Janet Toussaint has been teaching Spinning® and indoor cycling since 1996 when she was first certified as a Spinning instructor by Mad Dogg Athletics. She became a master instructor the following year. Since that time, much has transpired in the world of indoor cycling, from the bikes to the certification process, and the continuing education that surrounds it. She first wrote this article for ICA in 2011, and to this day, continues to educate Spinning instructors, including teaching the SpinPower program. Her coaching tips in this 2-part series still apply, whether you have high-tech equipment and power meters or you have bikes with no metrics at all.
We can go round and round about which bike is best, which class format is best, which music to use, and whether a heart rate monitor or power meter is preferable. You can have the very best in equipment, the most exclusive training facility, and all of the fanfare that goes with it, but what really trumps all of this is the way the class is organized and coached.
After years of traveling around the globe teaching at indoor cycling facilities, I can honestly say I think I’ve seen just about everything. In many cases, the best programs, instructors, and teaching styles I’ve seen are in the most nondescript, hidden places; you would never think to walk inside and expect the caliber of coaching that is available there.
What set them apart? These instructors were really more like coaches, not just an instructor. It was obvious that they had a training plan and a coaching plan to go with it. They cared about what training effect they were bringing to their classes. It was also evident they kept up with their continuing education, understanding that there is always, always, always more to learn. Sure, most aren’t a “coach” in the sense of training athletes to compete and win their specific athletic events, but there is a dramatic difference between instructors who simply go through the motions of just teaching to a roomful of bikes, yelling at riders to go harder, faster, and sweat more and those who put in the work to really change the lives of their riders.
The fact that you are here reading this puts you squarely in that category. Let’s examine an important way to improve upon your ability to really tune in with your riders.