5 Common Bad Habits #Indoorcycling Riders Slip Into

As instructors, we often see the same riders in every class. Some have been loyal for several years, with flawless attendance records. Some riders come and go. However, whether you are a new rider, a veteran one or an occasional rider, you may have formed one of these common bad habits. Not to fear, breaking out of such habits is relatively easy.  Here’s how:


You Are Not Setting Objectives

As noted in a previous post on SMART goals, it is absolutely critical that you arrive at each ride with a pre-defined intention to achieve a specific goal or tackle a specific challenge. Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted goals (S.M.A.R.T). This does not have to be a complicated effort; simply set your mind to exceed last week’s numbers or to reach a specific goal for watts expended, distance covered or KCALs used. Which leads me to my second issue: not keeping track.



You Are Not Keeping Track (Progress Not Perfection)progress

You must attempt to keep track of your progress for each class. If the bike is not Bluetooth compatible or if you are not using a wearable fitness device, write down your numbers per each class. It is critical that you establish a baseline in order to uncover progress towards a goal. It is also equally important to monitor your numbers so that you can identify where problems my exist and where you have “plateaued”. If you are using an app or if your studio provides such capabilities (IQniter, Performance IQ, MyZone, etc.) then that takes the guess work out of keeping track of your performance. If not, create a simple spreadsheet, then, at the end of each class, take a snapshot of your power meter using your mobile phone and update the worksheet. If your bikes don’t offer power meters, try using an HRM watch with a chest strap to monitor your heart’s rate and other vital statistics.


You Fall Into Poor Technique

It is easy to slack off, especially when others are doing it. Sometimes, you may find yourself sprinting at high cadence with little resistance. Or, there are times when you slump over the handlebars, in a strange aero position, just to finish the ride. I understand that we all have off days. The issue is essentially related to the discipline of maintaining good posture, good form and good “power-to-resistance” ratio in order to maximize the benefits of your workout. Simply put, if others are doing it, you should not. After all, you have been doing this for a while and some riders can learn a thing or two from you!!


hsYou Are Not Learning About Your Body

The only way to substantially improve any workout is to know more about your physiology, basic muscle groups, important fitness metrics and nutrition essentials. For example, learn about the Quadriceps Muscles making up the front of the thighs. This leg muscle group is popular – it’s what most people think of when they hear “leg anatomy.” This  group consists of four individual muscles: Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius and Vastus Medialis. Then learn about the Hamstring Muscles.  Additional muscle groups include the Hip Flexors & Iliopsoas, Hip Adductors and Gluteal Muscles. You owe it to yourself to not only learn the names and functions of important muscle group, but to also know their interaction, relationship to power output and to a certain degree, causes of injury or pain (previous posts on IT Band Syndrome, VMOPFPS….).


"Priorities" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.You Reassign Priorities

It is important to schedule and prioritize your workout routines. Once scheduled, they become a staple of your calendar. Additionally, once you are committed and disciplined to the concept of investing in  your health, rescheduling or skipping a class becomes less of a challenge. Life is full of surprises and there are times when you have to miss a class or two. That’s understandable. My recommendation is to ensure that your emotional support systems (your family and then your friends) fully understand your desire to attend indoor cycling classes as a way to remain fit, strong and healthy. Once they are clear on your vision, there will be less excuses to skip a class. Without the emotional support system, the slightest of inconveniences or challenges will immediately relegate your spin class to a non-priority.


In a world of never-ending to-do lists and constant demand, never lose sight of the fact that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. Refocus your priorities, learn more about your body and recommit to your goals. See you in class!!








#Indoorcycling Instructor Retention: 10 Steps to Keep The Best!

CEO: What if we train our employees and they leave?
HR Manager: What if we don’t and they stay?

how_employee_retention_saves_you_moneyWe have often heard that the cost of customer acquisition far outweighs the cost of keeping existing customers. The fitness industry is no different: high turnover of membership as well as a constant struggle to recruit and retain high caliber instructors are common themes. Many studio owners/operators often neglect the primary reason for their success: their instructors. I write this post due to my frustration with my current work at a New York-based indoor cycling studio where, for the past 4 years, not a single dollar has been invested in offering continuing education, CPR training, team building or certification workshops to the instructors.

While I understand that one of the many challenges an indoor cycling studio faces is its operating expenses (including payroll), neglecting your instructors will ultimately lead to their departure. For many studios, as well as larger fitness facilities, the instructors play a critical role in customer retention. Rock star instructors keep classes full, ensure consistency in coaching delivery, build persistent excitement and lend credibility to their workplace. However, not offering the most basic of incentives is something you should seriously reconsider. For example, the studio owner balked at the cost of hosting a CPR/AED certification for the 8 indoor cycling instructors. We were forced to attend the workshop on our own and pay for it individually. Yet again, the owner refused to invest in a certification workshop for new bikes with Bluetooth technology. And, we were never offered any financial assistance when attending industry conferences or continuing education classes.

Some of my readers will probably think that the employer has no obligation to us beyond a paycheck.retention I disagree. It is a good business practice to invest in your workforce – not “spend” but invest. When you do not, the only thing keeping me there is the paycheck. If another studio offers a higher pay, guess what? I will likely leave. By investing in your instructors, you are fostering a relationship of mutual growth, loyalty and dedication. This will set you apart from the competition, even though they may have newer bikes, a more glamorous studio or a national chain supporting them.

Moreover, to dispel your fears if you are a studio owner/operator, the investments I am referring to above range between $50 to $100 a year per instructor. So, for a team of 8 instructors, the “investment” would be about $800 (or less) for the entire year. I will further explain below using examples of what you can do to retain the best indoor cycling instructors for your studio:

1.      Pay for CPR/AED certification: This is imperative. Instructors with no current CPR/AED are a liability that you cannot afford. The average cost is about $50 per instructor and needs to be done every two years.

2.      Share the cost of continuing education classes or conferences: Many of us would greatly benefit from attending a workshop on using power meters, new techniques in group fitness training or related indoor cycling/spinning training classes. Most of these classes are conducted online at less than $75 each.

3.      Share the cost of certification: For many of us, we may need to recertify or obtain new certifications. Why not help by sharing 50% of the cost? For example, recertifying with Mad Dogg Athletics is about $199 every two years. That translates into $50 per instructor per year (the other $50 paid by the instructor). Other platforms like Schwinn or Real Ryder do not require recertification, so there is no additional cost.

4.      Host a team building workshop: This can be done at a very low cost. Once a year, invite all of your indoor cycling instructors to a 2 or 3 hours’ workshop to share experiences, ideas and suggestions. The cost: a couple of pizza pies. If you are an adventurous studio owner, invite an exercise physiologist or Master Instructor to speak to your team and help expand their knowledgebase. Appearance fees vary, but a local expert will typical charge less than a national expert.

5.      Recognize & promote your instructors: An “Instructor of the Month” award goes a long way to establishret good will. The cost: a $10 gift card or voucher for a meal at a nearby restaurant. Promote this award on social media and on the studio’s website.

6.      Establish a performance pay system: Some studios are starting to reward instructors using the “BIS” model (butt in seat). The more attendance you can garner, the higher the reward. For example, if a 50 bike studio is filled to capacity during a certain class/time, you can add $0.10 per bike to that instructor’s pay rate for a total of $5. It is not a lot of money, but it does create a “reward/benefit” approach that several studios are using to retain instructors.

7.      Leverage your instructors’ other talents: Many instructors excel at creative writing which you can put to good use for your studio’s blog. Others are avid cooks, who can share a recipe or two for that blog. Even others are social media /SEO savvy and can promote the studio in very low cost ways. By harnessing these talents, you can monetize the advantage of the human element. A small $10 reward (monthly) for each blog entry will add a new dimension to the retention of that instructor.

8.      Go beyond: This is no-to-low cost. Many instructors would gladly volunteer an hour or two per month to help you host a charitable ride or an event for your local community. There is a level of pride that we all feel when we selflessly give of our time and treasure. By making your studio a community beacon, that sense of pride will transcend the paycheck.

9.      Recognize tenure: Some of your instructors may have worked with you for 5, 6 or more years. Is it acceptable that you still pay them the same rate as the instructor who just started? These tenured instructors are a special breed. Treat them as such without breaking the bank….how about a small raise (3-5%) for every year of service?

10.  Invest in technology/studio: Instructors love it when the stereo equipment is functioning properly, the bikes are in great working condition, the facility is clean and well maintained. It is not just you who looks bad when things are broken – we do too. We appreciate it so much when everything works!!

motivateI believe that for indoor cycling studios owners/operators to succeed, they must differentiate their compensation models to encompass a combination of creative as well as traditional methods. Sometimes, even if a raise is not feasible, instructors will continue to give their best as long as their basics are met: working bikes, functioning stereo, a simple thank you once in a while. Without the basics, there is little left to retain us. And, with the competition heating up, you are faced with important decisions to make. Please remember that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A simple gesture such as picking up the cost of a CPR class or a thank you note is sometimes all we need.



1.      http://clubindustry.com/human-resources/health-club-operators-face-retention-challenge-millennial-employees

2.      https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-cost-customer-acquisition-vs-retention-ian-kingwill

3.      https://www.zanebenefits.com/blog/bid/312123/employee-retention-the-real-cost-of-losing-an-employee


Note: For those instructors who work full time, you may already receive additional healthcare benefits, life insurance, child care reimbursement, etc. This post is mainly targeted at instructors who are paid hourly.




You’re not everyone’s cup of tea–and that’s OK. 6 Strategies, for #indoorcycling instructors, to build a resilient character

It’s a well-known fact that you can’t please everyone. If you try, you will certainly fail. That’s why seeking approval of others is a futile endeavor. This post, perhaps controversial to some, is the result of a personal observation that many indoor cycling instructors can relate to, especially when they are subbing for other instructors.

Last week, I subbed five classes for a fellow instructor who is recovering from shoulder surgery. I have never subbed for this particular instructor, so I asked her about the audience’s demographic and what she liked to do. By attempting to learn more about the riders, I could prepare an appropriate routine with specific drills and companion playlists. In three of the five classes, I witnessed 3 or 4 riders who were in the studio already on the bikes before I arrived, see that I was subbing, get off their bikes and immediately walk out. As they walked out, they turned around and gave me “the look” as if to voice their disapproval and dismay that the regular instructor was not present.question

After several years of teaching indoor cycling classes, this is the one and only rider behavior that I just cannot understand. You’ve already made the trip to the studio, planned your time, paid for the ride, and are ready to work out. Now, you just get up and leave – what gives? You haven’t even seen my routine. I would understand if you leave during the ride because you didn’t like the music or drills, but leaving even before giving me a chance? 

Iteat turns out that this statement – “giving me a chance” – is where I am wrong. It really is not about giving me a chance. It is about me no taking this personally and allowing for the simple possibility that, as an instructor, you are simply not everyone’s cup of tea, even before they take the first sip. So, going back to my original premise that we can’t please everyone, instead, we should focus on pleasing ourselves. Selfish you say? Perhaps, but allow me first to make a good argument by sharing my six strategies of building your character instead of seeking approval from others.

1. Find your unique style and wear it like a badge of honor
Whether its music, choice of drills, your kit, the way you cut your hair or your coaching cues – those are the hallmarks of your character. You have developed this character through years of learning, training, workshops, certifications and a passion to inspire others. If any of this bothers someone to the point of leaving your class, so be it.

2. Embrace the unknown
When subbing, it sometimes feels like you are teaching your first class. This is an opportunity to embrace the ride and riders as you do with regular classes. Show the same passion, energy and spirit. And, for regular classes, do not be afraid to incorporate new drills, inject new routines into your classes, adapt non-indoor cycling workouts to your indoor cycling classes (keeping safety and function in mind) and find new ways to be a better motivator. Leaving the stale and ordinary is the only way to get to the extraordinary.

3. Be inclusive
For those who decide to leave (like what happened when I subbed), let them leave. Focus instead on those who stayed and make them feel that their commitment to fitness will always come first. 

4. Be humble. Be gracious. Be respectful
For those who decide to attend, show your humility, say “thank you”, express gratitude at the chance to sub and be part of their fitness journey, and never miss an opportunity to give a sincere compliment. 

5. Do the right thing
We’ve seen too many instructors using far too many contraindicated moves, from insane cadence with no resistance, to borderline dangerous moves. I am not going to do that, in my regular classes or as a sub. If you don’t like my routine because I do not do the crazy stuff your regular instructor does, then that’s ok. I’d rather that you be safe than sorry.

6. Be confident, not arrogant
Riders who leave the class when you sub may have other reasons than not liking you. It could be that some may feel uncomfortable with the substitute, fearing an instructor who may push them beyond the routine they are used to. To some, that’s reason enough to leave. For you, remain confident in your ability to deliver a powerful class. Show your self-assurance, but avoid any  disparaging comments towards the riders who left. Confidence gives elegance to your delivery.


approveAs indoor cycling coaches and instructors, we all want to know that we’re making a difference. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on staying in favor with yourself and not to seek the approval of others.






7 Things #IndoorCycling Instructors Do to Stay In the Game

To many riders, the instructor’s style, music, routine/drills, inspirational capability and
consistency are some of the factors that create a loyal following. While the above factors are critical to an instructor’s success, there are several other factors, albeit not as prominent, that play an equally important role in what makes for a phenomenal instructor.


1. We Work Out Almost Daily & We Love The Variety

f1You’re probably wondering – well isn’t teaching the class a workout? Of course, it is. But we also workout separately to target different muscle groups, build endurance and stay motivated. A very important aspect of this is that we vary our workout routines. Many of us participate in yoga classes, strength conditioning, swimming, kick boxing and much more. Variety is essential to developing adaptive skills for coaching indoor cycling. Moreover, participating in other workout formats allows us to learn more and better understand exercise physiology and body mechanics.

2. We Take Classes

We also attend other instructors’ classes where there are opportunities to learn about new formats or variations. Trying new forms of exercise has many benefits and helps us in our quest to stay current and aware of industry trends even if we do not teach specific formats.

3. We Train For Competitions

f3Whether it’s a century ride, a charitable event, a triathlon, a marathon, a Spartan race, a Sufferfest, a Color Run or whatever….we usually work such competitions into our yearly routine. We do it as part of the competitive spirit.  Being part of an outdoor competition teaches you so much more about specific challenges such as seated climbs and pursuits that would be beneficial to building an indoor cycling routine.

4. We Do Our Best To Eat Healthy

f2Sometimes, there is no time to work out. Eating healthy becomes and remains a priority. When dining out, having lunch at the office or while traveling, we are more attuned to our nutritional needs. Avoiding junk and fast foods is a constant struggle, especially when pressed for time or when having a stressful job. That’s one of the many reasons why most of us pack healthy snacks and plenty of water wherever we go. Even when on vacation, eating sensibly and healthy is simply a habit

5. We Rest, Recover & Take Vacations

f4Our bodies take a lot of abuse. Recovery, especially after difficult competitions, is essential. Rest, recuperation and short vacations are antidotes to fatigue, loss of motivation or when you just need a break. And, yes, plenty of research goes into planning a vacation to find the healthier places to eat or to shop.

6. We Never Stop Learning

Whether we are attending a re-certification workshop, renewing our CPR/AED certification, obtaining a new certification, attending an industry conference, participating in continuing education workshops, or interacting with fellow instructors, we are in a continuous learning mode.

7. We Ask For Feedback

I recently designed a survey aimed at collecting feedback about my routine as well as the overall indoor cycling program at a facility where I teach. The goal is what I call 360 feedback – it is the only way to hear the voice of the customer, incorporate changes, adapt to new trends, introduce a competitive edge and make the customer part of the constant improvement cycle


Please share with me any additional ways you use to stay in the game. In the meantime, #RideOn.




#indoorcyling & 360 Feedback: Instructor Evaluations in 12 steps

“360 Degree Feedback is a system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. This typically includes the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports.”

Feedback is critical to the success of an indoor cycling program or studio. Collecting feedback from class participants can be done using online tools such as SurveyMonkey. Surveys can be targeted to focus on instructor performance, studio performance or other areas where improvement is needed. Results should be collected anonymously. Additionally, when using surveys, ensure that you obtain as many results as possible over a specific period of time (such as 3, 6, or 9 month intervals).

Below is a sample survey, comprised of 12 steps in which data is collected.

  1. Did the instructor greet you? Make you feel welcome?
  • YES
  • NO
  • Comments:

2. Did the instructor help you set up your bike?

  • YES
  • NO
  • Not needed
  • Comments:

3. Overall, how challenging was the class?

  • Very challenging
  • Somewhat challenging
  • Not challenging

4. How would you describe the mood or energy the instructor brought to class?

  • Upbeat, high energy
  • Flat and uninspired
  • Over the top, frenzied

5. Did the instructor keep you motivated during the class?

  • YES
  • NO
  • Room for improvement
  • Comments:

6. Overall, how satisfied are you with this instructor?

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Somewhat satisfied
  • Not satisfied

7. Are you likely to recommend this instructor’s class to a friend?

  • YES
  • NO
  • Maybe

8. How was the music?

  • Loved it
  • It was OK
  • Hated it
  • Comments:

9. Please tell us about this instructor’s strengths:

10. Please tell us what this instructor can improve upon:

11. Any additional suggestions or comments about your experience are greatly appreciated:

12. Your email address (optional):

5 Things Your #IndoorCycling Instructor Wishes You Knew

As instructors, we encounter many types of riders in our classes: the regulars, the late ones, the early ones, the whole family and on occasion, some very interesting characters. So, as a riders, have you ever wondered what we think of you. Well, wonder no more!! Here are the secrets, revealed:

1. Come Ready, Willing & Able

When you arrive for class (hopefully you are not late), bring a positive, can-do attitude. You may be having a rough day, or you may have a lot on your to-do list. But for the next 45-60minutes, we want you to focus on you. Yes, be selfish for just a short while. After all, you will take care of “you” because no one else. Also, be open to my suggestions and cues. Listen and do what is possible. And if you can’t, there will be a next time. We appreciate your hard work and we even appreciate it more that you try. We are, after all, your biggest cheerleaders.

2. Come With Goals in Mind

While we appreciate that you are attending, we want this to be part of a bigger picture and a bigger journey. Set goals for yourself such as conquering that seated climb that you couldn’t finish in the previous class; or, increase your baseline intensity so that you can exceed what you could be self-imposed limitations. And, when you feel that you are not sure, let us help you. We can show you how to set these goals, how to track your progress, how to use RPE and the bike’s computer and we can be your “accountability partner”: the one who keeps you focused and on track.

3. Be Part of the Ride, or Don’t Be. Just Be. We understand.

I had a rider who attended on regular basis, sits in the back of the room and simply rides in the seated position for the entire class. While I don’t target riders individually using open mic, I wondered why she wouldn’t climb or participate in the drills. So I approached her after class. It turns out that she cares of a disabled child at home which requires an inordinate amount of dedication and effort. She told me that indoor cycling is her escape. It is the time when she can reconnect and feel peaceful, albeit for just an hour. I get it. That is one of the many reasons why I do not make assumptions. As long as the riders isn’t doing some contraindicated moves or endangering fellow riders, I will let them be.

4. Talk to Me

Many riders jump on the bike without proper setup. Many riders ride with improper posture or execute drills in an unsafe way. I always try to correct them (I dismount and approach them individually). If it doesn’t feel right or if you need help, please let me know. If you are not sure about something – the power meter, the handlebar position, my instructions, whatever – just talk to me. Do not be afraid or embarrassed. We are here to help. Also, if you have other feedback, complaint or compliment, we are all ears!!

5. We Care

After teaching for several years, my care and dedication never diminishes. I am part of your journey., When I see you beginning to believe in yourself, conquering these hills and seated climbs, pushing harder than the last time and overcoming the challenges, I feel immensely proud. This deep sense of accomplishment is a shared one. No matter your age, skill, abilities or desire – when I see that fire get lit up inside of your heart, I know you are on your way to a stronger body and mind.





Should I Stay or Should I Go? 5 Reasons For (Staying or) Leaving An #Indoorcycling Studio

Over the past six months, my Tuesday evening indoor cycling class attendance started to gradually decrease. While at first, I attributed the drop in numbers to occasional members leaving due to lifestyle changes (family obligations, work-related travel, etc.), what was alarming was the loss of some of my core group. It took me about nine months to build the core group; selling out classes was an afterthought once the core group was established.crossroads3-1.jpg


The Core Group

This special group of dedicated riders exhibits a behavior that creates the nucleus of an indoor cycling class: loyalty to the time slot, always there, always there early and more importantly, the core group acts as jumping platform for recruiting new members who see a full class and who are encouraged to attend when they talk to members of the core group. Much like in traditional businesses, losing a loyal customer has a deeper impact than losing the occasional customer. When a loyal customer leaves, their seat takes much longer to fill. The nucleus is weakened and as a result the entire class suffers.


Should I Stay? Should I Go?

The more I thought about the decision, the more I thought about the song (The Clash) with these lyrics:

“This indecision's buggin' me 

If you don't want me, set me free 

Exactly whom I'm supposed to be 

Don't you know which clothes even fit me? 

Come on and let me know 

Should I cool it or should I blow? “

This also got me to reflect on the reasons and ultimately, am I better off if I stay or if I go? Today, I am making the decision to go – here’s why:


5 Reasons For Staying or Leaving An #Indoorcycling Studio


Self-Doubt: Don’t Even Go There

That was the first thing I thought about. Is it me? Is it my music? Is it my routine? It was none of the above. I knew I sell out classes at other studios. I have the breadth and depth of experience, expertise and skill. Qualities such as leadership, compassion, customer service, modesty, athleticism and being a former DJ are evident and abundant in my character. I also receive consistently positive feedback from members and other instructors. I vary my routine constantly. I curate hundreds of playlists based on the demographic and age group of the members. I ask them for suggestions and I provide what they ask for. It wasn’t me.


Loyalty To The Remaining Members/Core Group Is Ineffective

When the core group members started to quit, it was an early warning sign. The group numbered around 20 in November of last year (the class capacity is 32). Over the past 6-7 months, the core group was at 8 members. I learned that many have left because the facility increased its membership rates, ride prices and some poorly designed credit card auto-billing system. Additionally, the remaining seats were not being filled regularly. The class started to appear half-full. Less new members were inclined to join a class. And, on average, it takes a good 6 months to establish a core rider. Therefore, the dilemma was: should I stay and try to rebuild the core group or should I recognize that this class/timeslot is reaching it natural conclusion? Please note that I have been teaching that particular timeslot of about 3.5 years.


There Isn’t Much “More” Than I Can Do

I constantly promote the studio on social media outlets. I help out at the studio during open house days (at no pay), street fairs/exhibits and have subbed other instructors countless times. In fact, I have never, in 3.5 years, missed a class or arrived late to a class. I write blog entries for the studio’s e-newsletter and have mentored junior instructors. I like to think that these efforts have contributed to recruiting new members as well as helped retain existing ones. However, I do not believe there is more that I can do to increase attendance given the amount of time I dedicated to non-indoor cycling activities (namely promoting the studio).


Management Isn’t Helping

So I approached management about the decrease in attendance. I asked if the studio is attempting to recruit new members or if the studio is exhibiting a decrease in attendance for other fitness formats (they also offer TRX, Yoga and PT). It turns out that the business as a whole is struggling to attract new members. More critically, their customer service and sales reps have focused more on new members at the cost of neglecting to keep existing members who started to leave due to changes in the market landscape – namely cheaper, entry level competing studios who offer lower rates, aggressive social medial promotions and rewards for loyalty (such as buy 5 rides, get 5 free – I know, very aggressive).


The Market Dictates The Lifecycle

You’ve heard this a million times: supply and demand. That is the fundamental rule of small and large businesses alike. It is a rule that has proven true in a variety of commercial endeavors, including fitness platforms. Indoor cycling studio failures are not new. Running a small business is no small feat. It requires utmost dedication, sacrifice and the patience of a saint – to see through the difficult challenges and believe in what you are doing. There is, sadly, a time at which, you as the owner or the management team, is/are unable to maintain the competitive nature of your business; or, more importantly, the inability to adapt to the changes in market conditions. There is a time for things to end – for businesses to either re-invent themselves, roll with the changes, or simply choose to continue with the current path. Both approaches will bring about uncertainty, chaos, upheaval and doubts. One leads to success, the other to failure. Simple but harsh facts.


For me, this particular timeslot has reached the end of its useful life. As much as it pains me to leave this location, I do it with the confidence that I went above and beyond with my services and dedication to the studio and its members.


Good things do come to an end.