As I was signing in at the reception before my Friday lunchtime class, the group exercise manager who was covering reception said to me: “You know, I am thinking of coming to your class. If I do though, it’s probably only going to be 20min because my break is short but I will sit next to the door so I can sneak out.” Management watch alert!
And she made it in. As per the plan we did a warm up, a couple of preparation songs and went into a 20 minute climb. Both standing and sitting but no breaks as such. RPE 7-8 even a bit of 9 at the end of the 4th song. It was a tough class mentally since people had to push themselves for a long period of time with no gimmicks – just in and out of the saddle.
I love leaving people to find their own motivation. I have read this phrase on Cuez that you use before a long climb: “You now have 7 minutes uphill. Stay in the saddle as much as you can but if you need a break stand up. Now our roads split here. You are going right and I am going left. I will come to check up on you half way through but then I will see you at the top!” Then I take off my mike and walk around giving people 121 attention when needed. Or even just thumbs up if they are doing a cracking job.
I know some instructors or even gym managers say: you can’t leave the group to its own devices. People get their motivation from looking at the instructor. They will get lost.
OK, but I am not leaving the room. I walk around it. Before I do, I give clear instructions so people know what speed to keep, they have heard me talk about posture and pedal strokes about 10 times by then. It’s just sitting in the saddle, pedalling. I don’t expect them to do discover a new position.
They also get 121 attention without anyone else hearing what I say to them. Sometimes I just tap their shoulders and they immediately relax them, I make a pedal stroke movement with my foot and they correct their foot position.
What is equally important is that those few minutes of just music and beat without my voice is very much appreciated by those who want to get in the zone. And it’s not easy not to talk. I leant that unless I leave my mike behind, I can’t resist the temptation.
I believe it’s important to enable people, teach them the intrinsic motivation so they don’t need you to talk to them throughout the 45minutes.
This 121 time allows you to give people personal feedback at the end of the class too.
I have learnt that if you leave the group with the right message it works like a charm: “You know how long it’s going to be. You know it will be tough. It’s getting personal now – just you and your bike. You and that little voice in your head telling you that you can’t do it. Prove it to yourself! Are you up a hill? Really? If you are not pushing your limits this will be the longest and most boring 7 minutes of your life. Embrace the discomfort.”
I had a new guy come to me after today’s class to thank me for a great challenge and the manager, who actually stayed until the end , came up to me saying those magic words that I appreciate so much: “That was a great class. It was proper cycling. I loved it!”
So you see, attention to technique or making people do “same” thing for 20minutes at a time doesn’t have to be boring. It took me 12 months to build up this class from 2-3 participants to a waiting list but I did it just by making them cycle. And they do get it.