For Instructors

where there is no mentor?

I know I was really fortunate enough to be among other Spinning® instructors for those little "by the way..." conversations and as I talk to people here about doing an orientation some time in the fall, I am committed to helping them spread their wings, gracefully, so I was thinking about how instructors become the package deal. Look, no one expects you to be perfect...and all of us continue to just get better with time and experience...and I'll even share openly about ways that I struggle because I would hate for you to think I'm perfect. I'm not. But one thing that might help an instructor grow is to be methodical about their focus. Before I start I would like to say that you can't and shouldn't ignore big things - like pedaling backwards, or standing wtih no hands and all that - so this isn't to override your obvious good sense about this stuff. But how about this: If you are a new instructor, or mentoring a new instructor, what if you take out a calendar and divide it into week 1, 2, 3 and 4, where week 1 will be, say, legs/feet, week two will be upper body/arms/posture, week three will concentrate on breath/heart rate and week four maybe head space. So these things aren't specific to the profile you teach, they apply to whatever profile / energy zone you're doing. This 4 week approach helps you focus on technique, style, approach. So, whatever class profile you're teaching, you have a certain "hot spot" you're targeting. (remember, major big offenses are all fair game...deal with them too!) But say it is week one and you have an endurance class lined up. Your focus is legs/feet....let's say this week you're specifically keyed into feet. Your focus is on things like "are their feet hitting the pedal at the right place because of a good setting on the bike - ball of foot over pedal spindle, not necessarily jammed in against the tip of the toe cage. You're looking to see that toes are forward and not either pigeon toed or duck feet - though you have to keep in mind that some people do track this way and your suggestions for correction could do more harm than good if you try to force an unnatural change to happen in one day - sometimes just bringing awareness to the feet is enough. Do they invert (pressure on arch of foot) or evert (pressure on outside of foot) - do they drop their heels, pedal toes pointed, etc etc. So you're teaching the same class next week and now it is week two, it happens to be a strength class and you're giving focus to the upper body - yes - I repeat major offenses get dealt with...but now you get to be nit picky about things like hand position 2.5 and white knuckles and splayed elbows and collapsing shoulders/chest. . . or whatever it is you're focusing on. Week 3 rolls around and this time you're looking at heart rate and breath - too bad if they don't have a HR monitor, but whatever...maybe it is an interval class and you're having your non-HRM people ride in the upper effort level so they are aware of their heart pounding in their chest, and then pulling back so that sensation drops out. (I'm just thinking on the spot here....I might give more consideration to this....) or riding you "on interval" so that you can't ride with your lips sealed, then pulling back to where you can comfortably with your lips sealed. Then week four we have "head space..." and no matter what type of class you're delivering, you, as the coach, have put ample time in to thinking about how your clients can find their "zone..." change their attitude, grapple with challenge, etc etc etc. Back to week one again and you're back to legs and feet - last time it was an endurance class when you had this specific focus - this time you're coaching for legs and feet and it happens to be an interval class....your focus might by the transition between seated and standing, whether in jumps or simply changing position. At first, this might feel tedious, but in terms of you becoming a well rounded instructor over time, you'll really benefit from not just responding to the biggies that smack you in the face - like riding unclipped or backwards or, draping on the handle bars...but you'll start to get really tuned into the little nuances that people present and you'll get better at figuring out how to cue people into better form.
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