Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to NOT Teach an Indoor Cycling Class

A Very Critical Review of an Indoor Cycling Class

How to NOT Teach an Indoor Cycling Class
It is not often that one hears an Indoor Cycling Class described as un-motivating, uninspiring, unwelcoming, and unsafe. Unfortunately, on a Wednesday evening in August, 2011 at the [Insert name of Large, Well-Known Fitness Facility Here] that is most likely what many participants in attendance experienced.
Indoor Cycling, also known as “Spinning,” can be a great way to enjoy a high-intensity, low-impact, cardio workout. With the right instructor, a participant can expect to be challenged, motivated, entertained, and educated all in the space of one hour. However, on Wednesday night the only thing the class provided was 45 minutes of eye-rolling and disinterest from an out-of-shape, over-the-hill instructor who didn’t have any regard for the safety of her clients, and who conveyed an attitude that she would rather be doing anything other than teaching the class.
The tone of an Indoor Cycling Class is usually set by the teacher before a class even begins. Most seasoned instructors, who take pride in the classes they teach, will make an effort to set the tone by greeting people when they arrive, as if they were greeting guests arriving to a party-with a little mood music, general interest, enthusiasm, and consideration.
It would be easy to assume, on this particular evening, the teacher wanted the hour long class to be an unwelcoming, uninspiring, and unpleasant experience. The instructor had her back to the entrance of the room while people were entering; she neglected to greet any of them as they arrived; there was no music playing before the class started; and the music still hadn’t been switched on till at least five minutes after the class was scheduled to begin. The word somber doesn’t even begin to describe the vibe of the room, the instructor’s personality, and the clients already in attendance, on this night.
The type of neglectful behavior, demonstrated by the instructor in the following minutes, would make most fitness professionals question the instructor’s credentials. Ten minutes before class was to begin, there were six people along one side of the room already set up on their indoor cycling bikes, while at least 15 bikes were mashed into a corner on the opposite side of the room. Around this time, several first-time participants arrived for class but were left standing, ignored and unassisted by the instructor, all the while being glared at by the six people already set up on bikes. Anyone in the fitness industry who is certified to teach group fitness classes, by a respected certifying body, has been educated on the importance of creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all in attendance. Perhaps the instructor skipped that chapter because what followed in the next few minutes would make most fitness professionals cringe.
After about 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do, one first-timer stepped up and began wrestling a bike out of the tangled mess in the corner. Once she got the bike dislodged from the jumbled heap, she fought to get the attention of the instructor who was busy hanging on the handlebars of a man’s bike, deep in conversation. The instructor looked up for a moment as the gal with the bike asked “Where should I put it?” The instructor didn’t care. In fact, her words were “Wherever you want, it doesn’t matter.” So the rest of the first timers, myself included, proceeded to shimmy the bikes haphazardly to the center of the room. Not once did the instructor offer any assistance.
It’s one thing for a fitness professional to neglect the importance of music before, during or after a class, and definitely bad form to be rude and inconsiderate, but it becomes a liability when an instructor neglects to help clients move heavy pieces of fitness equipment around a room. Considering the average weight of most indoor cycling bikes being a minimum of 114 lbs, and several of the people in attendance barely weighing as much as the bikes, the instructor’s neglect to offer any assistance is an invitation to an accident.
Once class began, it didn’t get any better than the introduction. Not once did the instructor bother to introduce herself; ask any of the first timers if they needed any help; go over any information about the bikes or what to expect from the class; nor did she go over any safety issues. The only instruction she offered throughout the class, other than reminding everyone to breathe, was to take a break or to drink some water.
When fitness enthusiasts choose to take an indoor cycling class, it’s usually because they’re looking for a challenge. Wednesday’s Cycle class was definitely a challenge. In fact, it became downright torture, an absolute test of endurance. Unfortunately, instead of challenging anyone’s physical ability, the only endurance challenge offered during this class was to see how long anyone could endure watching an instructor with terrible form and a scowl on her face as she mouthed the words to the mullet-hair-cut-inspired music from the late 70s and early 80s, or as she half-heartedly spoke in monotone while saying “Don’t forget to breathe. Drink some Water. Take a break.”
The Wed night class with this particular instructor would be hard to recommend to anyone who expects an inspiring, challenging, and enjoyable workout.  Any instructor who can drop the ball in so many ways, and ignore many of the important components essential to providing an excellent indoor cycling experience, is probably without hope. On a positive note, she did finish class on time.

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