What might Facebook’s IPO flop have to do with Spinning® instructors?

By Jennifer Sage On May 23, 2012 Under General Advice

This morning I put up a post describing 14 Spinning® / cycling instructors you want to make sure you are not. Two of the undesirable instructor-types are Sloppy Sam who wears baggy shorts, a cotton t-shirt and does not wear cycling shoes, and the other was Sexy Sadie who wears very provocative clothing and refuses to wear cycling shorts because it doesn’t show off her curvy glutes (and probably has a line-up of men with their tongues hanging out in the front row). My message was that your professionalism should dictate what kind of clothes you wear as an instructor. Your chosen outfit says something about who you are and how much you respect your audience, long before you even get on the bike. Perception is everything! Whether you like it or not, your students have made an impression about you within the first 5 seconds of seeing you.

A few years ago on my previous website I wrote an article about why I thought indoor cycling instructors should wear cycling specific clothing when they teach. I did not say that they should wear a “cycling kit” with matching shorts and jersey covered with logos, but based on some of the responses I got, you would have thought that was what I suggested. While most of the responses were positive, some of them thought I was being a “snob”. What I did say is that just like in every job, how you dress on the bike is important if you are going to be front and center and if you want your students to take you seriously. Perception is everything. It does not mean you have to wear a kit, but cycling shoes and shorts show that you recognize their importance for increased effectiveness and comfort, and your top should not be provocative or sloppy or a baggy t-shirt made of cotton that visibly soaks instantly with sweat. There are professional garments made for cardio activities that wick the sweat and help keep you cool, and give an impression that you are a professional instructor (even if you teach for free at a Y).

Think I’m off-base? Check this out…

I just saw this article on Business Insider with the following headline:

If Zuckerberg Hadn’t Worn That Hoodie At The Roadshow,
Facebook Might Not Have Plunged Like This

An analyst named Michael Pachter had suggested a few weeks ago that Mr. Zuckerberg’s sloppy dress might have a negative impact on the IPO. At the time, he was snickered at for this suggestion, but in a way he is vindicated, because the IPO has proved to be a flop. Here are Mr Pachter’s words:

The flop is 100% a function of a supply/demand imbalance. The company and its underwriters misjudged demand, and simply issued too many shares. There is no question that had this deal been 1/3 the size, the market would have absorbed it and the deal price would have held.

With that said, my comments about Mr. Zuckerberg’s attire merely pointed out that investors expect him to behave in their best interests, and are leery of investing in companies where the CEO (and controlling shareholder) has priorities that may be misaligned with their own. I felt that had Mr. Zuckerberg worn a jacket instead of a hoodie (showing them that he respected them enough to “dress up”), he would have made a statement to them that he cares about their needs, and will act in their best interest. He chose not to make that statement, and the current share price demonstrates that investors have chosen not to support Facebook shares.

All of this is iterative. Had Facebook issued 10 million shares instead of 421 million, the stock would probably be much higher. However, had Mr. Zuckerberg worn a jacket and reassured investors that he is aligned with their expectations, perhaps more people would be stepping in to buy now. He made a choice to maintain his persona as a hacker, and that has served him well with users and employees. It has not necessarily served him as well with investors.

We know that this is not a multi-billion dollar job you have, but can you see the similarity? Do you understand the power of perception? This underlying perception of Mr. Zuckerberg might possibly (probably) have had a negative impact on potential investors, who just couldn’t get past his lack of respect for investors.

We should all respect our own students enough to look professional in every way. What is your persona?

I think I’ll resurrect my article from a few years ago on ways to improve your students’ perceptions of you. It will be posted on ICA soon.





6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah Trejo
    May 23, 2012
    9:21 pm #comment-1

    Totally agree, Jennifer. One thing, however, that I have always had a tough time with is wearing cycling jerseys. They are made to be worn outside where you have wind or at least flowing air. Inside a cycling studio, they often become too warm for my taste. Thus, while I always wear cycling shorts or tri shorts (less of a chamois!), I will often select a top that is still modest but is made to wick moisture away, that doesn’t cover my shoulders and isn’t as heavy as a cycling jersey. In fact, I often wear my old tri kits because they are the most comfortable in that environment.

    Still, as an Indoor Cycling Coordinator at my club, I expect all of my instructors to dress accordingly and professionally. The club staff all have a dress code; just because we don’t fall under their dress code doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have one. First impressions are SO important and people fail to acknowledge how their dress affects people’s impressions.


  2. Jennifer Sage
    May 23, 2012
    9:48 pm #comment-2


    Thanks for your input.

    yes, some cycling jerseys are really hot. It depends on the material. I hate to say it, but sometimes it also depends on how much you spend! I guess that’s that’s often (but not always) the case with many things – quality costs more. Really good fabrics actually can be cool.

    That said, in the summer, I always wear sleeveless tops, often cycling jerseys but I’ve got my share of Lulu Lemon and other brands of fitted tanks.

    FYI, Terry makes wonderful jerseys with really good fabrics that do a good job of keeping you cool.

    Oh, and ICA members get 50% off of Terry clothing (for women)!

  3. Arnold Cantor
    May 24, 2012
    4:45 pm #comment-3

    What caught my Facebook eye was the connection to this and how many different outfits I wear just to go to work. Business casual, traditional business (Suit/tie), dress down in the office (jeans) are so specific. I do wear whatever my customers wear, so if their dress is more formal, it’s a tie that day. I agree that an IDC instructor should look like they know what they are doing, so wearing a Rolling Stones tee shirt and cargo shorts is probably not advised. I think an outdoor logo laden TdF jersey, or even the Lance yellow stuff is trying too hard.

    I have always worn the same black sleeveless tee/black cycle shorts outfit at the gym for over a decade (black does not show sweat as much, and I am always asked why I always wear black). I am so in love with UnderArmour apparel I wear it in the gym, on the golf course and out for casual wear. I find that owning 4 good pair of cycling shorts has lasted me 4 or 5 years vs. a cheap pair of gym shorts. I’ve gone from Nike dri-fit tops to UnderArmour. They actually do wash like armour and are so comfortable.

  4. Ramiro
    May 24, 2012
    5:07 pm #comment-4

    I have gotten used to riding wearing cycling clothe including the jersey. Not only I do notice a positive reaction from the new faces in the room, but I also find it useful. I place the mic transmitter in the back pocket of the jersey. I got into wearing the cycling outfit because I simply appreciated every time I rode with a master instructor who looked like a cyclist. Looks can be deceiving, but when combined with good knowledge and everything else a good instructor can bring into the indoor cycling experience, that look becomes a powerful visual effect. It transfers energy all around … it keeps it real!

  5. Darlene
    May 26, 2012
    3:18 am #comment-5

    Bravo, Jennifer. I agree with you 100%. And thank you for the article written by Michael Pachter;I did catch another article online about its stock value, but did not know about this one. It most definitely supports your thoughts/theory about respect for oneself and others (and in our case,in the cycle room or ‘spin studio’). If you look at the professional cyclists’ attire all are very elegant looking and never sloppy. At least make an effort to wear clean-looking athletic clothes designed for a gym workout. There are so many great brands and choices! You never have to look frumpy,
    sloppy or too “Sadie-ish”, either (yes, guys – I can understand why you fight over that front row!) 😀

    Great work, Jennifer! Miss you. Are you coming back to California?

  6. Jennifer Sage
    May 26, 2012
    8:06 pm #comment-6

    Great comments!
    Dalrene, good to hear from you. So much has happened since I saw you in CA 15 months ago. It was only 3 weeks after that that I left ICI (someday I’ll tell you why over a glass of wine!) and ICA is rocking and rolling now – the #1 educational resource for indoor cycling instructors anywhere! I’ll let you know when I come back to California for any workshops. I will be in San Diego for IDEA in July, but it will be non-stop stuck indoors!
    Hope to see you again,

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