6 Tips for #indoorcycling Instructors on how to Remember Names

4One of the hallmarks of engaging indoor cycling instructors is their unique ability to remember the names of those in class. Although it is easier to remember the names of frequent riders or when the class numbers are small, it is far more difficult to remember names of riders in a larger class or when you are teaching a brand new class. Why remember names you ask? Accurately remembering names is one of the most important components of interacting with people. For fitness and indoor cycling classes, remembering names creates a bond of awareness and engagement. A person’s name is the single most important word to him/her; their name defines their identity as an individual, and when you greet them as they come into class, they will instantly be engaged. Think about the times you’ve felt special when someone you admired, like your school teacher or mentor, addressed you by your name in a sincere tone. Alternatively, think of how you felt when someone called you by the wrong name, or worse, made fun of your name.

As indoor cycling instructors, we are considered the SMEs – subject matter experts. When you lead a class, you can make a deeper impact by remembering your riders’ first names and by using their names to encourage and inspire them. After all, you may only see them once a week. So remembering their names will have a lasting impression. There are numerous techniques that have been extensively researched on how to remember names. As an indoor cycling instructor, here are 6 tips that I use that will make it easier to remember first names:

1.    Make the first name, and only the first name, the focus of the first interaction
When you introduce yourself to a new rider, ask only for the first name. This will make it 50% easier to remember that name. There is no need to ask for the last name. Then, as soon as they say their first name, you must immediately use it by saying something like “Nice to meet you Kara”. Instantly thereafter, reinforce the name by asking a question such as, “Is that Kara with a K or with a C?”. Or if the name is somewhat uncommon, ask them to spell it under the humorous pretense that you do not want to mess it up. Finally, display a humble approach by saying, “Kara, I will probably ask you 5 more times to remind me of your first name as I am very bad with remembering names – so sorry”.

2.    Make an extra effort to learn foreign-sounding names
I teach at several studios with a very diverse clientele. Some of my students’ names are difficult to pronounce. hThese students will especially appreciate it if you correctly remember their names when so many others botch the pronunciation. Start off, apologetically and with a big smile, with something like this (when faced with someone whose name is very unusual): “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Can you go a little slow?” As soon as they repeat the name, focus on the phonetic spelling, which is far easier to remember. Then immediately try to associate the name with something you can easily relate to. For example, for a name like “Anzhelika”, think of Angelica, or for a name like “Hemantharaju”, think of it rhyming with Mount Kilimanjaro. As soon as you make the association, repeat the name to them and ask if you got it right. They will certainly appreciate the sincerity of your effort.

3.    Write it down
If the above two methods fail, this old trick still works! Whenever I see a new rider, I grab a small notepad that I keep in my gym bag, walk up to them and introduce myself. Upon learning of their name, I immediately write it down. Don’t worry too much about the spelling. This way, if there are several new riders, you can easily note their names.

4.    Find an association trigger
Try to associate names with things people are wearing or by things they tell you about themselves. For example, Bob is an avid golfer and he always wears golf-inspired apparel to indoor cycling class (yes, true story). Janet loves to cook, always talks about hosting parties and brings her famous chili to the studio for a monthly charitable event. With triggers like these, it is easier to recall the names due to the corresponding association.

5.    Speak it up
images-24One of the ways I encourage my riders during a difficult drill, is by using visual cues as well as their names. For example, “Jill, I know you love to climb. Just stay seated as the resistance builds, then when you feel you can no longer stay in the saddle, I want you to summon that last bit of energy and attack that hill as you climb.” This is an effective way to add a unique association factor that also results in a positive or encouraging call to action for that rider. Another example: towards the end of the ride, I start calling first names (as many as possible) and say to them: “Marc, Amy, Sandra, Melissa,….this is the last hill, let’s empty the tanks and then go for our victory lap”. The more you do this, the easier it will become to remember more names.

6.    Don’ts
It is not that easy to remember the names of all the riders in every class, especially if you teach several classes a week at different studios. Regardless of how many classes you teach, avoid these pitfalls:
– Don’t call people by the wrong name
– Don’t call people by alternate names or nicknames if they haven’t first permitted it
– Don’t make fun of someone’s name or mock its pronunciation/spelling

– Don’t use the open mic to call out a rider if you notice unsafe behavior. Instead dismount and approach them individually.


How do you remember your riders’ names? Share your tricks with me using the comments section below.





How to Teach the Greatest #IndoorCycling Class….by Tina Kim

Tina, a fellow indoor cycling instructor based in Los Angeles, has created a one-of-a-kind course on udemy, the online TinaKimlearning platform. Tina invested about 300 hours shooting videos, editing content and creating the routines for this class.

From Tina’s course description: “In this course you’ll learn how to teach a nonstop cycling class based on timed roads, not songs & the do’s and don’ts of teaching a functional indoor cycling class. You’ll never have to put a playlist together again after this course. You’ll always be ready to teach any kind of indoor cycling class in seconds and have thousands of songs ready for your ride. After this course you’ll be able to find songs and edit songs for your class and never teach the same class twice. I designed this course for anyone interested in learning how to put together an indoor cycling class in seconds. It contains song lists, song breakdowns, charts, audios and examples, so you’ll feel like you’re right next to me learning this course.”

Tina has provided me with a special discount to share with my readers. You can take Tina’s class using your computer or mobile device for a 70% discount with this special link: https://www.udemy.com/how-to-teach-the-greatest-indoor-cycling-class/?couponCode=tomsblog. A downloadable ebook is also available when you attend the class. But hurry, this link will only be available for the first 50 readers. So I encourage you to experience this engaging and entertaining class as soon as possible. A udemy account is required.

Find out more about Tina, a comedienne and writer, through her website, by visiting her Facebook page or following her on Twitter @tkcomic.

Thank you Tina. Wishing you continued success.

Ride On

How to Successfully Plan & Execute a 2 Hour #IndoorCycling Ride in 6 Steps

A 2 hour indoor cycling class is quite a challenge even for seasoned riders and instructors. Such ride can be done in the context of a fund raiser or simply to create a unique and demanding challenge. You may be wondering why 2 hours? If you have taken a 60 or 90minute class, you probably wondered ….how far can I push the limits and how much more can I endure? I was recently asked to deliver a 2 hour ride at three separate locations (on three separate dates for the same fitness chain) and I thought that I should finally formalize what I would consider to be the critical factors to ensure that you have a successful ride, and more importantly to inspire your riders to bring back the 2 hour ride again and again!!


Step 1: Why 2 hours?

When pitching the ride to your studio’s management or even your students, you have to be clear on the benefits of such a cycle1prolonged ride as well as its unique advantages. The most important selling point is the personal challenge such a ride can pose. Are you ready to see how far you can go? Are you ready to set new personal bests? Are you ready to overcome barriers and push through to new heights? These are some of the questions you can use on posters, social media or the studio’s website to elicit a direct, powerful and engaging response from indoor cycling riders who consider themselves to be the elite. Sure, some may have done two or even three classes in a day, but have they sustained a single ride for 2 hours?

Step 2: Clearly Identify The Benefits

It is not enough to ask the hard hitting questions. It is equally important to identify the target goals of the 2 hour ride. For spinexample, with the help of HRM and Power metrics (e.g. Performance IQ or Polar devices), you can set specific and measurable deliverables such as power achieved, distance traveled, calories expended, heart rate thresholds, etc. For many tech-savvy riders, these metrics will appeal to them because they can see themselves reaching new heights and establishing new baselines for their desired personal workout goals. However, do not be exclusive. This ride should not specifically target just elite riders – it is open to any rider, regardless of age, gender or fitness abilities. This way, your message is inclusive and will appeal to a wider audience from which you can create a buzz for future rides.

Step 3: Promote The Event

Come up with a unique slogan for this event and ask your studio to promote it on social media and their website. Use your own cycle1social media outlets to invite riders and further promote the ride. A recent 120 minute ride I conducted had this as its slogan: CYCLE 4-3-2-1: 4 Instructors, 3 Zones, 2 Hours, 1 Epic Ride (yes, that was a multi-instructor event). Additionally:

  • Communicate (through social media or other tools) to the riders about start time, location and the ride’s profile.
  • Ask your riders for music suggestions. If they contribute, chances are they will show up.

Step 4: Come Prepared & Make Sure They Are Prepared

As an instructor, this special ride requires careful profile planning and music selection (more on that next). Here are some other items to pay attention to:

  • Do not teach a regular class prior to the 120 minute class. Come well rested and hydrated. Eat a light meal an hour before the start of class.
  • If budget allows it, bring a case of bottled water, energy bars and fresh fruit. Riders will appreciate that, especially those who did not prepare well.
  • Bring an extra towel, extra batteries, a backup music source and wear your favorite outfit.
  • If you feel your audience would be receptive, bring some affordable “dollar store” items such as noise makers, light sticks, etc.
  • Bring your camera/mobile phone to take pictures for posting on social media.
  • Bring an ice pack or two. Some riders will discover new pains as they ride for 2 hours. Having an ice pack or two will help alleviate the pains and prevent unnecessary cramping.

Step 5: Carefully Craft The Ride’s Profile & Music

I know you have been teaching for many years and you can instruct a 60 or 90 minutes class with little planning. On the otheradvanced_indoor_cycling_workout hand, a 120 minute ride requires careful scripting of routines and companion music for some very important reasons:

  • Your profile should have a balance between prolonged climbs, seated drills and combinations. Do not focus on just one drill – keep it varied, keep them interested and keep it moving!!
  • Your profile should have enough recovery times so that you do not burn the riders out.
  • You must pace the class and be clear about effort/energy output. Set targets for every 30 minutes using your power meter (if available).
  • Temper your own expectations: During my most recent 120 minute class, we started with 36 riders. After 60 minutes, 4 dropped off. After 75 minutes, 3 more dropped off. After 90 minutes, 27 riders remained. At the 120 minute mark, only 22 riders finished the class. The 120 minute ride is not for every rider. Some may try to see how far they can go. Some may try to complete it. Do not be alarmed if only a few riders remain for your first 120 minute ride.
  • Brush up on cues and write them down so that you do not “sound like a broken record”. Since the riders will be hearing you for 120 minutes, consider the “less is more” approach when verbally engaging the room.

Step 6: Acknowledge The Accomplishment

Riding for a sustained 2 hours in a remarkable milestone, irrespective of your fitness levels. As you coach your riders into accomplishment-clip-art-free-1874170unchartered territory, you will find that some will develop a new found confidence in their abilities to meet the challenge and overcome it. Your job is not to please everybody, but to focus on those who are willing to advance beyond personal limitations. You must reward their accomplishment: door prizes (something affordable), a personal acknowledgement on the studio’s website or your social media feed, will go a long way towards earning the bragging rights for having completed 120 minutes of an indoor cycling ride.

Ride on.


9 Tips & Tricks to Designing & Successfully Implementing an #IndoorCycling Program for Kids

kidsEarlier this summer, I was approached by the group fitness manager where I teach indoor cycling to ask me about creating a special cycling class for kids, 10-14 years old. Having done that previously, I inquired about the group’s overall fitness goals, fitness levels and goals behind such a class. With that information in mind, I created a 3 month program called “Summer Fit, School Fit” with the goal to get kids actively involved in one cycling class per week, for three months and concluding this program in time to start school in September. Here are some recommendations, tips and tricks to help you deliver a successful indoor cycling class or a complete indoor cycling program for this age group:

  1. Always lead, but accept the chaos: In the first class, I attempted to setup each kid properly (seat height, handlebars, etc.) but managed to confuse all of them. Kids have a shorter attention span and trying to explain the mechanics of the bike and its setup proved to be futile. Case in point: I had 20 kids and when I started setting up the first bike, the remaining 19 kids were already on their bikes and pedaling away. However, here is an interesting observation: within a few seconds, the kids who were setup too high or too low stopped, dismounted and asked for my help. Needless to say, I spent the first 20 minutes setting up bikes and then, we finally got the 30 minute class started (and did only 10 minutes of work!!).
  2. Assign bikes & tag them with setup details (if repeating the class): Much like in a school setting, kids gravitate to their favorite desk (and thus a bike) and tend to keep it for the rest of the school year. After struggling with the setup, I used index cards to write each kid’s name and their setup numbers (I was using Kesier M3 bikes which have numbers and letters on the handlebar and seat). I taped the card to the corresponding bike. In the next class, we were up and running in 5 minutes as each kid went directly to their bike and looked at the card for easy reference.
  3. 843491_x5-right-side-viewDon’t be concerned with ride mechanics or power, but focus on safety: From the first class, some kids just wanted to pedal so fast to get the computer display to show the highest possible RPM’s. I tried to explain some of the fundamentals of speed and resistance, but that was too technical. Kids want to have fun and that theme should remain paramount. So without much fuss, I instead shifted the focus onto safety and asked the kids to make sure the seat is securely locked, their feet are secured in the cage and showed them how to apply the emergency break. Three simple safety procedures that they can all remember.
  4. Focus on fun, and use teams drills: Trying to get the kids to focus on a climb or a specific routine was challenging at times. However, trying the same routine by using a team approach yielded better results. For example, I split the group of 20 in 4 teams of 5 kids each. I gave them unique names (Team Blue, Team Red, etc.) and when the routine started, I assigned each team a task. This way they remained focused on one objective. When one team started a task such as a climb, I asked the remaining teams to pedal at moderate speeds but cheer on the team that is currently climbing. Because their friends were on that team, kids felt engaged and participated in all of the remaining drills. As we alternated turns, every kid got a chance to participate in a drill and cheer their friends.
  5. listCurate a playlist: All of this would not have been easy without a properly curated playlist. So how does an adult like me curate a playlist for 10-14 year old kids? Simple, call on your kids (if you have any in the age group), your nieces, nephews and friends’ kids. Ask them what is popular, what they listen to, names of artists, characters in favorite TV shows and the like. You want to show that you are connected to your participants. So the playlist included songs they are familiar with, songs they can sing to and songs that come from popular TV shows or movies. While there are plenty of songs and playlists to choose from, I picked songs performed by Kidz Bop which are mainstream and clean (click the image to enlarge).
  6. Don’t forget hydration & recovery: Both of these elements are equally important for adults as well as for kids. I brought a case of water to class as I did not expect the kids to have water bottles. Sure enough, they did not and having water on hand is much better than having to stop for a water break and disrupt the follow of class.
  7. _580_1000_90_1325983871964592107Breaks, engagement & rewards: Treating this class as if it were in a school setting, I give the kids 1-2 minute breaks every 10 minutes and asked them about their reaction, what they liked and what they did not like. Keeping them engaged prevented them from drifting away and becoming distracted. Next, I engaged them with simple Q&A (while on the bike as well when walking around the room) such as what is their favorite subject in school, favorite teacher, favorite foods, best movie and so on. Once they were given an opportunity to participate, they appeared more at ease on the bike and getting back to drills was not as difficult. Finally, I purchased small gifts to hand out when they answered my questions and also give them additional gifts at the end of each class. Some of these gifts included sports bottles that can be refilled, medals for completing a routine, glow sticks, glow bracelets and the like.
  8. Kids-Spin-BikeFollow proven recommendations: Spinning(R) suggests that “Spinner bikes are suitable for individuals who are at least 4 feet, 11 inches tall; however, this is not an exact minimum height, because leg and torso length are also determining factors.”
  9. Define program rules: As a good steward for indoor cycling programs, you and your facility’s general manager should collaborate on ensuring that the following rules are in place (adapted from Spinning.com):
  • Be sure to have a signed permission slip on file from a parent or guardian before any participant under the age of 18 gets on a bike.
  • Get a parent or legal guardian’s contact information, a release of liability waiver, and any relevant health information (e.g., if a child has asthma).
  • Request that participants who have asthma or other medical conditions inform you, and that they bring their inhalers or other necessary medications to class.
  • Have a strict, no-nonsense policy against horseplay on or around the bikes.
  • Be sure that shoe laces are securely tied and not in danger of getting wrapped up on a pedal or crank arm.

With the program I designed and implemented, I felt that a significant impact can be made on kids who may not participate in regular physical activities. By sharing with them the concept, application and benefits of indoor cycling, my hope is that those kids, one day, will embark on their fitness journey and chart a course for a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. kidsworkout Ride On. Tom

5 Critical Success Factors: Delivering a Tour De France #Indoorcycling Class

map_routeEach year in July, the Tour De France inspires many riders to exceed their potential, find new heights and achieve the elusive goal of winning the most prestigious cycling competition in the world. Over the past few years, I have incorporated videos of “Le Tour” stages in my indoor cycling classes. These rides, 60 minutes each, are meant to expose indoor cycling riders to the competitive nature of riding in a race, as well as to some unique aspects of outdoor competitive cycling such as: riding near the threshold, riding in a peloton, alternating between endurance stages and attack stages, time trials, team pursuits and mountain climbing.

Although the concept is exciting and leads to a nice break from teaching traditional indoor cycling classes, I have established the following success factors that you need to pay close attention to if you plan on implementing a “Le Tour” video ride at your studio or gym.

The 5 Critical Success Factors – Pre-requisites:

  1. Plan ahead – at least 30 days prior to the class, make an announcement in your regular classes and repeat the announcements at subsequent classes. If you have multiple rides planned, announce those as well (see example below).stages
  2. Ask your facility’s group fitness manager or communication staff to include the ride’s date and time in their emails, tweets, blog posts and social media posts. Creating awareness is critical.
  3. Obtain the necessary videos and companion music (check if licensing or fees are required), practice the ride and routine and make sure any audio/video equipment that is needed is available and in working order.

The 5 Critical Success Factors

  1. 66_20140722_©BrakeThrough-Media_DSC9655-659x440This is NOT Interval Indoor Cycling: While obvious to us indoor cycling instructors (especially if you ride outdoors), this is a really important notion to impart onto your riders. Typically, most indoor cycling riders do not ride outdoors. They are used to indoor interval routines, where music, tempo and instructor cueing help them achieve specific goals. With a “Le Tour” video ride, there are significant differences, where for example, you are in the seated position in a peloton, plugging away at threshold or tempo levels (90-100 rpms) for prolonged periods exceeding 10 minutes. For indoor cycling, staying seated for that long is somewhat unusual and to many, uncomfortable. Similarly, there are portions of a “Le Tour” ride when a breakaway occurs and you reach anaerobic levels (>110 rpms) to overtake the leader. While doable in indoor cycling, the pace and intensity as well as duration may not be in line with what indoor cyclists expect.
  2. The Playlist will be different: The majority of “Le Tour” videos I use have an already paired playlist, mostly instrumental with no lyrics. If your indoor cycling group is used to certain motifs (EDM, Pop/Hip Hop, Motown, etc.), or used to “your” style of music as the instructor, the video tour will certainly be quite different. Make sure they are aware of this during the communication stage I described in the pre-requisites.
  3. tour-de-france-2015-video-game-screenshots_0002_Layer-48The Video is your Competition: Most indoor cycling classes feature a two-dimensional approach: the instructor’s cues, and the music+routine. With a “Le Tour” video ride, a third dimension is introduced, the video itself, whereby riders are now paying attention to the screen upfront and they are following the pack. As an instructor, your role will be sidelined a bit. You should still cue and provide motivation, encouragement and anticipation to changes in levels (for example when a climb is coming or when a breakaway is about to occur). However, I would suggest you cut back on the amount of cueing and let the riders make an immersive connection to the video. I believe this makes the ride more effective. In other words, do not be a distraction.
  4. Make it Educational: While all indoor cycling participants are looking to work out, there are rare opportunities to educate them on the particulars of something as popular as the Tour De France. If possible, and if you are using Microsoft PowerPoint, you can have companion slides along with the video that you can use to share certain facts such as the distance of “Le Tour”, the number of riders, funny tidbits about food consumption and country facts (see screen shots of slides below).
    tdf1 tdf2
  5. Listen for Feedback: When the ride is over, encourage the participants to share with you and the rest of the group how they felt, suggestions for improvement, what they liked or disliked and if they wish to see this type of ride repeated. Over the years, I’ve had groups who loved the Tour De France video ride, groups who hated it and others who wanted something different such as videos for Pikes Peak, Colorado state park rides, mountain biking and cyclocross.

If you are planning on a video ride, ensure your group is aware of it, preparing them for the key differences and enlist the help of your facility’s marketing team to spread the word.

“Bon chance et merci”.


5 Basic Facts – Lactate Threshold for #IndoorCycling Riders: What You Need To Know

In today’s indoor cycling ride, a few riders approached me about lactic acid, the infamous “burn” they experience and the need to know more about lactic threshold when planning their spring rides. As the weather improves towards the end of February and beginning of March, some of my indoor riders seek a gradual start to their outdoor training.

Some riders are new at this interesting combo: indoor cycling during the week (before or after work), then longer outdoor rides during weekends. To help these riders, I prepared a summary of the five basic facts every rider should know about lactic acid, its production, its impact and the benefits of lactic threshold training.

The best way to communicate this information is in this handy quick reference guide (click for full-size):


Ride strong.



7 Mistakes You Might be Making in #IndoorCycling Classes

Many of us indoor cycling instructors see this too often: a rider is late, they hop on a bike and start climbing. Within seconds, the handlebars fall/drop. Or, you notice someone bouncing almost uncontrollably. And, sometimes a rider suddenly hops off the bike and rushes out (to leave). These are just few of the common mistakes that we see repeatedly.

As instructors, the safety of our riders and the effectiveness of their work out are our top priorities. Here are some of the mistakes that you might be making (click to enlarge the quick reference guide below):



Ride safely.