By Stephanie GuilfoyleA major perk of having a career in fitness is its portability. It’s reassuring and refreshing to be able to teach no matter where we live. Fortunately, many instructors are able to work in the same gym for prolonged periods of time and do not have to worry about starting over at a new facility. The downside to working in the same gym is the need to battle complacency in our class design and coaching once we fall into a rhythm of teaching. Do not become too comfortable in your coaching, we are obligated to consistently deliver meaningful classes or training sessions to our members.As a Certified Spinning® Instructor who has moved many times and taught in gyms on both coasts, I experienced the frustration of starting over, building a class and fitting into a new environment where my style was not familiar. The following tips may be helpful for your classes, as well as for any instructor who is new to teaching or new to a facility.
- Research your options. Find all the gyms within a certain radius where you’d be willing to commute. Are any of them official Spinning® facilities? If not, make a trip to each gym for a visitor’s pass and take some classes. Which one feels like a good fit? Introduce yourself to the manager or owner when possible and let them know you are a Certified Spinning Instructor interested in working at the club. Perhaps give them a compliment on something you liked about the studio, instructor or gym. Have a resume or CV ready to give to them.
- Feel out the gym. Once you have the job, attend as many Spinning or indoor cycling classes as possible to get a feel for what the members are used to and gauge the gym culture. What is the demographic? Are riders able to set up their bikes correctly? Become familiar with the room setup and how to use the stereo before you teach. Introduce yourself to the other instructors when taking their classes.
- Trust Your Training. Prepare ahead of time and trust the training you’ve received. The Spinning program is a safe and effective program when used as it is designed. It’s imperative to be yourself and offer a class based on your personality and teaching style. Refer to the Spinning Instructor Manual if necessary to refresh your memory:
- Class design: Write the profile and then add in the music, keeping it simple at first. Do not fall into the trap of throwing a bunch of music together at the last minute and winging the class.
- The Spinning Energy Zones™: Remember the heart rate and cadence parameters. Many gyms won’t offer classes based on all of the Energy Zones so provide a variety when you start teaching.
- Leave out the contraindicated movements: They provide absolutely no fitness benefits to your ride anyway.
- Show Confidence Even If You Don’t Feel It. As a new instructor, nerves are often present in front of a class of eager riders. Everyone in the room started as a beginner at some point, even the best, most seasoned instructor. Rely on the profile, and cue to the members on what they should feel at certain points during class. Smile and provide a tip or two that relates to the class goal. This provides the “why” to the riders and reinforces your knowledge.
- Build Rapport. Learn your riders’ names first and foremost! It’s hard to do, but it will pay off in the long run. It makes your riders feel important and more willing to become a class regular. You can walk around before class begins to personally say hello and engage with each member. If the class size is too large, make a point to say hello to those you don’t know and talk to some others after class. Be available by standing near the door, thanking everyone as they leave. Be careful not to turn your back to the class once the music stops to make notes or sign the roster. Lastly, build rapport by being genuine and showing your personality. It is easier to feel intimidated at first and even easier to sink into the shoes of the instructor whose style packs the room. Be yourself! You’ll gain your own following and they’ll appreciate you for you.