Overcoming Objections in Cycling Class
A few weeks ago, I had a “new-to-me” rider in my class. Wearing bike shorts and shoes, she appeared to be an experienced rider but since I didn’t know her, I went over and introduced myself before getting on my own bike to begin our ride. That was when I noticed her setup: seat too low and too far forward. I knew her seat height was definitely going to impede her power, and her fore/aft position could have been a recipe for knee pain.
For her safety and comfort, I suggested an adjustment to her setup and was met with the vehement insistence that she was “fine” in that position and that another instructor had set her up this way. While that may or may not have been the case, her position was clearly incorrect.
Overcoming objections in cycling class is something we deal with frequently. In this case it was bike set-up, but there are a myriad of other situations when our participants may push back against the very things we do to keep them safe and make the class enjoyable for everyone. Knowing how to deal with them will ensure a safe, comfortable class for your participants and a less stressful experience for you.
In this two-part series, we’ll discuss some situations we’ve most often encountered in our classes and provide some great suggestions from the ICA team on how to deal with them.
When Riders Use Contraindicated Movements
We’ve all had that moment when we’re looking around the room during the ride and we see “that guy.” The one that’s riding with one hand tucked behind his back. A few minutes later he’s sitting up and pumping his arms like he’s running at a full-on sprint. If you’re lucky, you’ll be off your bike and addressing the issue before he decides that holding onto the handlebars is for amateurs and prefers to ride it “look, Ma, no hands” style.
Although this is a safety issue, plain and simple, you’re still liable to get an objection from riders when you attempt to correct. The defense is usually that some other instructor or another club coaches these moves, so they must be OK. Your approach should be straightforward. Compliment, THEN correct, and make it about him, not you. “Hi, glad you came to ride with us today. I love your energy, but I’m concerned that some of your movements aren’t safe and you could get injured. It will be safer for you if you keep your hands on the handlebars while you’re riding.”
If that doesn’t work, the next conversation should be a bit more direct: “The movements you are doing create instability and could cause you to hurt your back or fall off the bike. For your own safety, I’m going to ask that you keep your hands on the handlebars.” If this rider is bold enough to continue these movements, you are within your rights to ask him to get off his bike. While no one wants to do this, riders need to understand that as long as you are in charge of that class, their safety is your utmost concern and your primary responsibility. If you have riders who continue to flagrantly disregard your corrections, you must get your management involved.
Fans and Attire: Some Like it Hot; We Like it Safe
While we’ve all undoubtedly seen some rather scantily clad women and men in the gym, it’s rare to see anyone wearing too little clothing in cycling classes. But it’s quite possible you might encounter the opposite scenario. Many of us have had riders show up for class wearing full-on warm-up suits and on several occasions, those “sauna suits” that allegedly help the wearer lose weight.
It goes without saying that overdressing in the cycling studio is a safety issue that must be addressed. Wearing a sauna suit during exercise is never safe under any circumstances—the rider must not know that they’re putting themselves in danger. Armed with that knowledge, they’ll likely comply with your request to remove the garments in question. If not, you may want to ask that person to come back another time dressed appropriately, and let them know that management supports you in this decision.
Use of the fans seems to cause strife in so many of our classes. It’s important that we acknowledge that everyone’s body cools itself differently. Some of us sweat profusely and cool efficiently; others don’t and require some air movement to feel comfortable. At a particularly popular Sunday morning class, participants arguing over the fans was an every week occurrence. It was stressful for everyone, but we found an easy fix. We simply put up a sign up a sign that says, “If you tend to feel chilled, please choose a bike away from the fans or bring a light jacket or shirt to wear in class.” This simple solution has made Sunday mornings a lot less stressful for everyone!
In our next installment, we’ll tackle incorrect bike setup and participants wearing headphones. We’d also like to include some suggestions from our readers. What objections have you encountered in your classes?
I am one of three Indoor Cycling Instructors at my facility. I “keep it real” and avoid contraindicated movements. Other instructors at my facility will encourage backward pedaling, isolation movements, dangerously slow cadences with hands behind the back, hovers, etc. One instructor recently led what she labeled as 45 consecutive Tabatas – a contradiction in terms. What to do, without denigrating the other instructors ?
This is something I think many of us encounter at our clubs. Good on you for keeping it real! You’re leading by example. We can touch on this in our next installment.
Oops! That last sentence should have said “something firm”
One of my biggest challenges is participants skipping the cool down & stretch at the end of class. A good number head off to another class or to the gym for resistance training etc. For these I request they at least stay for the cool down but can skip the stretch (some are going to Yoga). But this is having an effect on others that are off home and a few are now skipping the stretch despite my emphasising its importance. It can be extra disappointing if you have put special thought into this segment (music, thanks, motivational message etc). I try to be firm but diplomatic. Should the club perhaps include something form (more than just advice) in the studio rules to back up instructors.
Hi, Martyn. We’ll address this in installment 2, coming soon!
These things drive me nuts!!!! As we all know a safe set-up is paramount to a successful ride and eliminates the potential for injury. I really cant count the # of times I have experienced the exact thing indicated above and sometime even worse. For the safety of your riders as well as the prevention of liability issues for your studio or gym it is essential we all nip these issues in the bud from the git-go. I look forward to your suggestions and guidance.
So, where is the first part in this 2 part series?
Lora, this is Part 1. We will follow up next week with Part 2.