by Team ICG® Master Trainer Chuck Cali
As I prepared to support ICG at IHRSA 2013, I considered the ICG tenet that learning is about removing resistance.
I had just gotten back from a bit of Vegas shopping. A nice saleslady asked me what I was doing in Vegas and told me about the time she and her friends first tried indoor cycling. She loved it and was hooked, but her friends ran away and never came back. She explained that their initial reluctance to try something with a reputation for being hard had unfortunately been validated.
The cycling class tradition is steeped in that reputation — it”™s crazy hard and the people doing it are crazier still. The reputation makes it difficult to get new riders. There”™s built-in resistance to the classes. Regrettably, many instructors deliver indiscriminately on the reputation.
Yet we know that doesn”™t need to be the case. How an instructor begins a class can go a long way toward removing resistance for first-timers. So I”™ve developed a list. I”™m not sure if they”™re “Dos and Don”™ts” or “Pros and Cons”, but certainly following these tenets during every class will help improve the reputation of indoor cycling.
YOU MUST GET THERE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EARLY!!
This seemingly simple, yet consistently underemployed, strategy will put you in a calmer place. Your riders can feel your tension. Moreover, it gives you a chance to get ready without stress and bond a bit with your riders. Especially first-timers.
BE ATTENTIVE TO FIRST-TIME RIDERS
Many first-time riders will not approach you with that information. They tend to wander in, head to the back of the room, and look for a bike that fits. If you”™re in discussion with your roadie friend, picking videos, lacing up your bike shoes, emailing or texting, you could easily miss them. Be on the lookout.
PERFORM A BIKE FIT TO GET TO KNOW THEM AND LET THEM KNOW YOU
I”™m often made fun of for the amount of time I take doing bike fits for my riders. Well, LOL, for first-timers, the key is the time you give them, rather than how precisely you fit them. While doing the bike fit, I ask their name, talk about the console (if applicable), show them how to change resistance, define some terms I”™ll use, explain the order of tasks (fun, cadence, resistance), and most importantly, explain how to modify anything I ask. Make your first connection here.
START CLASS BY WELCOMING THE NEW PEOPLE
I may catch some flak here because some people don”™t like to be called out. But rather than calling them out, I simply state that we have a first-timer and have everyone clap. Then we get to it.
MAKE EYE CONTACT AND GIVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
During class, check in on your first-timer. It”™s simple. Watch. Make eye contact. Smile and nod reassuringly. If they”™re struggling, find an opportune moment to get off the bike, turn off the mic, and give some help. Help other riders along the way.
TALK TO THEM AFTER CLASS
As much as practical, get right to your first-timers and talk to them. How did it feel? What did you like? What didn”™t you like? Did you get the workout you expected? Where to buy cycling shorts and shoes. Welcome them into the community.
FINAL WORDS ON EDUCATION
Innovation has been the cornerstone of the ICG mission. Our approach to education — learning is a process of removing resistance — is a giant leap forward for indoor cycling. As an instructor, you have the opportunity to remove resistance and educate both your regular riders and beginners. The longevity of our craft depends on bringing in, educating and motivating new riders. Removing resistance is the first step. Take it.
At IHRSA, I worked the ICG booth and was fortunate — in some bizarre way — to be cornered by two club owners after my second of three demo rides. Both used the same language.
"You”™re very good at teaching to video. But, of course, that”™s why your company brought you here. How can we get our instructors to do as well as you and make their classes just as compelling?”
I explained that the best programs are those where the synergy between club management and employees is high. When management works closely with the group exercise teams to educate, promote, nurture and applaud, good things happen. The corollary is that management first needs to go in search of “the best of the best (and) make them better”. (Yes, I stole that line from “Top Gun.”)
They were surprised to hear that ICG's online continuing education is free for everyone, not just those who buy our widgets. I explained our concept of educating by removing resistance. Our online modules are there for all — and you don”™t have to start at the top. Nor do the instructors, who have learned a thing or two over the years, have to read all the chapters before taking the quiz at the end of each module.
As instructors, we can”™t lose sight of the fact that, if we”™re not working on improving our craft, then it could be better.
Originally posted 2013-05-20 05:27:27.