this weeks leg speed development ride:
“One key element of cycling fitness is steady, fast and powerful leg speed. Since we are in our base training mode, this is a perfect time to focus on it. We are going to approach this by first performing a drill that helps engage more muscle followed by a series of drills that trains the brain to send the signal to the muscle quicker so we can pedal faster and stronger.
Keep in mind, as you look at today”™s profile (I hang an 11”x17” color laminated chart for each class) you will see a number of consecutive drills before we receive more substantial recovery. So pace yourself. Finally, remember that leg speed is a skill that must be trained. Be patient as you develop your own leg speed. It takes time.”
If you are in the habit of creating classes with a specific focus or training objective, make it known to your riders AND reiterate after class the value they received. If you have not been approaching your rides with a specific purpose, I want to encourage you to start. You don”™t have to be “Joe Coach”, but it should be something that can be explained to your riders. Practice saying your objective out-loud and to yourself. If you are finding it difficult to come up with an objective for an existing class, well…. you may want to revisit the profile and tweak it until you can explain its purpose.
Just to clarify, “fun” is not a purpose, but rather how you deliver it. So Have fun! Really!
Originally posted 2012-01-19 14:19:42.
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I always have an objective for my ride and music and briefly put it out verbally at the beginning. I’ve begun to include it at the end after reading and listening to your other materials.
could we see what one of your charts looks like?
You just don’t know what you don’t know… Tom is lucky that his happy customers comment. That is wonderful when it happens and hopefully management can take it in context along with with the not so glowing.
I’m posting this comment because from Tom’s point another equally important message speaks to me from between the lines. I’m reasonably certain he will agree with this and equally sure he will add his own comment should he feel the need.
That message is; don’t’ get stuck with the idea that your class is expecting only a certain type of class from you. Change it up. Having an objective for every class will certainly help with that but there are many in our classes that could care less about their leg speed, climbing power, FTP or how much ATP they have in their muscles.
If there is one thing John Macgowan is providing with the content on this site it is the opportunity to learn to broaden your skill set.
Tom has been a tremendous contributor on this front (as well as others), take advantage.
I don’t sit in on auditions (unless you count watching them on American idol) but I do drop into classes taught by others. Some I know, others I’ve never met. When I talk to these instructors after class, I ask what they’re doing that is changing it up for their classes? Often I hear, “oh my classes expect me to work them hard from the start. They’re used to me looking down on my iPod the whole class to find the next ‘great’ song”. Or, “they come to me because they know what is coming.”
Well, I’m here to say those instructors might be surprised if they asked.
I remember very clearly my anxiety when I chose to deliver my first virtual ride. My concern was many comment cards complaining. I thought this class could be frustrated that I had moved the bikes around so everyone could see the screen.
This meant that people who like the same bike in the same place would be relocated. OMG. But I had studied and taken a course on ‘how to’ at the ICI/PRO conference in October so I was prepared.
When they filed in I got some weird looks and some “where is my bike grimaces?” “We’re doing a virtual ride tonight.” I said. “A What????” I heard.
Well we got started. And like Tom says to do, I told them what we were doing and what the objective of the virtual ride is. This virtual ride DVD had a vertical profile so they could clearly see we were climbing this night. After the requisite jokes about popcorn during the warm up we settled in did the ride.
THEY LOVED IT. What I thought was a big risk turned out to be no big deal. And they wanted to know when I would do another.
I had mired in a comfort zone that had gone stale for me, so I changed. Not a good reason. Change it up for your class. Call it an objective or focus or challenge or training but the message is don’t get stuck. I can be as simple as displaying the iTunes Viewer during class.