Hey, Where Are You Going?!

Did you ever have someone walk out of your class after the first song or shortly after the class started? Not only can this be a distraction to your riders, it can be unnerving. We can start to ask questions of ourselves. “Am I off my game today?” “Did I just say something insulting?” “Does this person not like how I teach?” It can take a lot of mental strength and confidence to keep from losing our focus.


  1. This can go both ways, as I have learned over the last several months, and it has taught me a valuable lesson about being professional and part of a team. I have had multiple people approach me about not liking another instructor’s style (which is hard for me to defend since there is a huge amount of CI moves in every single class this instructor teaches). I have learned to reply with this: “Every instructor has their own style. I’m sure there are people here who don’t care for my style, and that is ok. Just know that you have the right to not do certain moves in his class if you find them unnatural, uncomfortable or if they cause you pain. That goes for my class as well.”

    If they persist, I simply educate them on why their low back hurts after attempting a 3 minute hover (not even joking) or why their knees hurt from grinding away at 45-50 RPM, without saying anything about the other instructor. But boy is it hard sometimes not to slip up about why on earth anyone certified would do those things in a class! (For the record, I am now referring all such complaints to gym management and they are putting guidelines in place that will prohibit CI moves! Big win for keeping it real after 18 months of banging my head against a wall!!)

    1. Kudos to you Deanne. It is always a tough and tempting situation to be confronted with the teaching faux pas’ of other instructors at our club. From my experience, members are not shy about talking about other instructors either. It is one thing when the issue is style and another when it is poor teaching skills. Particular teaching that puts riders at risk. Continue to let your professionalism shine!

  2. I have to agree with the ‘there are all varieties’, and there are class participants who do not like my style of teaching and if I happen to be the sub, they have the option to stay or leave – I’m OK with that.

    What I have found interesting is that some roadies won’t take my class because I am not a proponent of the aero style and do include that in my opening lines of class, giving a succinct explanation. My mind always goes to the ‘you don’t do this outside, why do you want to so this inside?’

    1. Basia, interesting comment about the aero position. Most real roadies (or should I say competitive riders and triathletes), understand the difference and issues with trying to simulate that aero position on an indoor bike. You may be destroying their fantasies about winning the time trial in the Tour de France. There are also some triathletes who will only live on their aero bars when riding outdoors. They believe this is the only efficient position. Since most indoor bike handlebars resemble those found on a tri bike, they may feel the aero position is the only appropriate place to ride. I have found through my years as a coach and bike fitter, that roadies and triathletes can be a peculiar bunch and very sensitive about position and how they look on a bike. For a super fun article on the quirkiness of road cyclists, check out – http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/page/latest-news/?id=89365#.Ugk02lOE7AI


  3. I think it is just not to think I am the only one that goes through these situations and I concur you cannot make it about you!

  4. While it is a well known fact we cannot please everyone such experiences do give us pause.

    A little fretting every now and then about our delivery, music, ride profiles and how seriously we are taking ourselves, is a good thing.

    1. I would expect nothing less from you. Thanks Chuck.

  5. I like Joan’s ice cream analogy. I have never had someone walk out but I used to fret about people who didn’t come back. I finally settled on the same explanation as Joan and developed the phrase “I am an acquired taste.” to explain to myself and others. I notice that when I use that phrase around people who are genuinely committed to me and my teaching methods and/or music they giggle nervously. That tells me there’s truth in my words.

  6. Author

    Early on in my career teaching cycling classes, I had someone run into class just a little bit late. There was one bike left at the far side of the room, in the front row, so she had to cross in front of everyone. I had just described to everyone that we were doing a “race day” class and gave the requisite options for not going as hard if they didn’t want to. I acknowledged the newcomer and suggested she continuing warming up a little longer if she needed to. This club is attached to a destination hotel in the ski area I live in, so in winter season, if we didn’t recognize the person in class, they were often hotel guests, and also often from a lot lower elevation.

    Not more than four minutes after walking in late, she got off the bike and began collecting her things. I got off and walked over to her, covered my microphone and asked if everything was OK. This was her response: “I would rather have my eyelids super glued shut than listen to techno!”

    OK…I understand there are differing music tastes, but she had only heard one song. (And mind you, it wasn’t “techno” per se, though it was an electronic song suitable for a warmup to a high intensity ride, but I also understand some people, especially back then, lump anything that sounds electronic as “techno”). To be honest, what I wanted to say was “I think they have some superglue at the front desk” but I didn’t! I said, “oh, I’m sorry. I do have a variety of music planned, but during the race portion which starts in about 20 minutes it is all high energy music to help push the pace.” Without a word she walked out, crossing back in front of everyone.

    I didn’t take it personally, but it did give me pause to reflect. My students laughed and said, “her loss!”

    So, like Joan says, chocolate? vanilla? Cherry Garcia? It might be you, it might be your music. Or it might be they’re having a bad day.

  7. I equate it to Ice Cream….it is why they make chocolate and vanilla….et al…I am not for everyone despite my best efforts….this applies in many facets of life…I do not take it personally…I always just say, Thanks you for coming! I assume it was something they ate!

    1. Haha…I love it. Although I have a hard time disliking any flavor of ice cream. 🙂

  8. I find it a good policy to assume that it’s not about me. Who knows what is going on in a person’s day? Maybe they’re just not “feeling it?” Maybe they DON’T like my teaching style – but that’s okay, too! That’s probably not about ME, either, but rather about their own preferences. It takes practice to think this way, but once you get in the habit, it feels a heck of a lot better than taking things too personally…
    Good for you for asking the question, though. She learned something important by staying and giving you a chance.

    1. Tracy, you have the right mindset. This is the professional approach and the logical one.

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