What are the characteristics of a coach? I ask this question in every Spinning® Instructor Training workshops I conduct. The responses are usually consistent and include such items as motivating, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, leads by example, good communicator and a list of other great qualities. The one response that generated the most amount of conversation was “In shape.” We pursued that topic a little more and the individual that felt that instructors had to be in shape clarified what exactly they meant by their statement. I have to say, I agree with him in his assessment.
To some “in shape” may mean that the instructor looks like they would be the perfect model of the next fitness magazine. They would have a body that reflects years of dedication to their training and diet. You could count the muscle fibers in their body and not need more than 10 fingers to indicate their percentage of body fat.
However, this conversation took an incredible turn. It wasn't about body image, it was about conditioning. What was meant by the participant’s comment of “in shape” was simply that the instructor must be able to ride the ride they are coaching. Who cares about body type if the individual can ride the bike with grace, power and stamina? This was such a thoughtful and beautiful way of looking at an instructor not based on their body type, but based on their ability.
In the fitness world, people are often judged based on their appearance and seldom get the chance to display their skills. An individual doesn't have to be a super model in order to conduct a class, but they better be able to ride what they expect from their class participants. So before you judge someone based on how they look, give them a chance and see how they coach. You may be surprised at how “in shape” they really are.