class intro new instructor

The New Instructor: 7 Proven Instructor Tips for a First Class That’s First Class!

Stage fright. Jitters. Butterflies in your belly. We’ve all been there. After weeks of training and hours putting together that perfect playlist, you’re about to clip in for your first class. A sweaty version of the dreaded “public speaking,” it can be nerve-wracking for even the most confident individual! But it doesn’t have to be. Here are seven tips to make that first class feel a little less intimidating.

Tip #1: Find a Mentor 

Chances are you’ve decided to get your indoor cycling certification because you’re already taking classes that you love. Think about which instructors have a teaching style that you like and ask one of them to mentor you. Audition your profile with your mentor, or even just have them critique your playlists and profiles.

Tip #2: Team Up 

Think about “team teaching” for your first class. It will be something fun and different for your participants and far easier (and less intimidating for you) if there are two of you in the front of the room. Your mentor would be the perfect instructor to pair up with!

Tip #3: Teach a Private Class

Ask your studio if you can invite a small group of friends and family to be your first participants. Treat it like a dress rehearsal and stick to your plan as if you were teaching actual club members. What a great, no-pressure way to try out your profile and practice bike setup on the most forgiving people you know!

Tip #4: Practice Makes Perfect

At the risk of sound like “masters of the obvious,” we can’t stress this enough. Like every other new skill you’ve learned in life, practice makes perfect, or at least as close to it as you can get! Use the studio when it’s available to you and ride your profile as many times as you need to get comfortable with your cueing and your language.

And what if, despite all your practice and planning, something goes wrong? Remember that your students won’t know if you forget part of a drill, miss a cue, or flub a few words here and there. We are all our own worst critics. If you need notes or cue cards, use them! We know many seasoned instructors who use cue cards for every class…and others who are comfortable and confident without them. Over time you’ll figure out what works best for you. And don’t forget to practice your post-ride stretching routine, as well!

Tip #5: Master the Technology

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the stereo system, including the microphone. Know what volume levels you need to be heard over the music at your studio. We see a wide variety of systems in clubs, from sleek, simple, one-unit systems to complicated component setups with mixing boards. Knowing the ins and outs of your system will help all of your classes run smoothly. Your mentor can be a big help here as well, but be prepared for the worst and always have a back-up plan for music, even if it’s just a small portable speaker you can connect to your phone or iPod.

Tip #6: Over Pack

What’s in your bag? We all know the old adage that anything that can go wrong, will. Make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality. Keep a spare charger in your bag for your MP3 player or phone. Batteries and windscreens for the mic. Sticky notes and a pen for writing down bike settings, and dry erase markers for writing on the mirrors…even if you only write your name! A set of allen wrenches. Extra socks…for you or a member who might have forgotten theirs. A few extra clean water bottles in case your riders come without. And that portable speaker!

Tip #7: Arrive Early, Stay Late

Flying into the room 5 minutes before class starts and quickly packing up your bag right after class are missed opportunities. If the studio is available to you, get there at least 20 minutes early. Get the stereo set up, put on some energetic (but not too loud) music, and set up your bike. Greet each student as they arrive, and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Check EVERYONE’s bike setup. Getting names again as they leave the room will help you remember them the next time they come in.

Approach that first class with anticipation not trepidation. And remember to smile!


  1. These are great tips! Thank you! I’m teaching my first solo class on Friday night and boy am I nervous! I have taught with my mentor by my side a few times, and she won’t be there to be my cushion!

    1. Good luck Amanda! Let us know how it goes! I love to hear when new instructors have mentors…what a difference that makes!

  2. Great tips Sara! Hope to see you soon

  3. Great article, Sarah. I am also an ICA contributor and I welcome you. This is a great list and I am sure it will help new instructors.

    One more thing, “Be Yourself”. I see too many new instructors who try overly hard to copy someone else. Don’t try to be just like your mentor, or anyone else. Steal liberally from them but give yourself the freedom to just be yourself. Authenticity is treasured.

    I am happy to have you aboard.

    1. “Be yourself” is great advice. I always say, “be the best version of yourself!” Sometimes it does take new instructors a little while to “find themselves,” but it always pays off to be true to your own personality and style, I couldn’t agree more!

  4. I’m so excited about my first article for ICA! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an exciting organization!

    1. And I am so excited to have you here as well! We’ve been talking about this for years. Your years of experience teaching, insight, great coaching and mentoring ability, and excellent writing skills all combine to make you the perfect contributor at ICA!

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