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)
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!!
You 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, VMO, PFPS….).
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!!
CEO: What if we train our employees and they leave?
HR Manager: What if we don’t and they stay?
We 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. 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 establish 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!!
I 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.
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.