Whether you're a cyclist who conducts Spinning® classes or a Spinning® instructor who cycles, you have one amazing resource available to you for inspiration: The road.
I used to be in the camp of "you don't have to be a cyclist to be a good instructor" and "being a cyclist doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a good instructor..." but I have to say - the more I do both, the more inspired I feel - in a different sort of way.
One thing I have noticed in both my teaching of Spinning® and my road cycling is that I cannot ever (and I mean ever!) predict the outcome of my session based on how I feel going into either. And I think there are important lessons to be learned here....
Take yesterday, for example. In 4 weeks I am going to do a bike race and I have a dream of climbing onto the podium, so I set out yesterday to ride with my road-buds. We meet at 5:30am, but for me, as I live far away from them, I leave my house at 5am...which means I am awake at 4:30 and riding in the dark. This is not easy - but it is necessary. Yesterday I was groggy as I set out and had my internal monitor saying "turn around and go back to bed, you fool..." for my first 30 minutes prior to meeting them. But at 5:30, they were pumped and we were trying new drafting agreements between us and I felt the buzz...so off we set.
We ride (in Cambodia) down National Road 1, which takes you to the ferry toward Vietnam. I absolutely LOVE this place...so beautiful - so very different each and every time we ride it. In total it is about a 135km ride for me - and my race is 100, so that is good training.
Dogged, recently, with mechanical issues, I paid for premium professional service and I was pretty sure my bike was in good order : I soooooo hoped I wouldn't get a flat (which I didn't) because I find flat tires demoralizing. You too, or is it just me? When I get a flat - and yes! I know how to change the tire and carry my equipment and spares with me - I just feel like a spoiled kid, in a tantrum - moaning and crying and stomping. Frustrating. But good to go on this fresh, cloudless morning.
So, the experience of drafting is amazing - the team work and concentration required is exhilerating. I feel like a super hero flying down the road and despite my grouchy start earlier, when I took the lead, I was simply on fire. (I'm not tooting my own horn in front of you true athletes...I'm just a nearly 50 year old housewife, really...so for me to feel strong enough to do 100k at 34k/hour...and push up to 36...yah - I have no problem saying I'm really chuffed with that in my own performance.)
Arriving at the Ferry some 70k later, we stopped for a coconut (it's what you do where there is no coffee shop) and grab some food, planning our return trip. Now, heading into our second half having experienced a complete about face in my attitude and physical strength, I'm thinking "yah, I've got this....we're going to rock it all the way back."
I couldn't have been more wrong. Right after we set out a mini-van making that treck from VietNam to Phnom Penh passed and someone pitched out a bunch of garbage out the window. Un-thinkable in the US and your experience, no? Totally believable here - but what was shocking was that a small plastic water bottle (500ml?) hit me in the face. my sunglasses cut my cheek - but more than that I was shocked. I held it together and did not crash, but instantly fell behind the others.
Devastated. There is no other word for how I felt. I was angry, I was scared, I was reeling from the shock - trying to see if my face was bleeding, navigating the other traffic and all the while, my friends, unaware of what happened to me, got smaller and smaller into the distance.
The choices...the choices. Do I stop and investigate my injury? Should I just suck it up and go on? Do I limp home or try to catch up? I decided that there was time to investigate my face later and I had the opportunity to be a bad ass just then, so I rode as hard as I could to catch up. The back half of a longish ride - maybe not the smartest thing to go all out, but I was suddenly motivated to not be left behind.
The rest of the ride home was the hardest (despite being pumped at our resting half way point) I have ever ridden - mentally and physically. I decided to just experience my burning lungs, my burning legs and my burning fury at the carelessness of others. I actually felt pissed off - and I NEVER feel that way.
Some 24 hours later - I'm still digesting my experience, but I am sure this will end up in my coaching. Before, without the advantage of feeling set backs, devastation, mechanical issues, having to catch up, gut wrenching effort to just stay up with the pack...I would have just used words like "digging deep" and that...but now I have a context for it which I am supposing will make my coaching (that empathy that helps participants grow as they face their own personal challenges in their Spinning® journey.)
Coaching is so much beyond the mechanical counting of intervals. You have experiences on your bike that you can draw from on perserverance, dedication, exploration, etc... conveying this as you ask retorical questions and pose circumstancial settings in your class goes a long way toward inspiring your participants stretch themselves, because they believe it matters to you.