My frustration over the malfunctioning microphone in the cycling studio has built over the last couple of months. It only works if you hold it at just the right angle, tape the headset cord, and secure the batteries with a rubber band. This week the microphone finally died; it was not coming back. I reluctantly taught the class without it. The show must go on.
Every time I’m forced to teach without a microphone, I think about those instructors who do not believe in using a mic. They believe instructing without a mic does not affect their teaching or the experience they deliver.
They could not be more wrong.
“I don’t need a microphone…our studio is very small…the cycling room has good acoustics…my voice really projects…”
I’ve had the privilege of taking indoor cycling classes, hosting auditions, and assessing instructors all over the world. Not one instructor has ever proven to me they could teach without a mic. Something or someone always suffers (not to mention vocal cord damage, nodules, and polyps).
When I present a certification workshop, I reserve the last hour for each instructor to teach a 3-minute drill. This gives everyone an opportunity to try something they’ve learned and receive feedback from other instructors and myself.
During one of the last workshops I presented, a petite woman with a sweet-as-pie voice took the instructor bike for her 3 minutes of glory. I handed her the mic but she refused, stating she didn’t need it. Out of arguably the smallest and cutest instructor I’ve seen exploded a voice of fury. The music started and she began…yelling. I was so startled by the juxtaposition, my first thought was exorcism. Her “commands” were abrupt and jarring, as if yelling at short-order cooks in a fast-food restaurant. I didn’t know whether to pedal faster, stand, or make two eggs over-easy. I followed the riders in the first row out of fear.
Wah, wah wah wah wah, wah wah
Some of you are concerned that my autocorrect has gone haywire; others know the (dating myself) reference to the voice of the teacher in Charlie Brown. Some instructors, despite the lack of vocal amplification, provide detailed drill descriptions only to sound like an auctioneer choking on a piece of gum. It just sounds like babble and riders are left lost and confused. Although all of the Peanuts characters seemingly understood their teacher’s instruction, your indoor cycling class is most definitely struggling to figure out what they should be doing, what is coming next, or what just happened. Even if some of the people in the class figure out how to move by imitating the front row, they are still missing out on the inspiration and motivation of your coaching.
Teaching without a mic can startle and frighten your class. It can cause your riders to strain their ears more than their legs as they attempt to read your lips for guidance. Teaching without a mic also greatly affects the quality of cueing and coaching. Although fewer instructors will attempt to dialog with their riders without a mic, many simply reduce their instruction to short primal commands.
In addition to allowing you to use an inside voice and vocal inflection for a more dynamic (and dramatic) delivery, the clarity and support provided by a microphone allows for stories, anecdotes, motivational sayings, and even explaining training objectives.
Remember the small, cute screamer from my earlier example? Instead of tackling her to the ground in hopes of exorcising demons, I gently and confidently handed her the mic again. Like a beast having received an antidote, she returned to her right mind. Her first comment over the mic was priceless: “Wow, now that everyone can hear me clearly, I’m not sure what to say. I better learn some coaching cues.”
If someone hands you a mic and you find yourself lost for words, or you are just looking to sharpen your cueing and coaching skills, ICA is here for you. Become a member and get access to over 100 Class Profiles, as well as our Obsessive Cycling Drills,
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