Many indoor cycling facilities add short demonstration classes every few weeks to encourage new riders to try indoor cycling, especially in the first few months of the year. Let’s talk about a unique variant of the demonstration class—the class designed to appeal to senior riders.
Though these classes may only be 30 minutes long and don’t contain any complicated drills or advanced techniques, they can require more forethought than you might realize. What is different about teaching seniors in this kind of class?
Having already started a successful twice-weekly Active Older Adults (AOA) cycling class at one of our local YMCA branches, I was recently asked to do it again at a different branch where no program existed. While my experience was specifically in dealing with seniors, many of the lessons I learned can also be applied to a more generalized beginner audience.
I began marketing the new senior class to other instructors and personal trainers at the facility. Their recommendation to “go try Bill’s cycling class” made a difference. I also attended a non-cycling AOA class to invite members to come and give indoor cycling a try. My message: it’s not scary and we will have fun.
Over about three weeks, new senior members began tentatively making their way to our cycling studio. The class was eventually converted to a regular time slot but the first several classes were taught as demonstration classes. As a result of the demonstration classes we have gone from an average of two riders to a regular attendance of 15 or more with the prospect of even further growth. Riders are having fun and seeing results!
I believe it worked because I took the trouble to design a special shortened-format class for these new riders. Several of them told me that the shortened class made it seem less intimidating, as did my promise that they could leave at any time. (No one did.)
The most important rule of teaching a short demonstration class is to keep it very simple. The fact that it is a demonstration class does not mean you have to demonstrate everything you know. Other than keeping riders safe, you have only one goal in teaching a short class: make it fun. If you can get people to come back, you can add on more details then.
Here are some of the points I think are most important to the proper teaching of a short demonstration class aimed at new older riders (or any new rider, for that matter).
Before class begins