Indoor Cycling Masters’ Words of Wisdom for Instructors

The number of indoor cycling instructors around the world continues to grow. It is exciting! With the rise of new instructors on their quest to master their trade come the questions:

How does one do that?
I’m certified; now what about all these seemingly endless important details?

In our previous article, “Indoor Cycling Masters’ Words of Wisdom for Instructors,” we asked master instructors and educators one question:

“If you could tell a new instructor just one thing
to master, what would it be?”

The responses were brilliant. Instructors, both new and seasoned, enjoyed the sharing of this knowledge. So, back to the well we go! The same question was asked of more indoor cycling masters across many programs. Here are their answers:

Jennifer Sage, Founder and Master Instructor, Indoor Cycling Association. Former Master Instructor for Spinning®

In my 19 years as a master instructor, the biggest difference I’ve noticed between the really amazing instructors who empower their riders and change lives, and instructors who just maintain the status quo and go through the motions, is a willingness to continually challenge themselves to learn more. The saying “He who teaches, must never cease to learn” is so appropriate for fitness professionals. These instructors forego their ego; they ask questions, they seek mentors, they attend conferences, they read, they go to other instructors’ classes, they look for ways to grow at every turn. They realize they can never know it all, but that doesn’t stop them. They know that this knowledge will help them have a greater effect on their riders, and be able to inspire them even more than before.

That is my advice for you all—seek continual growth!

Josh Taylor, Spinning® Senior Advisor and Brand Ambassador, Spinning® International Master Instructor

One of the most important things you can do as an instructor is to “practice what you preach.” If you can come from a true place of experience and knowledge, your ability to lead by example will take your classes to another level. Not only will you benefit as an instructor when you take the time to train and practice all the aspects of what you teach, your students will also. They will see an instructor who is strong and leads with confidence and direction. Most of us come to teaching indoor cycling because we love to ride the bike or take classes to train. It’s so important to never lose that time you need for yourself to grow physically and mentally so you can always be the best version of you! Yes, it’s a lifestyle!

Luciana Marcial-Vincion, M.A. Spinning® Senior Advisor, Master Instructor/Global MI Team Manager, Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.
Owner, Charleston Ride, Charleston, NC

New instructors must devote time to mastering their vocal delivery. Designing solid profiles with great music is only part of coaching an excellent class. Ensure that your coaching language and cues are actually heard and received by focusing on articulating well, enunciating each word, speaking in a natural tone, and implementing peaks and valleys in projection to create more vocal interest. Don’t be afraid to slow down your vocal pace as well so that students understand every cue. Remember that the mic does not guarantee that your cues will be received clearly; it simply amplifies the volume of your voice. Make sure your vocal clarity, projection, and pace are skills you practice often for excellence in every class you teach.

Cameron Chinatti, Director of Education and Master Educator for Stages Indoor Cycling

If there is just one skill that you could master today that would immediately elevate your teaching abilities, it would have to be the anchoring of time and effort. In other words, rather than telling your participants how hard to work, tell them how hard to work and for how long. For example, rather than saying, “Give me an all-out effort!” say, “Can you give me an all-out effort for 30 seconds?” Keep in mind that talking about time requires that you monitor it closely. When you say 30 seconds, it better be an honest 30 seconds (lest you receive the death stare!).

Once you start providing this level of specificity, your participants learn to trust your intensity cueing. This leads to fewer “ghost turns” (faking the addition of resistance—yes, we’re all guilty!) and more honest, hard-working efforts.

Casey Stutzman, RealRyder Master Instructor

I believe that the one skill necessary to achieve mastery in anything is the ability to look outside your own world. For example, the best coaches/trainers in the world don’t just focus on exercises, anatomy, etc.; they look to outside experts in communication, skill acquisition, and presentation. They do so because they have learned that true greatness in coaching is not just understanding the material but also the skill to empower others with that information/knowledge.

When I think of the many thoughts or ideas that have been game-changers in my career, they more often than not did not come from the fitness industry but from other areas seemingly unconnected. Even from within I have found more gems about performance training from yoga, physical therapy, body workers, and Pilates than from other strength coaches. You never know where you are going to find “that thing” that propels you to the next level in your development, so the secret is be willing to look everywhere.

Caesar Russell, Wellbeats Lead Instructor

Remember…it’s your class! So often folks say “it’s their class” or “it’s their workout,” and let riders do whatever they want. No, it’s your class. You are their instructor and you are the leader in this group activity. You, the instructor, are the only rider carrying insurance to protect the safety of the other riders.

Be responsible for your riders’ safety during your class and make sure everything you instruct them to do (or not to do) is something that is proven safe and effective. Form trumps “moves” every time.

Your riders trust you and believe in you, so lead them well.

Chris Plourde, Master Instructor, Indoor Cycling Group

Master understanding your clients’ emotional needs. Take the time to REALLY get to know your clients—what do they like about your class? What do they not like? Where do they struggle? What is going on in their personal lives? I rely on the facts that I know about my clients to make my classes more relevant to them, to enhance connection, and to build relationship. Keeping an open line of communication is important not only for the success and gains of the clients but for the growth of YOU as a coach.

Shannon Fable, Schwinn Master Instructor. Director of Exercise Programming, Anytime Fitness, LLC

Another great piece of advice is to plan, plan, and plan some more. Although it may appear as if you’re just playing DJ and being a cheerleader over the microphone, make sure you plan a solid ride from a cardio perspective, and then fill in the story and music after! 

And this one from a longtime Spinning MI. It may be short, but her advice is spot-on!

Danielle Foster, Spinning® Master Instructor

Master how to coach RPE!

Those are the singular things these master trainers want you to know.

Many thanks to the instructors and educators for their words of wisdom. Please take them to heart and apply them to your classes. Your riders are counting on you. As we motivate and inspire, we must be sure to keep learning and growing.

Master the craft.

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  1. So glad to see the theme of instructing as a journey of learning experiences resonating in many of the quotes from these masters. It is a zen-like truth that takes a while to embrace after the initial certification experience.

  2. It’s great to hear these various points of view. What a wonderful idea for an article.

  3. Appreciate the time that went into putting this together – and I appreciate the specificity of the advice. Good stuff!

    1. Author

      thanks Bonnie. It’s tough to get all these Master Instructors to respond since they are all so incredibly busy! Caesar did a great job compiling all these wonderful jewels of advice. I love how each one is so different. It just turned out that way, since none of them knew what anyone else was submitting.

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