Mentoring New Instructors is a Win-Win for All

Mentoring New Instructors is a Win-Win for Mentor and Mentee

ICA is all about our becoming better indoor cycling instructors. One of the ways we can become better ourselves is to help new instructors when we get the chance. Mentoring gives great benefit not only to the new instructor but to the mentor as well. It is a great win-win for all involved—if it’s done correctly.

Teaching is one the best ways I know to learn. To teach someone else, you must completely break down your own knowledge of the material. You must examine your unchallenged assumptions. You must find multiple ways to convey the same information. You must be ready to accept, and deal with, inconsistencies in your thinking. You must do all of these things to be a good mentor to a new instructor. And I’ve not even yet addressed the ways that mentoring benefits the new instructor. (More on that in a bit.)  

You don’t need to have a formal mentoring system to be a mentor to a new instructor. All you need to do is offer help in a kind and respectful way. “Hey, I understand you are new. I remember how that felt. If you’d ever like to talk, or even co-teach a class, let me know.”  

I am lucky to be a mentor in a more formal situation. At the Des Moines, Iowa, YMCA, new instructors are referred to me as part of their on-boarding process. If the new instructor has prior teaching experience, my role is mostly to explain our teaching philosophy and to help them with small technical or procedural questions. However, if the new instructor is brand-new to teaching, it can be an important and ongoing learning experience.  


  1. (continued 2) My next step would be to assign them to attend several classes so they can observe the integration of the material – good or bad. Dialogue on this with them.

    Third, I would have a heart to heart talk about what kind of instrector they wish to be.

    Finally, I would co-teach with them until they are ready to fly solo.

    The other issue here is the level of commitment of your program to quality cycle instruction. Why are they willing to hire uncertified instructors? Will they at least support you in providing them with this minimal training until they get certified? If not, what do we need to do to persuade them that cycle instruction is an art based on science?

  2. (Continued) But to your question, how do you mentor someone who has never taken a certain class?

    First, I would insist that they study — not just read — Jennifer’s ebook, “Keep it Real”. It is vital for them to know that book inside out. It is not as good as a “hands on” certification experience but most of the knowledge they need is there.

  3. Hi Melissa. I appreciate your question and am interested in having this discussion with you.

    Our YMCA also has some uncertified instructors but in our case they are older instructors who have kind of been grandfathered in. That has its own set of problems but somewhat different from yours. To my knowledge we are no longer hiring instructors who are not cycle certified.

  4. Thanks for the great article Bill! At our YMCA, I also have the opportunity to mentor new instructors. My biggest struggle is that our facility does not require any type of certification or training. Many times it is extremely challenging to start from scratch, especially when our training time is limited and they need to be very self-motivated. Is this similar to your site? If yes, any other suggestions? I like the idea of meeting with them to chat first to let them know what’s involved & I haven’t tried that yet. Thanks again!

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