A couple of weeks ago I was hit with a virus that kept me from the indoor cycling studio for two weeks. For those of us who love to teach, that can feel like an eternity. In addition to being sick and missing class, as instructors we are tasked with finding other instructors to substitute for us. After a week of sending sub requests, making phone calls, and offering bribes, I had yet to secure a sub for my 6:00 am Friday class. The general manager of the club said she would take care of it and told me to rest. I was relieved and did as I was told.
Upon my return, I asked my class if they missed me and if the subs had sufficiently kicked their butts. As it turned out, no instructor showed up for the Friday morning class in question. I then learned that one of the riders plugged in an iPod and everyone stayed and rode together. There was no instructor and no instruction. Everyone just did their own workout and enjoyed the company of their fellow riders.
Coaching, Not Cajoling
I smiled like a proud parent. Abandoned, my class could have decided to leave and take another group fitness class, weight train, or hit the showers. Instead they remained and said they still got a great workout. Many of the riders told me they could still hear my voice coaching them, keeping them on the bike, keeping them focused, keeping them from backing down. I couldn’t help but beam. One rider said, “You taught us how to train. We had no excuse.”
It is incredibly satisfying to know that all of the workshops I’ve attended, all of the articles I’ve read, all of the methods I’ve studied, and all of the other instructors I’ve learned from helped me to educate, train, and motivate my class.
It Takes a Village
There is something special about a class that really enjoys coming together. They talk amongst themselves (sometimes to the point of disruption) and connect outside of class. I’m am blessed to have taught this particular class for ten years—same day, same time. We have seen riders overcome numerous challenges, including cancer, and return. One rider takes everyone out to breakfast every three to four weeks. Even though I’m the instructor, I do not feel like the sole person holding the group together. It takes a village or a community to raise an inspired and dedicated class. It is important that we take the time to thank our riders for everything they bring through the studio door.
Don’t Be Shy
I’m sure there are many stories and examples like this. Please share about your class and how experiences, bonds, and community were created beyond the focus of fitness.