How (and WHY) to Educate Your Riders, Part 2: Your Students Appreciate You!

Tom posed the question of whether we should educate our riders or not. It was in response to an article on a competing website that suggested that the role of cycling instructors is less to educate and more to entertain and give the students what they want. The suggestion was that if you educated your students, they would be bored.

At ICA, we feel strongly that by teaching our students the reasons why we do what we do, they will be far more likely to instill fitness into their everyday lives than those who simply are “entertained” by a rah-rah instructor. By learning how their body adapts to training they will be more likely to eschew popular gimmicks and trends in favor of more evidence-based training.

The best part: they’ll love you in the long run because they will have more success!

Educating them does not mean the class will be boring. First of all, if your students are bored, maybe it’s because you are boring! Yes, I know that’s a strong statement, and I wrote an article about that a year ago. While your music and the way you put your classes together (your profile) has a huge impact on whether you keep your students’ attention, your delivery is one of the major components of keeping them engaged. You may simply need to learn how to deliver the education in a different way.

It all depends on how you do it. In the weeks ahead, we will have numerous articles with tips on how to educate your students. It may be by providing handouts, or with a newsletter that explains the more complicated aspects of physiology and training so you don’t need to turn your classes into a lecture. It may be by building your profiles around a simple educational objective, such as muscular endurance, and returning to the theme a couple of times throughout the class but reinforcing the message through every turn of the pedal.

An upcoming post will highlight the various ICA profiles that have education as an objective. In other words, the profile is built around improving an aspect of fitness or technique, while teaching the students about it in the process. But you’ll see from those profiles that they are the furthest thing from boring. This is achieved through effective and engaging coaching.

Another way to educate students is to slip in some information without them even realizing it. I call that “stealth education.” Tom Scotto and Christine Nielsen are experts at doing that, and will both be contributing articles on that topic.

We will start off with an article by Bill Roach called “How to Teach Without Being Teachy” that I know you’re going to enjoy.

Why do I feel it is so important to educate students? First, I’ve seen it with my own students, and have been thanked over and over again for helping them improve their understanding of how their body works and how they can improve their fitness. Five years ago I stopped teaching at one club in Vail, and numerous times since then when I’ve run into a former student, almost invariably he or she will say something like, “When are you coming back? I miss your classes because you always taught us something every single time!” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this.

In my position as a master instructor since 1997, I’ve heard from numerous other master instructors and instructors and have read on forums and Facebook discussions, how much their students have appreciated learning from them in their classes. This is why it is so mind boggling to me that a so-called “educational” website would tell instructors not to bother “boring” their students with education.

I want to share with you a few examples of Spinning® instructor friends on Facebook who recognize that their education of their students has made a big impact.

sara pomish appreciative student

Pru why education works

Chuck guaran compliment on ica education

Chuck Guaran winning over a student - FB post

Biggest compliment KIR

Lavanya to ICA on FB - great comment after class


ICA testimony importance of KIR


  1. Author

    You are welcome Chuck! I love reading your inspiring Facebook posts about your students and your experiences teaching – don’t ever think they go unnoticed! 😉

  2. Jennifer and Tom: Wow…I am honored that you used my posts! I look forward to seeing more from other instructors in 2014. So I challenge everyone to keep your rides real.

    Know what it is you are teaching, why you are teaching it, and make it fun and challenging at the same time. You are an instructor, and you are teaching a fitness/indoor cycling class. Think about that dynamic, your impact, and how you can affect change in your students.

    Know your craft, don’t be mediocre, and be a fitness professional.

    All the best for 2014!

  3. Author

    Changing the world 9 bikes at a time!! I love it! =)
    Here at ICA we feel we are changing our industry one instructor at a time, but that one instructor’s improvement is magnified because of the effect they have on their students.

    I love what Matt says in the Facebook post above, “People really do want this!” Sometimes they don’t KNOW they want it until they experience it (the education) and the benefits that go along with it….SUCCESS! They’re like, “wow, I LOVE being smarter about my own fitness!”

  4. I echo everything that was said in these comments, I get messages so often after class to say thank you that was an amazing class you are a great coach thank you for” keeping it real” !!! yes Jennifer that saying, I use a lot . And I see how it has taught them because they now know the diffrence betwwen right and wrong and unfortunately there is a lot of wrong out there. As you know I have 9 bikes in my home studio
    and on the one wall I have the words “CHANGING THE WORLD 9 BIKES AT A TIME ” hopefully I’m helping,
    I can’t thank you enough, Jennifer, Tom and Gene for the instructor that I have become. xxx

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