5 Mistakes New Indoor Cycling Instructors Can Avoid

Are you a new indoor cycling instructor?

If you’re still getting nervousness butterflies in your stomach every time you have to teach a class, this post is for you.

We were all newbies once (and some of us still are). There we were out of our instructor orientation/training thinking we were ready to go out there and rock the world of those indoor cyclists.

A few classes later we had more questions than answers, one above all:

Why didn’t they teach me this in instructor training?!

Well, because it is impossible to teach you everything in the time spent on instructor orientation training by major indoor cycling certification entities. Even if they spent more time on training, it would still be impossible to cover everything you need to know, to go over every possible scenario you will encounter in your class, every possible shade of crazy and weird you are going to see, and every possible question you are going to be asked.

You teach and learn.

But there’s something I thought I could do to help you out.

I asked my fellow indoor cycling and Spinning® instructors what were the mistakes they had made when they first started teaching, and what would they have changed if they could go back in time to when they first started.

new indoor cycling instructor

Here’s what they said.

{ONE} Profiling, profiling, profiling…

Jenny of House of Fit, has been teaching Spinning® for 11 years. Looking back at her own mistakes she made as a newbie, Jenny says:

When I began instructing 11 years ago, I underestimated the power of a quality profile. I managed my class around music and although I had a plan, it was mostly to leave my class sweaty. Now, even though music takes center stage, each class has specific goals to allow my class to grow as individual riders.

I personally found this transition from building profiles based solely on music to meaningful profiles with a PURPOSE very hard to make.  Class Builder App really helped with that one – being able to add information as cadence range, perceived exertion and cues makes you think of what all those things have to be rather than just go with the flow of music.

On the subject of building profiles, Chris (Chrispins) continues:

The biggest mistake I made when I first started teaching indoor cycling was holding on to the belief that I needed to change my music/profile for every single class. As a new instructor, I was excited and I really loved creating playlists and profiles, but now that I’m a bit more seasoned, I’ve learned that my students don’t mind the same profile/playlist repeated every once in a while. I’ve learned how to organize and file my playlists so I can easily use them over and over. With a few quick music changes, it’s a whole new class!

I know there are some instructors out there who will say that a new profile for every class is mandatory and goes without saying. Before they pitch in, let me say – come back here in 10 years and tell me you never re-used a single profile in your entire career 🙂 If you do and you don’t lie, I’ll send you flowers for you are AMAZING. 🙂

{TWO} Choose your resources wisely.

Rebecca who has been teaching indoor cycling for 17 months says:

I completed an online indoor cycling certification because an onsite certification was not offered locally at that time. The first few months as an instructor I was overwhelmed with the process of putting a class profile together. … To help me through this process I was grasping ideas from a website that was full of work from cycling instructors from across the nation. I would pick and choose songs and drills from hundreds of profiles to include in my classes. I found some great “new moves and drills” to make my classes fun and interesting. It wasn’t until a year later, when I had the opportunity to attend a live Spinning® certification class, did I realize what I had dipped into. The mistake that I made was I trusted those resources. I had no idea that most of those new movements and drills that I was discovering were contraindicated in indoor cycling. I am so thankful that I was able to talk about this with my Spinning® Master Instructor during my certification training and clean up my profiles. My advice to any new (or experienced) instructor is to stick to your training, find mentor instructors who have a similar certification (like your Master Instructor), and familiarize yourself with what the contraindicated indoor cycling movements are.

With the overwhelming amount of information on the web, being a new indoor cycling instructor and thus not quite having a “full picture” of the indoor cycling world in the beginning of our career we tend to trust the very first resource about indoor cycling that we find out there. Do your research, and do it very well. I really like Rebecca’s conclusion to this point:

My participants trust that I am offering them a safe cycling experience. I don’t have the right to compromise their safety.

Well said, Rebecca!

This actually leads me to the next common mistake…

{THREE} Stick to Your Guns.

Just because your facility does not restrict contraindicated movements in their indoor cycling classes doesn’t mean you have to do what everybody else is doing.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your principles and go against the flow. Be nice, polite and respectful – but stand strong for what you believe in.

Fads will come and go, but people will always ride the bike. So just ride that bike and don’t succumb to fads.

{FOUR} Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else.

That’s a difficult one. I think the general tendency is to copy your mentor’s style when you’re first starting. With me it was to the point where I adopted my Master Instructor’s addiction to Vibram Five Fingers 🙂 🙂 🙂 But jokes aside, here’s what Laura (The Centre, Adrian, MI) says about being yourself and how it changes you as an instructor.

In the beginning, I was pretty shy, reserved, and nervous. Over time, I became more confident and comfortable in my “skin” as an instructor. The more I relaxed and just was myself (goofy and all), the more people seemed to like me as an instructor and my class in general. I still learn from other instructors, but I guess I’m more OK with my style being my style…that I don’t have to be someone else, and that the class members really like the variety of styles at our facility.

{FIVE} Dress the Part.

Here’s what Megan says:

I think the biggest mistake I made is forgetting my shoes. I have trouble remembering all I need – batteries for microphone, cord to plug phone into the stereo, water, towel, phone with music, notes, shoes, etc. So, one day I was unpacking and setting up for class and realized I forgot my shoes. I was wearing flip flops. I didn’t have time to get home and back for class, so…I rode in my flip flops. I will never wear anything bur running shoes to and from class again.

A while ago I wrote this post about 5 things I don’t teach my indoor cycling or Spinning® class without. Guess what #5 is? 🙂 Yep, shoes.

But the point here is not just in being able to demonstrate properly (which is close to impossible in flip flops), but in something else. I see it every time – our students view us as an example. You will see people in your class turning to you for advice on more than just indoor cycling but fitness in general, nutrition, metabolism and what not. Remember my Vibrams obsession? 🙂 Guess what? You are gradually becoming that “idol” for your students who they will strive to be like – just like you idealize(d) your Master Instructor. For your students – you are the Master.

Dress the part.

So there you have it, guys – 5 mistakes you can avoid when just starting to teach Indoor Cycling/Spinning®.

There are many more to make, but if you can start avoiding them with these 5, you’re on the right way 🙂

I would like to thank all my wonderful contributors to this post. THANK YOU for sharing your experience and helping new indoor cycling instructors grow and learn!

Please, please share this post with your friends and fellow instructors:

Have a wonderful day, guys and ride on!

Lena

Need more ideas for your Spinning®/ Indoor Cycling Class? Check out my cycling class profiles and playlists.

I also have a whole page with resources just for new instructors!

Comments

  1. Great post Lena! You are such an amazing resource for new instructors. Wish this blog had been around when I first started teaching! 🙂 Cheers!
    CHris recently posted…2014: My Year In Review and Top SongsMy Profile

  2. Totally agree! I haven’t taught in a few years but most importantly I found I had to be myself and not try to change to make people like my class. Be yourself and they will come. Nice post
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…#No Excuses Mad Lib Fun with Sweat PinkMy Profile

  3. As a spin/cycle instructor for over 10 years now, I can agree with all of these! I finally realized that my class doesn’t get nearly as bored with my music as I do. I used to change it up for every single class and well, you know how that goes. I also truly believe in “walking the talk!” What you do outside the classroom can sometimes have more of an effect then what you do inside. Great post!
    ALlie recently posted…4 Alternate Uses for A #TrailHeads Headband (Giveaway!)My Profile

  4. Hi Lena,
    Although I am not an instructor but we have a team for indoor exercising, where we spin together. It’s really a worth reading your post and It will help us to avoid those mistakes. You are really doing great on your blog. Keep Going 😀

  5. I think it’s a mistake not to go riding on a real bike, to get a feeling for real riding technique, as well as because it’s just..good.

    • I agree with you, Tom 🙂

      • Louise forbes smith says:

        Hi Lena, I love what you have posted here. I have been teaching since 2013 but recently my class numbers have dwindled and it is a worry for me. I feel as if I am becoming stale or I am doing something wrong…. which is not good. I think I need some help with my class profiles. I tend to choose the music first (I try to vary my music to cater for all) and build the profile to the song. I have learnt though that this isn’t always a good thing and sometimes better to decide on the profile first then add the music after (I do find it takes me ages to find the right songs)! Anyway I am going to read the ‘how to build a profile to a class’ now and see if that helps and gives me some inspiration! Thank you. Louise.

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