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How to Take a Step Forward by Stepping Back for a Moment

Have you attended an indoor cycling lately? I don’t mean have you lead one, I mean have you given up the instructors’ bike and put your headset aside to actually become a class participant and ride with the class, rather than lead it? There’s a big difference between instructing a class and being a participant in one.

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Aside from the obvious differences, did you know that attending another instructors’ class will make your own classes even better than they already are? If you want to be a great instructor and fill your indoor cycling classes with Rraving fans, I suggest you take your instructors hat off and ride with the group. I’ve had the privilege of leading a great team of indoor cycling instructors for a number of years now, and can confidently say that those instructors that attend other classes on a regular basis are better instructors and provide attendants with a better cycling experience because of it.

I know life can get busy and it can be difficult to make the time to attend other classes on top of teaching your own but I also know that if you make the time, your class participants will notice the difference and it will be very worth your while. Here are 7 reasons why:

1. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

As you ride, the wheels will literally turn… in your head! You’ll have new ideas for your own classes and you’ll get the benefit of a great workout! After just one class, you’ll go back to your own with fresh new sequences, moves, music and a tonne of energy.

2. Rise Out of a ‘Rut’

Instructors get stale and because we’re creatures of habit, we tend to get stuck in the same old routines. I know for myself if I didn’t stay fresh, I would likely find my way back to rolling hills again and again and again. Being fresh is what will make you stand out as an instructor and will have attendants raving about your class. Experiencing someone else’s class will thrust your own class out of the RUT and into a new and exciting ride.

3. See the Student Perspective

We sometimes forget what it’s like to be a class participant. Remembering has a lot of benefits. For one, it makes you more empathetic, especially during the hard work. The more fit we get as instructors, the more we tend to forget what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the HARD WORK we’re so great at handing out. You’ll have more compassion for your attendants once you’ve gone through what they go through regularly.You’ll also be more attentive to the need for posture breaks, water stops and longer stretching time at the end of the class. Instructors tend to rush through these very important aspects of cycling. As a participant, you’ll experience the need for breaks, stretching and water on a whole new level – you’ll want them yourself!

4. Learn What Really Works

Do you really know what works in your own class? Do you know what you say that motivates your participants or de-motivates them? As a class participant you’ll notice if something said by the instructor was motivating or demotivating to the group. You’ll also notice what kinds of things bring the group into unity and flow and what kinds of things do the opposite. This will allow you to make the necessary changes to your own classes and will enable you to have a constructive look at yourself as an instructor. Maybe some of the things you say aren’t working like you thought they were.

5. Set the Standard for Students

So, chances are you’re going to get heckled a little. I know from experience that my clients love to see me having to work hard like the rest of them. You’ll likely hear a few of them say “how do you like it?!” and “Come on, pick up the pace!” but deep down they’ll be thinking their instructor really does practice what he or she preaches and they will respect you for it.

6. Enjoy ‘Me Time’

This is the most important benefit of being a participant. As an instructor, the focus is always on your class participants, which is great for them but not always great for you. It’s important that sometime in your week, you’re able to focus on you.

7. Re-ignite Passion Following Fellow Instructors

Instructors give a lot of themselves and in order to keep the energy flowing, they need to receive as well. Attending another instructor’s’ class allows you to enjoy indoor cycling as a participant again. You may find you actually work harder and get more out of the class when you don’t have to be “on” as an instructor. Taking this time for you will prevent burnout and will actually ignite the fire and passion for indoor cycling that made you want to be an instructor in the first place.

My participants will tell you the most intense, exciting and energetic rides are those when I’m back from vacation, a fitness conference or another instructors’ class. If you haven’t done it in a while, I encourage you to go for it, set the front bike and headset aside and be a class participant in order to be a better instructor. You’ll love it and so will your riders!

Ready for a dose of  “me time”? Be spontaneous! Find a new class where nobody knows you’re an instructor to tap into that special mind-body experience that comes from a solo ride, free of distractions.

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