What Do You Do When You’re Not in the Mood to Teach?

You’ve been there. It was a hard day at work. You’re coming down with a cold. You’ve got other pressing issues on your mind. And, you have to go teach. Normally you love teaching. But today? Not so much. How do you deal?

The answer begins with one more question. Are you a professional? Your answer to that question tells you what you have to do. What if you were a doctor, a law enforcement officer, or, for that matter, a performer? But wait, you are a performer, a professional performer and teacher. Your audience is waiting.

So let’s go.


  1. This hasn’t happened to me very often because by the time the class starts I have psyched myself up and am also feeding off the energy of my participants.

    There is an associate instructor though, that will tell her class that she is really tired and is going to take it easy on them. She genuinely is feeling low, but by half the class is over, she is caught up in the energy of the class and pushing her students hard. It has become a standing joke with those that know her.

  2. Great topic.

    Honestly this happens to me on a regular basis, I teach at 545a 3 days a week and every so often I feel totally unmotivated, usually coupled with a pressure packed dead line at my other job, or a few too many late nights in a row or even worse feeling sick or under the weather. Unfortunately teaching at such an early hour there is no chance of getting a sub on short notice…

    When those feelings of low motivation happen, the part about being a performer rings true, the show has to go on… Actually one of my associate instructors put this situation in simple terms that I use pretty much every day I instruct.

    Her words in dealing with lack of motivation or any class, is that as an instructor I am hosting guests in my house, hosting an event or a party, and for one hour I am going to the be the best host I can be. plain and simple. When you hit the front door of the club, it’s game time, all smiles and big energy for the next hour! After the hour you can go home and sleep it off.

    As for sharing or telling… If it is obvious, like I barely have a voice, I share that I am not feeling super well, but I am there to give them a solid hour or training, I might not be on the bike, or be very chatty, but I will deliver a solid training for them so hang on, less of me means “more of them”!

    If it is more along the lines of feeling blah, angry, or just plain flat tired, I usually don’t share details… but if asked (they are so perceptive sometimes!) I will smile, thank them for their concern and simply say that I am not feeling my best at this moment but I am going to give them a solid hour of training.

    I think a big part of the “motivation” game here is trying not to dwell on the heavy energy that you are feeling. That for many is the anchor that will drag your motivation to the bottom of the sea and keep it there.

    In a lot of ways when you get to teach / train students you are entering a scared place of sorts and negative heavy energy has no purpose or even worse a counter productive purpose for the hour long blocks you spend in front of a class, so it makes sense to simply delay / clear away / place those feelings on hold for an hour. Deal with them after you have done your job!

  3. Usually, if I have moments where I am tired, unmotivated for the day, it doesn’t take much more than a warm-up and seeing my favorite riders show up to make me feel better! And the good thing is, before you know it class is over and it’s time to go home, and most of the time my mood is improved! 🙂

    1. Author

      Kala, you’re right! Sometimes I wonder who gets more out of a class. In one sense a class is a sharing of energy. And, as you suggest, a multiplier of energy as well. Best to you.

  4. Deanne, that is a great suggestion. It’s a good reminder to practice what we are preaching!

  5. Great article as usual. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Thanks Deanne, I’m grateful. You are right on point. You have a terrific way to start. I always begin my classes with some conscious breathing. With that I ask them to leave their day behind even if just for a short time.

      And I love your last sentence: “The best part is when the class goes well, whatever it was that made me not want to give it my all that class is no longer as important.” That is SO true.

      Clearly you get that indoor cycling is a mind-body exercise even though it is done while aerobic. Best to you and your teaching.

  6. I try to take my own advice. During the warm up of each class, I do a form review that does a head to toe “this is how you should ride” breakdown. I begin every single form review with this:

    “Start with your mind. Clear it of everything that is bugging you. Leave it at the door…you can pick it up on your way out if you still want it. Focus your mind and your energy on your workout.”

    I have had to do this myself several times, and I find it is not just talk; I really am able to better coach when I leave it at the door. The best part is when the class goes well, whatever it was that made me not want to give it my all that class is no longer as important.

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