How to Turn New Riders Into Your Biggest Fans, Part 1

It’s that time of year when our studios are filled with new riders. While this is always an exciting time at any health club, it presents special opportunities and challenges in the cycling studio.

Unlike many other group fitness modalities, indoor cycling can be very intimidating for newbies. How often have you heard, “I’d like to try cycling, but it looks so hard”? Or, “It looks like fun but I’d die, I’m so out of shape”?

You often have only one shot at helping a new rider feel successful on their first ride, and if you succeed you will likely have a rider for life. There’s no modality in the gym that can accommodate everyone from a deconditioned new rider to an experienced triathlete, all in the same class, as well as indoor cycling can. It’s hard for anyone who’s never taken a class to understand that, and it’s one of the main sources of reluctance to even give it a try.

We’ve gathered some tips on getting (and keeping) new riders and making them feel comfortable and accomplished right away. This sense of accomplishment will greatly increase your chances of getting them back again and again.

Our experienced ICA staffers have delved into their combined 100 years of instructor experience to compile a list of hints and tips that will help keep those “January newbies” in the saddle for the months and years to come. In part 1 of this series, we cover the small details that will make a big difference before they even turn a pedal.

Part 2 covers introduction to bike operation and riding technique, gives you inspiration to use with your new riders, and finishes with a few additional tips to make sure they not only will be happy with their first time experience with you but will be much more likely to come back.

The Right Stuff

7 Responses to “How to Turn New Riders Into Your Biggest Fans, Part 1”

  1. Joanne Swayze says:

    Check on them during class by getting off your bike and walking over to them. Ask them how they are doing( off mic) and if they are comfortable. Offer words of encouragement.

  2. MarkStrong says:

    Thanks Sara. The are some great tips here that I don’t use yet but know will make a difference. Add to the list – for all, not just newbies – some disposable wipes to clean down the bike afterwards if the gym doesn’t provide them. I’m surprised at how many gyms don’t.

  3. Christine Nielsen says:

    Two health related topics I always address with new riders – I show them where I keep apple juice and candy and I ask if they have an inhaler and, if they do, I ask them to show me where it is in their bag. It’s important info but it also establishes me as someone who cares about their welfare.

    • Sara Pomish says:

      Great idea, Christine. As a Type 1 diabetic, I always have candy in my bag in case of low blood sugar, but I would imagine it’s not something that occurs to many people. Always a good idea to have a few juice boxes or Jelly Belly candy (my personal fave for treating a low) on hand!

  4. Joe Howard says:

    some great tips , (and reminders) here ! Thanks. It’s good to “take inventory” of yourself a couple times a year,and make sure you don’t get lax about things.

  5. Randy Oliver says:

    It is also good to tell them that they don’t have to stand the whole time with the class and that they can stand when needed as long as they have enough resistance to relieve their bottom. Standing is one of the hardest things for new riders. Proper setup is essential.

    • This is so true, Randy. We cover this a little more in Part 2, but you are right, it’s an incredible challenge to newbie riders, expecially those who have never spent much tome on a bicycle. I think many instructors think that standing is such an important part of a cycling class, that everyone will get bored if they don’t stand up, even the newbies. But I’ve discovered that they actually love it when you tell them they don’t have to! You can see the relief on their faces!

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