TBT: Balancing Unfit Newbies With Your Regular Riders, Part 2

Last week I answered a question posed by ICA member Bogna¬†about how to balance a new, unfit person (or two) walking into your class late, and how to balance their needs with the needs of the rest of your class. If you haven’t yet read that post, it would be worth your while to read it first. I gave three suggestions about how to minimize that happening in the future.

In this post, I want to address the question about how to divide your attention between your regular riders and a new rider who obviously is in need of a lot of attention. This can happen even if they arrive early or on time to class.


  1. I run two 45 minute beginners’ classes and I have had people that are so out of shape they have collapsed on the bike when they try to stand. It took two of us to extract one rider.

    I like the idea of standing next to the new rider (or rider in trouble) giving comfort and guidance.
    I start the new sessions in the New Year (with the New Year’s resolutions) so I will have an opportunity to use this.


  2. I am always available for students and if there is no class before mine I am in the studio for at least 20min prior to start. I offer help as people file in and then go through set up from my bike about 5min before. If I suspect there are fist timers who didn’t take up my offer of help I say: if you are new just enjoy the music. When we stand up try but if it doesn’t feel right and you feel out of control stay in the saddle.

    Now there is a difference between a new person who needs help and comes nice and early and a needy person who comes in late and as you start a class they start talking loudly saying: I don’t know what this part is for?…

    Anyway, the only times I may start 1min late is because I am setting up newbies. People know I had been in the studio for 20min but I won’t leave first timers to their own devices. I don’t explain what I am doing by that point just set them up saying: please talk to me after the class about the set up.

    I teach off the bike quite a bit especially if the studio is massive and I want to see people or if the set up doesn’t allow me to see everyone. Or if there are a few first timers. As in the article, I give a cue for the group, then switch the mike off and give 121. Every so often I speak to the whole group reinforcing the focus.

    I still walk around giving a bit of 121 to everyone.

    I have never had anyone as unfit as Maria but I have had people who were ignoring my advice. As soon as I see that, especially if it is paired up with a bad attitude – I back off. If I get a chance I have a chat with these guys after the class but more often than not they run off as soon as we start cooling down.

    In the cool down I give feedback to the whole group: the good and the bad. Then I say I will be available after the class and if it was their first time I can give them a card with the bike set up numbers they can take with them so they feel more confident next time. I always have my business cards and total beginners’ handouts with me.

    It’s a tricky balancing act but people appreciate the fact that you care. Someone said to me that another instructor when asked for help before the class says: I will be with you in a moment just need to set myself up – but then never follows through and leaves people to fend for themselves. And she actually appreciates that I spend that extra time discussing injuries, giving options etc.

    I also found another thing that works: if I do longer tracks with endurance or speed work like 6-8min when you have to hold the effort and I can see people who are struggling I go over and say off mike: I have a challenge for you: go faster/harder for the next 30sec, then back off for 30. And on again. I stay with them for one round. This makes it manageable for them, they still feel a part of the class and saying this just to them doesn’t put them on the spot.

    This is the only way of getting the less fit people who find spin classes intimidating – in.

    1. Author

      This is such great advice Izabela! thanks for posting it. I might turn it into a full article on its own! I’ll be in touch…

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