There was an interesting discussion this week on one of the Facebook indoor cycling forums about teaching without music. The lack of music could be due to a power outage, it could be stereo malfunction, or your iPod battery (or system) fails, or perhaps even your own fault because you forgot your music.
There were even some who said they preferred teaching without music. While I do believe the profile comes first, and that coaching trumps music, I could not do it except for that rare emergency situation. I do not believe Spinning® would have taken off like it did without empowering music to motivate riders. There are scientific studies that prove that music can motivate exercisers to work at a higher level than without music, lowering RPE for a given output. Do you know anyone who teaches regularly without music?
I thought it could be fun to have a discussion here about teaching without music. Have you ever had a music emergency in which you had to teach your class with no music at all?
How did you initially react? Fear? Panic? Doubt? Anger (at management or fate or whomever might have been at fault)?
What did you do? What did you learn?
What were your riders’ reactions? Positive or negative?
Do you feel like you grew as an instructor as a result of the challenge?
It happened to me in the middle of class about six years ago. At first I thought the speakers just blew out, but I played with the stereo for about 2 minutes to no avail. It completely died. So I just jumped back on the bike and said, “Guess what? We are riding with no music today!” It turned into a fabulous ride; however, I was much more conscious of being “on stage” than when teaching normal classes.
At another club, members were allowed access to the cycling room, including the stereo, which caused all sorts of problems. Management would not lock it up, since this is a homeowner’s association club in which homeowners paid dues; they said they should have access to the stereo. One early morning I came in and every button and switch was messed up. Nothing would work! Now, I admit to not being the most technically savvy person, but I thought I knew stereos. So I started my class without music, which I think is harder to do than finishing a class where you lose it partway. One of the members went and got help, and after about 10 minutes, they got it working. (As we thought, someone had changed a setting or two.)
There was a huge sigh of relief in that studio…but I felt like for those 10 minutes, I most definitely stepped up my game a notch.
Emergencies like this pull the best out of instructors because they realize they can’t hide behind the music and must focus only on their coaching/cueing. I’ve often heard from instructors who have encountered this that they teach their best classes in cases like these—I know I have.
Please share your “horror story” of no music. I bet it turned into a wonderful situation in which your riders got a fantastic workout and learned that they truly can focus without music, and that you learned a lot about yourself and your coaching abilities.
Here’s my question, and challenge, to you (and me):
If it takes an emergency like this to force us to step up our game and pull out all the stops to be the best coach….is that something we can do every time even when not faced with a challenge like this?
Food for thought.
The e-book Top Ten Ways to Stay Motivated as an Indoor Cycling Instructor covers challenges like these, and much more. It teaches you how to be prepared for anything that providence throws your way!