Are You Comfortable With Silence?

Ask yourself this question, and be as honest as possible: Do you talk too much when you are teaching your classes?

In the 20 years I’ve been training indoor cycling instructors, many have told me they feel uncomfortable with longer periods of silence. Often this unease comes from lack of confidence that newer instructors experience due to lack of time in front of a group of riders. Unfortunately, many certification programs do not delve into this subject very deeply.

But even some longtime instructors look out at the room and see their riders looking up to them with big eyes as if they are waiting to be told what to do next. They have an internal dialogue that might go something like this:


  1. I’m Glad i discovered this article! im a new instructor (since october) and worry i talk too little. i teach like how i ride as a participant. i want to know what to do next and focus on that.. if the instructor keeps talking i tune em out. i teach bodypump too an you are right though about that. the advanced instructor modules (havent been to one yet but will go soon) actually teach you to try to stop tlaking so much to make sure your coaching has a good impact on the participants.
    thanks for the reassurance!

  2. During pedal drills I will take the last minute or two for the participants to practice what I’ve been showing them. I’ll tell them “I’m going to do something that’s very hard for me, I’m going to stop talking and let you guys (folks, people)concentrate on keeping it smooth and round (thank you Jennifer for the cue. I always get a positive response and good efforts from the people.

  3. The best instructor I ever had was one who walked around once or twice during class to give encouragement or suggestions to each individual. I do the same, and after introducing myself (always new riders in a class), I remind them that the class is not my workout, it’s theirs. And to riders I know well, I can get off-mic as I walk around and urge them to increase their resistance a gear or two as I know they are capable of more power. I am happy to not yammer on and on or scream and yell, but instruct and trust.

  4. I must say it has been difficult but I am getting there – keeping the gob shut for longer every week, that is 🙂 Also using more cues at low voice, whispering. It really does make a difference. I would also like to thank you guys for teaching me that it’s OK to get off the bike when teaching. Some people are simply unaware of their bodies and if there are no mirrors in the studio they have no idea I am trying to coach THEM. But walking around gives you this opportunity. I used to think it would make me appear weak in their eyes – as in I should be the strongest rider all the way. But my students actually appreciate it. Thanks again

    1. Author

      Good for you Izabela! You are welcome. It sounds like you are becoming an empowering coach! Keep up the good work.

  5. Author

    Melinda, that is a wonderful way to top off the lesson of the beauty and joy of riding in silence. To be alone with your breath enhances the experience. Sometimes when I’m on a long climb on my mountain bike, listening to music, I’ll pull the earphones out for the final 5 -10 minutes, and just connect with my breath and the pedaling. While sometimes that symphonic music is awesome as you summit, the music of your body is even better!

    Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Riding in silence can be a memorable experience, too. I’ve turned off the music for the last 2 min of a difficult climb and asked students to embrace the effort; listen to their breathing and the sound of the bikes and dedicate themselves to reaching the top together. I cue at the final min, 30 sec, 15 sec and countdown the last 10 – short phrases, soft, encouraging words.
    It’s a moment people remember and comment about for a long time.

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