The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss for the Indoor Cycling Instructor

Most of us would agree that Dr. Seuss rocks. I’ve always had a thing for the profound lessons of Dr. Seuss. I loved the books as a child, I love them as an adult. The brilliance of his wisdom is not limited to any particular age, and can be applied across all aspects of our lives, our work, our relationships, our families, our play.

What can we as indoor cycling instructors learn from his words? Here are a few of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes and how we might apply them to what we do in our classes, with our students, and in our way of thinking in our role as a coach and a fitness professional:

 

1. “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Sometimes we think too hard about something, especially as new instructors. You’ve got to start somewhere; just dig in, allow yourself to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. A good example is creating profiles; sometimes the best ones are the simplest ones, not the ones with constant changes.

2. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

How much do you educate yourself? What we are doing is not rocket science…but it is exercise science. Read and learn and listen and engage and find mentors and go to workshops and master classes. Take it all in!

The Indoor Cycling Association is the best resource for day-in-day-out education on everything a cycling instructor needs to know.

When you keep learning…oh, the places you’ll go!

3. “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So…get on your way!”

Don’t wait. Start now. Your greatness is waiting for you! Take that step to grow into your magnificence.

Photo credit Emma Matthews via Unsplash.

4. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

It seems these days that the current media-driven and celebrity-driven trends in our industry for super high-intensity, no pain no gain, crazy circus moves on a bike are more about ego than anything else. Instructors want to be known as the hardest one with the most creative combination of choreography. Stand away from that crowd! Stand out with proven, science-based cycling techniques that bring results, not injuries. Let your personality, your coaching, and your creative use of music be what distinguishes you from the rest. You were born to have an impact; this is what will ultimately get you there.

Instructor Juliette Underill

5. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

It’s your choice. Go with what you know intuitively to be correct. It’s the science that always wins in the end. Trends will come and go. You know what you know…steer yourself in the right direction. And, if you know that you do not know (quite yet) everything you need to know to deliver the quality classes based on proper technique, to answer all of your students’ questions confidently (on heart rate, burning calories, aerobic training, HIIT, “real” Tabata, teaching with power, etc.), or to motivate your students using inspirational coaching to enhance their mental strength, then do as the good doctor says and steer yourself in that direction to gain the education that will give it to you. (We have some ideas how to do that!)

Also remember that we continue to learn from our own interactions with our students.

6. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Did you ever have to leave one club/studio and were unhappy about it? Remember everything you learned from that experience…it’s brought you to where you are now. Our entire future depends on our attitudes about what has happened to us. Make yours a bright one!

7. “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

Aren’t your students lucky they have you? Remind yourself of that today!

Instructor Marion Daniel

8. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter!”

Have you ever lacked the confidence to use certain inspirational coaching techniques because you think your students might think less of you, or that they might prefer an instructor who yells at everyone, or some other unfounded fear that we convince ourselves about?

Break out of that mindset and allow your coaching light to shine. Be your authentic self in everything you do! 

9. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Does everyone in your class get your attention equally? Do you take the steps to remember names, to make new students feel welcome, to inspire everyone in the room?

Do you remember what it was like to be a new instructor and lend a helping hand or some helpful tips to the new instructor at your club?

10. “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Isn’t this one of the amazing things about what we do on stationary bikes that go nowhere? We get to empower our students and have fun…then come back and do it again, and again, and again! It’s up to you to get them hooked so they keep coming back. (We can help you do that at ICA!)

Tammar Berger riders

OffRoad Cycling Studio, Washington, D.C.

11. “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

If it hasn’t happened already, there will come a day when the stereo doesn’t work, the mic dies, your Spotify or Apple Music malfunctions, or some other unfortunate incident occurs. You will have to improvise. How you handle these “bang-ups and hang-ups” can define who you are. It can leave more students impressed with how you handled the situation than perhaps even your most awesome profile might.

Handle these events with grace, humor, and acceptance of the challenge, and you’ll always, always come out better than had it never happened…and then do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen again! 😉

12. “It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

It is surprising how many fitness professionals think that they “know” it all already; that they don’t need to learn more. You know those people too. Don’t be one of them!

13. “Oh the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”

Exercise science is an ever-changing field, and we know a lot more today than we did 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Don’t be the one who continues to use the terms “lactic acid” or “percent of maximum heart rate” or “ride at 65% to burn fat,” or who believes that only high-intensity classes should be on your schedule. The science-of-training train left that station a long time ago. Run after it!

14. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

This is one of my favorites Dr. Seuss quotes. Make an effort to step out of your own comfort zone today. Expand your horizons, do something new. Are you afraid to take the time to learn about power training because (you think) it’s hard or complicated? Are you the type of instructor who prefers to teach only interval classes because 1) they’re easiest to teach and 2) you think that’s what everyone wants? That’s a bit like going into the weight room and only ever working your biceps and chest.

Oh the things you can think up if only you try!

And I’m not talking about thinking up “new” moves on the bike…that’s actually the lazy way out. It’s easy and lazy to do a push-up on a bike; it fills the time with nonsensical movement without you having to create meaningful coaching. Same thing with lifting small weights on a bike or constantly moving in and out of the saddle.

No, I’m talking about exploring the wide range of possibilities with cycling-specific training techniques that can tease out amazing performance and results from your students without increasing the risk of injury. I’m talking about creative programming, or theme rides, or drills, or Tour de France profiles, or incentives to get your students to come more often. How about learning more about power training, or even pretending you have power when you teach? Even if you don’t (yet) have bikes with power, understanding power is foundational knowledge about effort and intensity that helps every instructor, even on bikes with no metrics. 

15. “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.”

Dr. Seuss was so passionate about inspiring people to use their minds! This quote is a continuation of the previous one. Many of you reading this would not dare consider adding contraindicated moves to your rides, even if your students asked for them because they saw it on YouTube, or took a class in a boutique studio that was filled with them, or another instructor asked them to do something you know is unsafe or ineffective.

But some instructors might be wondering if they should sprinkle their classes with them…after all, that one instructor at the gym does them and her classes are full.  

Think! Why are you here? Why are you so passionate about helping your students reach their fitness goals?

Wonder! Are you intrigued by some of those “popular” moves that some boutique studios are still promoting? Wonder so hard that you go to the studio by yourself and try them out…do some “alleged” push-ups while sitting upright on the bike, then get on the floor and do some REAL push-ups to feel the difference. Then try some crunches while riding, followed by some REAL crunches on the floor, proper ones that oppose gravity instead of moving in the direction of gravity. Then go into the gym and grab some dumbbells that are about 50%–60% of your 1RM (repetition maximum) for a biceps curl, and start curling until you fatigue in only 10–12 reps. Then let the revelation and wisdom in your brain sink in deeply until you say, “Wow, there IS a mountain of difference between each of those! What a waste to do those things on the bike!” Then go back to the stationary bike and ride with proper resistance and cadence and give your riders a fabulous, beneficial, appropriate, and fun workout.

Wonder so intensely that you grab your road bike (or borrow one if you don’t have one) and try riding 5 miles outside with your abs sucked in the whole time. You won’t make it a mile before the lightbulb goes off and you say in Dr. Seuss fashion, “OH, NOW I SEE WHY THAT’S UNWISE!!”

And while you’re on that bike, try pedaling without stopping while jumping up and down aggressively or while pushing your butt back in a “hover” or while freezing all the upper body muscles while you lower yourself into a squat while standing and pedaling. Yup, the ole doctor would be proud of you for your ability to think and wonder and find the answers for yourself on how ineffective these techniques are, not just on a real bike but also on a stationary bike.

16. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Our beautiful industry that we are so passionate about has taken a credibility hit in the last few years. Oh sure, the celebrity- and media-fueled studios teaching those contraindicated techniques that go against the teachings of every single reputable certifying agency are making all the headlines and filling the seats for the moment. Fitness trends will die, especially ones that aren’t based on science. The foundation of cycling that brings true results will never die, especially if we stand together and raise the Keep it Real banner.

We all need to care a whole lot, or it will not get better. It will not.

17. “And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”

I firmly believe this. We can all succeed if we stand together! Educate yourselves. Educate your students. Educate your club and studio owners.

Education is the antidote to misinformation.

18. “How did it get so late so soon? My goodness, how the time has flown.”

Do you stay up late putting together your profiles or mixing music into the wee hours of the morning? Me too! (We can reduce that amount you spend, though, with our hundreds of vetted profiles. We even give you a suggested schedule of two classes per week to help your decision-making process and save you tons of time.)

…or I stay up late writing articles like this or researching articles or music to inspire our ICA members. 😉

Photo credit Eugene Chystiakov via Unsplash.

Remember, ICA saves our members tons of time with our great profiles, inspirational cueing and coaching, in-depth articles on exercise physiology and biomechanics, proven cycling techniques, teaching with power, entertaining theme rides, and, of course, incredible music suggestions!

Click here to learn more about joining the Indoor Cycling Association so you can take your class design and coaching skills to a whole new level and change even more lives in your cycling studio.

 

10 Responses to “The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss for the Indoor Cycling Instructor”

  1. Tara Cooler says:

    I can not wait to use my Dr. Seuss inspired class profile!

  2. Valerie says:

    Thanks for keeping it simple!

  3. John Ferro says:

    Fantastic article Jen!!! This article is a lot more interesting and helpful than the latest gossip about what studio is banning instructors from its “classes”.

  4. @Karen, wow that sounds awesome! Maybe you and Pam can do it as an audio Master Class!

  5. Anthony Orlandi says:

    I am printing this out and putting it on my fridge!

  6. Karen says:

    Pam Blum (Mad Dogg Master Instructor) and I created an entire ride based on “Oh the Places You Can Go.” Duel instructor-led: I gave limited coaching, Pam read only the lines from the book. It was absolutely awesome and an instant favorite for our riders. If I say so myself, the music we selected and the timing of Pam’s reading was crazy powerful and transformed this “children’s book” into a soul-searching adventure.

  7. Ryan Bardes says:

    Beautiful and true

  8. Angelia Joslyn says:

    This was fabulous! Jennifer – you are truly a prolific writer!!

  9. Carol King says:

    Jennifer, this was AWESOME!

  10. denise says:

    Awesome thanks

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