This post has been inspired by one on ICA page which you can read here if you are a member (and if you are an indoor cycling instructor but not a member I would recommend you become one).
It’s about the challenge we group exercise instructors face when new people come to our classes. And this topic is extremely relevant as January approaches and the New-Year-Resolution-Stampede is about to take place.
Queues outside the studios, face offs, cat fights for the bikes, the regulars getting peeved that THEIR bikes are taken, etc. It is always fun. You know it will last 3-5 weeks and things will be back to normal though.
But wouldn’t it be nice to actually convert some of these newbies into regulars? As an instructor you only have those first 2-3 classes (sometimes only that first one) to leave an impression positive enough to make people stick with the classes throughout those first tough few weeks.
Here are my 10 tips that will help you do just that. And they apply to both January Madness and any other time of year. Oh, and yes, you ALWAYS get a new person (or a couple) in each class throughout the year but in January 30% of your group may be people who have never been on an indoor bike.
This post includes 5 and further five are coming next.
- BIKE SET UP
If you don’t pay attention to the set up and don’t instil its importance in the participants from day one, you risk them getting into bad habits at best and not coming back EVER at worst.
Do you remember how much your backside hurt the fist time? Or second? Or really until you started doing 3 classes a week or more? It can put you off completely. Therefore make sure you take time setting the bike up so they suffer for all the right reasons only 🙂
TO DO THAT YOU MUST ARRIVE TO YOUR CLASS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE…
I also finish classes saying:
“Your butts are going to hurt. Maybe not today but tomorrow. You can’t help that. Don’t sit on hard surfaces. If you have another 5-10min stretch properly outside the studio so you can at least save your legs”.
“Give yourself 2-3 classes with different instructors, different times of day before you decide if you hate spin or not”.
2. BEGINNERS HANDOUTS
I have a great hand out that gives advice about shoes, clothes, bike set up etc plus included my contact details in case they have questions. I give these out at the end of the class.
I encourage new faces to come early or stay a bit after the class to check the bike and put down the numbers on the hand out. They can then transfer them onto their phones so next time they come they can set themselves up. It gives them more confidence in the second class.
3. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE BIKES – MAINLY RESISTANCE
I encourage people to use the studio (if the gym permits it, or bikes on the main floor) when there are no classes. Now they know their set up, they can ride with their own music and play with that resistance trying to keep the beat.
As a rule every time I have a complete beginner I ask them to turn the resistance all the way down and see how that feels. Then to keep turning it right until their legs can’t move. Now they know both ends and have a better idea how hard it can get I say:
“We will never be working at any of these points in the class. Ever.”
4. CLASS PROFILE
Be prepared with your profiles in January. Have enough variety to choose from. You don’t want the first timers to think the classes are boring just because they don’t yet understand the intensity and resistance, nor do you want them to leave with an impression they are not fit enough to come regularly.
At the same time you want to keep your classes challenging with your regulars in mind. Can it be done? Ideally there would be some introductory classes on the timetable but hey, we don’t live in a perfect world.
- beware of long endurance classes where 70% or more of your class is in the saddle – they can come across as boring to new people so make sure you choose some interesting tracks with clear beat
- power intervals – I would wait with these for a couple of weeks
- testing – yeah, wait…
- mixed workouts will work best: in and out of the saddle, speed & resistance variation
- long endurance tracks (around 7min) are great though giving enough time to settle into a pace and resistance
No, you will not please everyone but my advice would be to choose music with clear beat even if you have bikes with consoles showing RPM. Keeping an eye on the console and on you at the same time may be too much to ask. If you always teach with the beat they can keep an eye on you.
Choose your music wisely – get some instrumental track giving you space to explain stuff.
My warm up always have a flat fast track first to cue the form. Then there is a slow hill to cue the standing form. Don’t get into a standing run straight away.
The remaining 5 tips coming up next.