Spinning® Instructor Rachel Healy shares tips that will take you from a newly certified instructor to ultra-confident coach in less time than you think.
After completing the Spinning® Instructor Certification and passing the Spinning® Instructor Exam, I was faced with one question; “what now?” The following are things that I’ve learned as I made the transition from a recently certified Spinning® instructor to a full-time coach with a class packed full of students.
Offer to Substitute
The first thought that entered my mind after I became certified was, ''This is a great first step, but who is going to hire me without experience?" I decided to go to a local university and ask if they could use any substitute instructors during their slower, summer season. Luckily, there was a need and after interviewing with the Fitness Director and performing a Spinning® demo, I was hired.
Other new instructors get their foot in the door by co-teaching or interning with an experienced instructor. Start by observing and begin teaching a few songs once you grow more comfortable. With co-teaching, you also put yourself in front of students and may attract some new fans. As time goes on, you are ready to teach a complete class by yourself.
Find a Mentor
Experienced instructors are a valuable resource for those who are just starting out. I became acquainted with a Level 3 Spinning® instructor who has been teaching for over 10 years, and she answered many of my questions and addressed the concerns I had about teaching my own class. She was able to recount her own experiences as a new instructor, including the obstacles she faced and what she learned along the way. Most importantly, she sat in on my first class and gave me some useful pointers about my presentation.
Always Be Prepared
If you offer to substitute, you may not know when you will be called on to fill in for another instructor. So always come prepared with a profile and playlist ready. When creating your profile, imagine yourself conducting the class. If possible, familiarize yourself with the studio or indoor cycling room before your class. Get acquainted with the layout and the bikes and make sure you can work the sound system. Try to arrive 15 minutes early. Greet each student, introduce yourself, and be sure to ask them what their goals or expectations are for the class. As we learned in Spinning® Instructor Certification, this will help ensure a safe and welcoming environment. I also noticed that making conversation with the students helped diffuse some of my "new instructor jitters."
Lead by Example
In the beginning of a recent class, all of my students appeared energized and ready to rock on their Spinner® bikes. But just as we were entering our final efforts, I noticed that some of that excitement has dissipated. My students’ shoulders had sagged and their cadence had slowed.
"What am I doing wrong?" I wondered. "They seemed so motivated just a few minutes ago."
Suddenly, I realized that my shoulders were slumping, and my cadence decreasing. I was tired from a tough workout the day prior. The moment I became aware of this, I snapped to attention. I refocused on exhibiting proper form and charged into my second wind. Amazingly, the students followed suit. In Spinning® Instructor Certification, I remember learning that the students will often mimic the instructor, but I never fully understood to what extent until that moment.
Remember that You're Still Learning
Now more than ever, I participate in Spinning® classes and pay attention to the instructor's technique. I take a mental note of the elements I like and want to use when leading my next class. Sometimes, when I'm being led by a particularly dynamic instructor, I think, "I'll never be this good!" But then I think about something that Vince Lombardi said: "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
As a result, I make a commitment to continuously improve as an instructor. I do this by reading the Spinning® Instructor Manual and using the instructor resources on Spinning.com, like SPIN® Membership, the Spin® Life blog, training tips and more. I have also completed the SPINPower® Certification and the Rockstar Certification to apply the latest and greatest strategies for training students. I am constantly refreshing my Spinning® knowledge and looking for information to make my classes better. I am not the best I can be right now, but I am on my way!
Written by Rachel Healy and first published in October 2005.