The Coach: The Rider—Receptive and Coachable

So far in the Coaching Series, we have looked at the concept of coaching in an indoor cycling class and we’ve examined ways to shift from being a technically adequate instructor toward being a more intuitive and inspirational coach. Now we look at the rider, who is, in a rider-centered environment, the single most important aspect of the class.

First, it is important to distinguish this notion of rider-centered coaching from the concept of simple customer service. Crucial to driving a successful indoor cycling business, good customer service leads to repeat business, which fuels ongoing patronage. In an authentic coaching relationship, however, where the client, or rider, is regarded as the center of focus, the needs of the business are met because the needs of the clients are met, not the other way around. In theory this seems obvious, but the state of indoor cycling is being strenuously tested because of a confusion of this premise.


  1. I have had issues with riders wearing the own earphones and I got off my bike, turned off my microphone and walked over to them and asked them to remove them. I told them that if they would like to stay in class they cannot ride with the earphones. They ultimately removed them and remained in class. I have also had a member have their cell phone resting on their handlebars and again I dismounted my bike and told them to place it on the floor since I didn’t want them to drop it, that it is not safe and the effectiveness of the ride will be compromised by having it on the bars. She did comply but was not happy about it.

  2. Unfortunately, at my international chain club the membership sales guys tell new members that they can join an under way class at any time. This means new members walk in a half-hour after my class begins, or enter and ride with their own iPods. I’ve had loud disagreements with the sales guys. New members who enter late distract me and everyone else. If they hesitate at the door, I shake my head “no”, as in, you may not join us now. If I can’t catch them in time, I always get off my bike and help them set up while simultaneously cueing and coaching riders who arrived on time. But this does disrupt the flow for everyone else. For those with their own music, I kick them out if they are unwilling to join the class, for which I have carefully prepared. There is no way I can get this chain’s support for making sure new members are informed that they must arrive when class begins, not half-way through. I do welcome regulars who occasionally arrive 15 minutes late as my classes are at 5:30PM and many of them cannot find parking, the subway is slow, etc. I’ve considered posting a sign on the studio door, but it’s not really my status to do so. This would set the membership sales guys into a frenzy.

    I would appreciate it if ICA would tackle these late arrival, own music issues with suggestions on how to tactfully [I’m not very tactful!] inform late arrivals and those with iPods in their ears that they need to get with the program or come another time. But really, when you instruct at one of these big chains, the club culture is pretty much “drive through,” where members drag their coats and bags around from class to class, no appropriate attire. Are other ICA members also dealing with this??

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