Whether you are a brand new, recently certified instructor or you have a few years under your belt, developing your style as a cycling instructor is an important component of what you do at the front of your studio. Two of the most important characteristics in developing your coaching style is knowledge of your sport/activity and motivation/inspiration.
Good indoor cycling instructors are always seeking to increase their knowledge. There is no substitute for knowing the science and technical skills behind what you do. Instructors can improve this aspect of their coaching by reading books, attending conferences and workshops, and by joining an organization such as the Indoor Cycling Association.
You can have all the skills and knowledge in the world about your sport/activity, however this doesn’t mean much if you cannot impart that knowledge in a meaningful way or if you fail to motivate and inspire your students to go beyond their self-perceived limitations. Barking out orders in a boot camp manner is certainly one style of teaching, but moving beyond this harsh method will impact a far greater number of students. When you coach from a place of compassion and empathy, your students will achieve greater success in accomplishing their fitness goals. Additionally, the mental strength that you have taught them extends beyond the cycling studio walls. They can take what they learned about commitment and focus in your classes and apply it to other areas of their life, whereas boot camp–style commands do not effectively translate to personal growth.
This two-part series on developing your style will focus on how to become a more empathic and inspirational coach. The good news is that since you are an ICA member, you already have the keys to increasing your knowledge of cycling science, technique, and the practical aspects of being a good indoor cycling coach. This series will focus on the more mental and inspirational side of coaching and how to overcome the fear of being the empowering mentor you aspire to be.
Yes, it can be scary.
Personally, I don’t think instructors have the right to call themselves a “coach” until they have gone through the steps that will be laid out in this series.