Where do you find the most inspiring indoor cycling instructors and dynamic, successful studios in the world? What a great question! This month ICA set out on a mission to highlight the indoor cycling coaches, studio owners, and group fitness directors who are impacting individuals and communities where they lead and serve.
It should be no surprise to find our first featured instructor, Julianne Lafleur (on the left in the photo), an 8-year veteran indoor cycling coach, residing in one of the most “Bike Friendly Cities*” in the world—Toronto, Canada. Quick research noted the city’s commitment to Education, Encouragement, and Planning led to their recent gold-designated status. A simple twist of fate (or perhaps a Canadian Formula for Gold Success?!), I quickly identified parallel values with Julianne’s vibrant leading.
Early in her 20-year fitness career, Julianne rose to become a much sought-after “Step Specialist.” Recognizing continuous impact classes were taking a tremendous toll on her body, she took a step off the box and onto the bike. Falling in love with Spinning®, she deepened her service into the community she loved so much. As one of her students recently wrote about this Mad Dogg–certified instructor, “Your classes and presence in my life have and continue to strengthen me, give me courage, and transcend my self-imposed limitations in all areas of my life.”
Currently teaching three indoor cycling classes per week at a 45-bike, “big box” club studio, Julianne expressed her top advice to any instructor in three words: “Never stop learning!” She feels education is foremost. “The fitness field is always evolving and it’s imperative to stay current and educated through conferences, master classes, and any other offerings I find, even if unrelated to indoor cycling. It’s critical for me to do this and makes me more confident as an instructor. It helps me stay on top of current trends, and keeps me refreshed, motivated, and energized—all of which I bring back to the studio.”
Encouragement is not lost in Julianne’s classes for the sake of education. “You must get to know your members. Find out their needs. Sometimes it takes experimentation.” Julianne’s middle-aged demographic is “probably due to the life we all share in common, especially the women.”
It is evident that Julianne has built a strong level of personal and professional trust with her students. When trying to explain the connectedness she has with her students, she replied, “I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’m kind. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and believe honesty is a connector. I was once told by a rider, ‘You saved my life.’ I have no idea how or what I specifically did for her, other than be present.”
Julianne recommends that instructors know why they are doing what they are doing, and to let their students know. Her classes follow a schedule, which she announces two months in advance. It’s evident that planning is key to Julianne’s riders’ understanding her purpose and intent. There is purpose to every class she teaches, and her riders know what to expect. Most importantly, they know when FTP testing is going to happen. She pointed out an obvious scenario for many instructors when she said, “Everybody wants another interval class, but do they need it?”
Incorporating visual presentations into each class helps enhance her riding goals. Julianne says that her “visual learners love to see what is happening during the ride. They know what is coming, and they can invest their energy where needed.” When a rider showed up to class one day and gifted her with an easel for her dry erase board, it reinforced this aspect of her teaching. “I found that it gave them energy and excitement before we had even started.”
Julianne’s impact isn’t just reserved to the cycle studio. She still teaches her beloved Step once a week. On weekends, you will find her volunteering for the Toronto Outdoor Club, leading various adventures such as canoeing, hiking or an upcoming tree-top trek. Regardless of the fitness attire she dons for this weekend’s journey, no doubt a pure heart of gold lies beneath each of those dry-fit layers.
So, cheers! Julianne Lafleur, ICA designates you as our first “Bike Friendly, Rider-Invested, Gold Designated Leader” for Indoor Cycling Communities Worldwide!
*“Gold Designation for Bike Friendly Cities with Populations over 1 Million.”
– Share the Road Cycling Coalition