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Guest blogger: Matt Grasela talks about Keeping it Real at a new facility

By Jennifer Sage On March 19, 2012 Under General Advice, Keep it Real

Matt at WSSC

Ever since I got my hands on Jennifer Sage’s ebook, Keep It Real, I’ve been trying my best to teach a class that provides real benefits to my participants.

I’ve been taking Spinning┬« classes since 1997 and teaching since 2007. When I first started teaching, I taught how I had ridden, which was mostly interval classes, often-times laden with contraindicated movements that I had believed to be beneficial because I had done them so often in classes I took.

Getting my hands on Keep it Real opened my eyes to understanding how to ride and why riding correctly is so important. Almost overnight I began to change my style and methodology of how I led my class. Gone were the corporal punishment drills of jumping and ineffective resistance changes, no more drastic sways of heavy resistance to almost nothing on the wheel, and most importantly, no more incorrect use of terminology to make myself sound more knowledgable than I was.

In the few years since I’ve been teaching a more “real” class, I’ve come to realize how truly important it is to be knowledgeable and comfortable coaching an indoor cycling class. Members do understand the tenets of an outdoor ride and want to ride correctly, however our industry has so many instructors who misunderstand effective teaching methods and have little to no knowledge of the physiology of cycling, that indoor cycling participants wind up getting short-changed.

Keeping It Real is effective, fun and changes the status quo of the quality of classes offered at a facility. You will know you are doing it right when you start to hear compliments at the end of class that are along the lines of “that was very different than the usual class that I take” or “wow, that was really just like riding outside”. I moved from Buffalo, NY to Charlotte, NC in September 2011 and had a fresh slate to work with when I began applying for cycling positions. I began to introduce the Keep It Real philosophy to the facilities that I teach at, and the response has been positive and highly encouraging to me as a instructor.

It has been a little bit of an uphill battle though. Members are use to a “group ex” format across the board. Teaching a class in a style that is more attune with real riding will win you over the “right” students and most of those sitting on the fence. However, those that prefer classes with contraindicated movements will leave, most likely making some noise on their way out of the door. But those that remain are dedicated to improving their fitness, focusing on results, and most importantly, learning from you and listening to what you have to say. I can’t think of a bigger compliment to your development and effort as a professional in this industry than that.

I know I’m preaching to the choir a bit here – ICA members are leading the change in this industry. I encourage you to take advantage of all that Jennifer Sage, Tom Scotto, Jennifer Klau, Bryon Black and the other contributors have to offer in their recent interviews and articles on the Indoor Cycling Association.

[You can read more about Keep it Real here.]

Spinning contraindications

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Leo
    March 19, 2012
    12:21 pm #comment-1

    Great post Matt. Keep up the good work, in teaching ” keep it real ” to your students. I find the instructors that don’t teach correctly are the ones that don’t go any further in there knowlege of indoor cycling than the initial one day of training for certifacation. Leo

  2. Kimberly
    June 8, 2012
    4:38 pm #comment-2

    Dear Matt:
    When a person is honest and speaks from the heart, it gives everyone permission to do the same. Your post caused me to ask myself “Where amI trying to make myself appear more knowledgeable than I am, and where am I shortchanging my students with less than real rides?” Thank you so much for being real. I am inspired by you. Thank you for lifting us all up!!! Namaste. Kimberly

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