By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas

Body Language

Remember from Part 1 that teaching indoor cycling is a form of public speaking, which itself is an art.  Employing some public speaking skills will impact your class dramatically.  Great public speakers know that much of their impact comes from body language, including stance, gestures and facial expressions.


When you teach, a strong, disciplined position on the bike is essential for building credibility, expressing your emotions, and connecting with your students.  Nothing discredits an instructor more than moving poorly — rounded back; hunched or protracted shoulders; no fluidity when changing positions; sitting up constantly, often unconsciously, to recover.  You”™ve lost the class before you”™ve started.

Being strong on the bike is not just about your monster CV system.  Your ride position, like a public speaker”™s stance, must be solid to project confidence in front of a class.  Students respond to instructors whose bodies are alive and disciplined.  If someone filmed you while teaching, you might be amazed at how your posture sometimes portrays the opposite of what you tell your class to do.


Use your hands to gesture every so often.  On a bike, your hands belong on the handlebars, but you can keep one hand connected and use the other to emphasize a point or express emotion.

Sit up occasionally and use both hands as a public speaker would.  When sitting up, I tell my students to keep their hands on the handlebars unless they need a back break.

Get off your bike at times, not only to work with individual students, but also to stand closer to the class and gesture with your entire body.

Facial Expression

Eye focus is the most important element of facial expressions, particularly to communicate sincerity.  Don”™t just look around the room as you speak to maintain general eye contact.  Nothing connects you to your students better than focusing on one student long enough to deliver an entire phrase without looking at anyone else.

Pause when you finish and let it sink in for a moment.

This connection between you and one student can rivet the entire class.  What did he say?  Why didn”™t she say that to me?  The technique contributes significantly to comprehension and retention by giving the listener, and anyone else who tuned in, time to process the message.

Most instructors lose their facial expressions while teaching and “solidify” into a single look.  Relax your face right from the start, and always greet your class with a smile.  You won't smile throughout the class, but smile at least at the appropriate moments, like when you crack a joke that was actually funny.  Somber and serious can be effective too, depending on training intensity.

It isn't natural to sit on a bike in front of a group.  It's unusual and odd, so don”™t try to be natural.  Be larger and more powerful.  It takes effort, skill and practice.  Work on your body language to make the most of every class you teach.

Media Support

Steve Jobs was the maestro of using media with his public presentations.  In 2005, he called Madonna on iChat after she signed an exclusive deal with iTunes and displayed the call on a big screen — a great use of media to enhance a presentation.  Check the link:

As instructors we can use voice, music and video to deepen our class presentation experience.


Our tone of voice shows our students whether or not we care.  It tells them whether we”™re in fun mode or feeling excitement, passion and enthusiasm about teaching.  If the members think our class is boring, it may have nothing to do with the workout or music selection, but with a monotone that sounds dull.

Here are some suggestions for making classes more impactful through tone of voice:

  • Pause before emphasizing an important word or concept.
  • Speed up your speaking to show excitement.
  • Tell a story.  This will translate to your vocal quality.
  • Define a moment in your class that might be considered a pinnacle: “Everything we”™ve done to this point has prepared us for the next 2 minutes!”


In public speaking, music is often used as background when participants enter a room to set the mood for a meeting or event.  How much attention do you give to the music you play as your class enters?  The proper music gets people in the right mood to work and adds a touch of drama to your class.

What do you play as the class is leaving?  Music can reaffirm a pleasant atmosphere as your students exit.

Avoid turning music on or off suddenly.  It should always fade in or out slowly.

This post is not about how to use music when you teach, but to expand on your use of music to set the right mood for the class before it begins and when it”™s over.  That”™s what great public speakers do.


Effective use of video to enhance our classes is a prime directive at ICG®.  Forward-motion video can make your class more absorbing and exciting.  Beautifully filmed, high-energy video that showcases destinations from around the world entertains and engages.

Remember, however, that video should never dominate your class.  That important job is always left to you, the instructor.  Video is just another asset that supports your class profile.

At its best, public speaking is flawless talk in a compelling sequence that persuades through command of the language.  It”™s well structured, well delivered, informative, educational and entertaining.  Striving to be better public speakers can make us better indoor cycling instructors.

John's note: We're highlighting some of Jim Karana's past articles this week.   

Jim Karanas
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