Ask The Expert: Does it Really Matter What I Wear When I Teach?

An ICA member asks about the importance of wearing cycling clothing when teaching. I’m so glad he asked, because I’ve been meaning to write an article about this. As instructors we have to be fully aware of the impression we are giving when we walk through those doors. Rightly or wrongly, people form opinions in the first second they meet you, so make sure it’s the impression you are looking to project (from your primary market at least)! An ICA member, I’ll call him Frank, asks about the importance of wearing cycling clothing when teaching. He took over a new class, and afterward a student asked if he could give him feedback. Frank said, “Of course.” The member then proceeded to criticize Frank for wearing gym pants and running shoes, and said that as an instructor “You have to wear cycling shoes and padded cycling shorts.” The student then said that many members will leave right away if they come to class and see that the instructor is not wearing proper cycling clothing.

Frank added the following:

I agree with that member, but at same time, I don’t feel it is necessary for me to have cycling shorts and shoes in order to teach a good class. I see many instructors fully clothed in cycling clothing who look like they are about to do the Tour de France, but they are clowns as they are doing the class! I find it unfortunate that I am being judged by not wearing cycling clothing. Also, I am not very comfortable wearing these tight cycling padded shorts to be honest with you. I am also trying to focus on other type of classes like Zumba and Groove so I am not only a cycling instructor exclusively.

Frank has a very good point. It IS very unfortunate to be judged unfairly. Frank could be an excellent instructor, but this student had made his character judgment before the class even started, and he let that get in the way of accepting the instructor, no matter how good or interesting the class might have been. Frank makes another good point that some of the other instructors who are “kitted out” in their cycling gear teach like clowns. Yes, it is true that the clothing does not make the instructor.


1 Comment

  1. Great article Jennifer!

    I totally agree with everything you are saying, especially about the shoes.

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