Indoor Cycling Masters’ Words of Wisdom For Instructors

Are indoor cycling master instructors (MIs) mythical figures like Wizards of Oz or the Jedi Order? Who are these fountains of knowledge and inspiration? We seek them out, determined to become better indoor cycling instructors. “Please, master instructor, share your knowledge and wisdom!”

If you are a certified instructor, then you have met a master instructor—that’s who certified you. Master instructors (also known as master educators or master trainers) are the trainers of the trainers and often come with many years of experience in the craft and more in-depth education in physiology, cycling, and coaching.

We wanted to dig up the best advice we could find from a handful of these experts that bring balance to the indoor cycling galaxy. Now, you will not have to climb a mountain to ask the wise one a question!

This was the question I asked them:

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

Everyone I asked was eager to help and share their knowledge and wisdom. In fact, we got so many great responses, we will divide it into two separate posts.

Here is what the first group of masters said:

Pam Benchley, Master Educator for Stages Indoor Cycling, Buffalo, NY.

Master the art of how you present the experience of an indoor cycling class. Are you welcoming? Does your music encourage a fun environment? Do your look and demeanor encourage a newbie to walk into that dark boom-boom space and trust you with their life? Disarm those “front-row-frowners” (who we all know secretly want your job, or at least think it’s “easy”) with a big smile and tons of positive energy. Make them feel important by helping the new participants. This is all part of creating a space where people want to come and get fit and have fun. It’s easy to preach to the choir. It’s another to speak to the back pews without “calling them out.” Master the art of the experience.

Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, Schwinn Master Trainer, New York, NY.

Don’t assume anything about your participants. When you think someone isn’t following your ride just remember that you don’t know why they are there, their health history, or how they feel. Encourage everyone regardless of whether or not they appear to be “with you” or not.

Adam Reid, Real Ryder Master Instructor, Los Angeles, CA.

Remember your role as an instructor is one of service. You are a leader, an example, an inspiration, but your essential role is to serve with grace, understanding, and patience. Master this and your classes will be purposeful, powerful, and worthy of your rider’s investment.

Ralph Mlady, Spinning® Master Instructor, Parma, OH.

The one thing new instructors should master is the ability to coach using the communication style that allows each student to fully comprehend the intended cue. Often, as coaches, we tend to coach our students with the style which we are most comfortable. To effectively coach our participants, we need to be open to using multiple communication styles to get our cues across to everyone. These include visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues.

Summer Sides, Master Trainer NETA, Founder GX United, Tampa, FL.

Above all, understand the WHY behind your classes, drills, and coaching. Have a purpose behind what you do based on that understanding of the why. When you are able to tell your participants why you are doing specific drills, they will further trust you and be willing to go along with you, no matter how crazy it might sound! When you create classes based on a WHY, then you will have a well-rounded experience that is more than just “fun drills” put together…this is what makes for an amazing group ride for all involved.

Douglas Brooks, Real Ryder Master Instructor, Truckee, CA.

Personal preparation and investment in professionalism and expertise is one thing, but if you can take that given (Expected!), and drive all of that energy into a class session that places the attendee or athlete at the center of the universe, you are going to be able to create a special and engaged experience time after time.

Tom Scotto, Master Instructor and Director of Education, Indoor Cycling Association, Boston, MA.

Master a discipline and awareness of your own physical and mental health. Just as over-training can be detrimental to a person’s health, over-extending oneself as an instructor can affect both you and the riders you teach. Listen to your body. Stay in tune with your mental health. Recover regularly. Teach off the bike when needed. Take time off to remain strong and focused. We give to our riders not only from our knowledge and mastery of music, but from our energy, our inspiration, and our passion. Lead by example and your riders will follow with their own energy, inspiration, and passion.

Those are the singular, important things that these master trainers want you to know. I would like to thank each of them for sharing, and for being fantastic, dedicated, hard-working, and caring people. Take their words to heart and to your classes.

Master the craft.

We will have even more tips from master instructors next week.

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  1. There were a lot of great responses. After teaching cycling for 13 years (although not a master), I have come to understand the importance of being present in the moment with my class. My private mantra before and during every class is “right here/right now.” My cycling classes are the only times that I truly practice mindfulness without beating myself up about the number of times that I have to bring my mind back to the present. “Right here/Right now”

    1. Author

      Homer, I have the same experience when I’m on my bike! I love your mantra! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful idea! These were all terrific. The one that really spoke to me was from Andy Reid in saying that our role is one of service. A lot of good things naturally follow from that perspective. Of course, to be of service you first most know your stuff.

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