Never Forget the Beginner’s Mindset

As a seasoned, long-time instructor, it can be so easy to forget that we need to continually connect with our new students. Ten years ago I learned the valuable lesson of being a beginner and having a beginner’s mind-set.  This lesson has been one I have consistently used through out my career as indoor and outdoor cycling coach.

As we grow and progress as fitness professionals we become competent, confidant, strong and proficient, all in the pursuit of mastering the art of riding an indoor bicycle… that is the goal, right?

While our goal is to become better instructors, coaches, and human beings, we often lose touch with our connection with those who are just beginning their journey on the bike or learning a new technique that we have perhaps mastered long ago.

Remember the first time you attempted to ride a bike or the first time you got on a Spin bike? Remember the feelings and emotions you felt? I sure do… A unique mixture of fear of the unknown, some angst, and of course, some excitement. Seeing the very fit students rolling out of the studio from the class before my first class, dripping with sweat, and looking physically ‘worked’ added a nice note of intimidation to the mix.

I also remember once on the bike trying really hard to perform well and ‘look’ good from the first pedal stroke.  I am pretty sure I thought, “this should be easy, it’s riding a bike right?” But in reality, it was really tough. I was green, I lacked coordination and fitness, the seat wasn’t very comfortable, my saddle was too low and I had a wicked “stomp” in my pedal stroke. In short, I was the living definition of a beginner.

As instructors, having a beginner’s mind-set gives us the ability to feel compassion and empathy for all the souls we encounter, both in the studio and in life. It also gives us the opportunity to connect with our clients at a rudimentary beginner’s level. In turn, our compassion and empathy help our clients connect with the movements and techniques that we are giving them to learn and master.

I was reminded of how powerful the beginner’s mind-set is last month while helping out in the Krankcycle booth at the IDEA conference in Los Angeles. I spent the day giving product demonstrations and answering questions.  I have done a lot (hundreds) of Krankcycle demos at trade shows like IDEA and in our club’s studio. My demo “script” has evolved to show how fast, smooth and fun that particular device is to train on, but the “script” evolved over time and now it comes from the mind of someone who has had hundreds of hours of practice and experience. Gone was the mind of the beginner, replaced with the mind of a well-practiced veteran.

The same was true for the other expert Krankcycle trainers manning the booth—minds of advanced experience and practice, far from being beginners.  During our pre-show team meeting, Krankcycle creator Johnny G spoke to the crew and asked us to slow and simplify our approach. Instead of doing our normal fast, smooth, high-energy demo, we would take the approach of a beginner, using a beginner’s mind. Instead of turning the Kranks with speed and power, we would turn the Kranks slow and with finesse.

Turning the Kranks slow with finesse opens the door to  “connection points”.  The student connects with the equipment; the trainer connects with the student.  The connection fosters the exchange of the experience. As a result, the script now cuts out all the fear, angst, and intimidation for a beginner and imparts them with a vivid experience.

This approach can have an amazing impact on the souls you encounter in the indoor cycling studio, as well as in life. Consider cultivating your own beginner’s mind-set in your studio, where you can plant the seed of many connection points to help impart and share vivid experiences to your newer students. Finesse the delivery of your message, slow it down and use unintimidating words to ease the transition for your new students.

And no matter how much experience you gain, how strong a rider you are, how skilled a cycling coach you have become, never, ever forget what it’s like to be a beginner!

Bryon Black is a long-time Spinning® instructor from southern California who I’ve known for many years. He is also a very strong outdoor cyclist and has excelled at bringing the outdoor experience indoors to his riders.  He was instrumental in bringing me out to present at the Tour de Cove in 2008, a very emotional and amazing event for the Challenged Athletes Foundation that I will never forget. It is also where I got to experience the Krancycle for the first time. That was the inaugural year for the Krankcycle, Johnny G’s upper body ergometer.

You are free to share this article as desired. Please share the link with other indoor cycling instructors you know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *