UPDATED: April 1, 2022
How to Coach All Fitness Types Effectively During the Same Training Session
Many Spinning® instructors find that working with mixed fitness levels in one group exercise setting can be very challenging. Since people of all levels are now returning to the gym – some after a long hiatus or alteration to their normal fitness routines due to Covid – it’s smart for you to get up to speed on how to handle a variety of riding levels. With your commitment to finding what makes your students “tick” and discovering what their individual goals are, you can successfully train a group with varied fitness levels without getting frazzled.
Following are some typical riders and how each was coached in one class setting:
RIDER #1: New exerciser, 45-year-old-man. He’s excited about the social aspect of class now that the gym doors are open. Doesn’t really care about the “whys,” but wants to look like he knows what he’s doing. Doesn’t wear a heart rate monitor. Has not exercised for the last week.
Today’s Solution: Choose a versatile music lineup. Watch his form. Appeal to his desire to look competent on the bike by doing some off-the-bike coaching. Start sentences with, “I have something for you to try…” Loan him a heart rate monitor for a personal challenge.
Coaching Notes: He’s more difficult to please. You can correct his form, but lay off too much control over heart rate. Give him challenges like, “Let’s see if you can recover faster than so and so.” After class, ask how he likes the monitor. Tell him you are available if he wants to learn more about feeling his best.
RIDER #2: New exerciser that wants to get fit post-Covid. 55-year-old woman – not a natural athlete. Has a difficult time doing standing movements and Jumps. Wants to get fit/lose weight. She’s been riding for a few months with slow progress due to lack of confidence.
Today’s Solution: Compliment her for showing up to class. Ask how she’s feeling. Confirm that she should stop movements when she feels form slipping and regroup before resuming. Coach from the floor. Instill confidence with positive feedback.
RIDER #3: New to your class, 32-year-old male. Has been riding for over three years. Rides five days a week – including throughout the pandemic – at high heart rates with no knowledge of heart rate training. Last night he did 1,000 Jumps.
Today’s Solution: This personality type always wants the same thing – recognition of his cycling expertise and ability to push hard. Tell him you are pleased to have him in your class and take great interest in his experience and ability to ride virtually from home throughout Covid. Ask if he would like to borrow a heart rate monitor and put him through some work-to-rest intervals, noting speed of recovery.
Whatever he discovers from this exercise, he comes out a winner – getting the attention and recognition he craves. You will too because you succeeded in getting him to try heart rate training.
Perform an Interval Energy Zone® class. With some private coaching, everyone’s goals will be met. Start with a five-minute warmup and then begin with 20 minutes of aerobic intervals. The last 10 minutes of the intensity section, ask the appropriate people to take their heart rate up to anaerobic levels.
Coach everyone through the following performance-enhancing techniques: diaphragmatic breathing for maximum recovery potential, pedal stroke efficiency for best energy usage, heart rate manipulation through visualization and relaxation, and matching rate of perceived exertion with heart rate monitor readings.
Every ride requires pre-class time to find out the variables of each rider. Even if riders are there to just sweat and feel good, you need to approach everyone and converse with them. Find out what makes them tick. Find out what they need. Ask them what their interests are. Ask them what they did during previous training sessions.
The answers they give you are material you can use to make coaching decisions. If you give each person a sense of control and accountability in their fitness progress, they will do what they need to do, regardless of what the rider next to them is doing. This is the true essence of the Spinning® program.
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Spinning® Energy Zones: This online course provides an in-depth examination of training and instruction concepts for each Spinning Energy Zone®, written by five different authors with specialized expertise in their Energy Zone field. These five rides are the foundation of the Spinning program and the main reason why Spinning has achieved a higher level of sophistication than other group exercise programs that fail to recognize the importance of heart rate parameters and specificity of training. This course will also give you a thorough knowledge of how to present training sessions in each Energy Zone, and enable your students to experience the benefits of a well-rounded training system.