Developing Your Style as an Indoor Cycling Coach, Part 1

Whether you are a brand new, recently certified instructor or you have a few years under your belt, developing your style as a cycling instructor is an important component of what you do at the front of your studio. Two of the most important characteristics in developing your coaching style is knowledge of your sport/activity and motivation/inspiration.

Good indoor cycling instructors are always seeking to increase their knowledge. There is no substitute for knowing the science and technical skills behind what you do. Instructors can improve this aspect of their coaching by reading books, attending conferences and workshops, and by joining an organization such as the Indoor Cycling Association.

You can have all the skills and knowledge in the world about your sport/activity, however this doesn’t mean much if you cannot impart that knowledge in a meaningful way or if you fail to motivate and inspire your students to go beyond their self-perceived limitations. Barking out orders in a boot camp manner is certainly one style of teaching, but moving beyond this harsh method will impact a far greater number of students. When you coach from a place of compassion and empathy, your students will achieve greater success in accomplishing their fitness goals. Additionally, the mental strength that you have taught them extends beyond the cycling studio walls. They can take what they learned about commitment and focus in your classes and apply it to other areas of their life, whereas boot camp–style commands do not effectively translate to personal growth.

This two-part series on developing your style will focus on how to become a more empathic and inspirational coach. The good news is that since you are an ICA member, you already have the keys to increasing your knowledge of cycling science, technique, and the practical aspects of being a good indoor cycling coach. This series will focus on the more mental and inspirational side of coaching and how to overcome the fear of being the empowering mentor you aspire to be.

Yes, it can be scary.

Personally, I don’t think instructors have the right to call themselves a “coach” until they have gone through the steps that will be laid out in this series. 

6 Responses to “Developing Your Style as an Indoor Cycling Coach, Part 1”

  1. MoniqueSparks says:

    I love this article and cannot wait to read part two! I am not new to instructing, but this ‘authentic connection’ is probably the most difficult piece of the puzzle for me to fit in. Like the former you, I find myself trying to channel those instructors who are so incredibly inspiring, yet their words aren’t always authentic to me…I will continue to search deeper for the motivating teacher I know I am…she’s in there!

  2. Bill Roach says:

    Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your personal story so honestly. I hope it helps instructors, especially new instructors, understand the importance of finding your instructor voice. It is not easy but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Wonderful article from the guru.

  3. Melinda Massie says:

    What a great article, Jennifer! My mentor told me to “find my own voice,” and it took a while and it’s changed over the years as I’ve grown as an instructor (thanks mostly to ICA), but I still carry that thought with me. Your article gives people a road map to personally keeping it real.

    • thank you Melinda!

      I love sharing this story, as I think/hope it will inspire other instructors to seek mentors and sources to expand their cueing and coaching. That truly is the best way to find out what style works best with you, especially when it’s one that impacts more people!

  4. Thanks Sandra. Yes, it is quite rare but the science crowded out the art. It’s probably why I failed in art school (well…not “failed” per se, but struggled)! Oh, I could draw. I could make an exact replica of almost anything I looked at (horses and wild animals were my favorite things to draw as a child). But when art professors wanted abstract, I couldn’t deliver. Color field, no way. I remember crying in my dorm room because I couldn’t do what they were asking!
    I loved studying the body though. =)

  5. Sandra Ballardini says:

    Thanks Jennifer. Well said. And what talent you have. Having two daughters that are BFA’s grads I appreciate you came from a completely different direction. Ususally art and science minds are a rare combination!

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