You know those people at the gym who snicker when they walk by the cycling studio on their way to the weight room? You’ve seen them…they wouldn’t be caught dead wasting their time riding a bike that goes nowhere—they have more important things to do.
That was the case with Leslie Mueller, this week’s ICA spotlight instructor. As a young personal trainer, she told me she thought the idea of “riding a bike indoors was ridiculous!” Imagine her excitement when the training staff was required to attend an all day Spinning® certification in 1996. Begrudgingly, she dragged herself to the training, having no idea the importance of this day on her future.
Suddenly, the bike that went nowhere was taking her places she never imagined and she could not wait for others to experience her discovery.
Fast-forward 20 years and she is not only a very popular instructor, but she’s also a nationally and world-ranked triathlete. When I asked her, “What is the most important aspect of Leslie Mueller’s day?” without pause she said, “I LOVE teaching indoor cycling. I love the music. I love how it can be used to inspire and transform others through the experiences I get to create.”
Bringing years of skill, knowledge, and practice to her craft, Leslie enthusiastically serves as the director of instruction for Pelō Fitness, located in San Rafael, California. She explains that her role is to “keep the integrity of the program grounded solidly in science, while creating a class experience that is based heavily in music and tons of fun.”
Pelō isn’t the party-on-a-bike kind of fun you find in many West Coast studios. They keep the riding real with a very serious focus on educating their customers. The focus is placed on the individual’s success versus the competitiveness found in many boutiques. Leslie is confident that this is what elevates Pelō above their competition and drives their burgeoning success. The recipe seems to be working very well; they’ve gone through one expansion at the San Rafael studio, and plans include opening two more studios in the Bay Area in early 2016.
No other studio in the world has access to the real-time software Pelō has developed for their studios. (And neither did I—you’ll have to go there to experience it for yourself!) Leslie says, “With our proprietary Five Zone Power Structure, we’ve taken something that can be very complicated and intimidating and made it super user-friendly for the general public.”
When Pelō opened its doors, the owners sought out the area’s best instructors. But something was missing to help define the studio’s culture. Varying certifications had equipped each instructor with differing styles of teaching and cueing, but they lacked a common language. Leslie explained, “If one instructor referred to ‘leg-openers’ while another called them a ‘surge,’ we had clients wondering, ‘What am I doing?’” Her job has been to create clear, consistent coaching cues among the entire staff, which has helped Pelō’s riders know what to expect and how to respond, no matter the instructor delivering the class.
Consistency in communication is empowered by the music selection of each instructor. Knowing music is a major expression of any cycling class, Pelō leaders are required to coordinate the bpm of their music to match the rider’s rpm. This eliminates inconsistencies between what is audibly coached and heard rhythmically, ensuring an elevated experience for every class on their schedule.
When asked about music choices, Leslie was quick to note her formula: “If I like it and it inspires me, I use it. That’s the bottom line!” So how does she find one, two, three, or four attention-grabbing songs, given the 30 million offered between iTunes and Spotify? She resoundingly blurted, “The Indoor Cycling Association has been the greatest music resource I’ve ever found. It’s all right there!”
A member of ICA since it launched 4.5 years ago, she calls Jennifer Sage and Tom Scotto her major influencers and credits them with helping her develop her personal coaching style. “I still hear their wisdom in every class I teach,” she acknowledged.
Leslie is passionate about leading and teaching instructors. “Ultimately, I want each of them to find their own expression when leading a class at Pelō.”
From ridiculous to meticulous; such is the indoor cycling journey of Leslie Mueller. She’s certainly not the first, nor the last to begrudgingly climb aboard a stationary bike and have their life changed.
So, keep encouraging those naysayers to join you for a class. You never know—just like Leslie, they might become your most dynamic and enthusiastic champions.
SF BAY AREA INSTRUCTORS: Whether you’re new to indoor cycling or a veteran looking for a dynamic change, Leslie will be holding auditions very soon for their new studio location in San Francisco. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org