By Steve Unger, Certified Spinning® InstructorYou’ve got your Spinning® certification and can’t wait to coach, motivate and inspire a room full of eager riders. But what happens when the room’s not full? Spinning Instructor Steve Unger shares his thoughts on making small classes an amazing experience for students and instructors.I earned my Spinning Instructor certification just a few months ago, so I consider myself a novice instructor. After the Spinning Instructor Training, I started teaching at the local YMCA, which offers plenty of Spinning classes, but has only 11 Spinner® bikes. Because of this, class sizes are small. But in three months I’ve taught about 30 classes and feel that I’m making steady progress as an instructor. I’ve also discovered that an instructor has the opportunity to learn something from every class—no matter how many students attend.Given our limited number of bikes, a class with more than five participants is considered good-sized—and it’s common to have only two or three students per class, especially in the summer months. Rather than getting discouraged when attendance is low, I look at teaching as a positive experience regardless of how many students show up for class. I’ve come to appreciate the unique benefits that small classes offer my students and have found them to be invaluable on my road toward becoming a better instructor.When class size is smaller than you’d like, the most important thing to remember is that those riders who do show up are still expecting a great workout—and it’s our job as instructors to give them one. When class size is small, your energy, enthusiasm and dedication should be just as high as it is when the room is full.Small classes are also a great opportunity to build relationships with your students, and doing so will prompt them to tell others about your class. However, you may want to make some adjustments to your teaching style. Here are some tips for making your smaller classes beneficial for you and your students.
- Arrange the bikes in a circle. This formation creates a warm and welcoming vibe.
- While some students prefer small classes because of the personal attention they get, others may be intimidated by the inability to hide in the back corner. Assuage their concerns by engaging in some friendly conversation at the beginning of class.
- Ask students to share music suggestions, and do your best to accommodate them.
- Ask your students about their fitness goals and design a ride that takes them into consideration. Doing so is likely to exceed your students’ expectations, increase their satisfaction and motivate them to return to class and tell others about your class as well.
- Learn your students’ names, which shouldn’t be too hard in a small-class setting. By making them feel important and building a sense of community within the class you’ll create loyal regulars.
- You’re more likely to receive feedback from students in a small group setting, so be sure to ask for it! Doing so will help you become a better instructor.
- Most importantly, if only a handful of students show up, relax!