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Assesing the instructors

e.e.cummings2010-05-02 14:04:20 +0000 #1
We have a variety of instructors at our gym - they can be so different, mostly in good ways:

1. The lone male instructor is probably the most creative - he brings in an elevation (eg. today we are going to cycle 130 km on the Montage de Reims in France); he is always changing his music, and it can be anything from early Elton John to international beat music; he 'picks' people or a group of people from the group and challenges them during sprints, which is fun - we all clap to support them; we change positions - a climb can be more foreward, crouching, up, etc. The variety all makes for a very interesting spin, the class goes by very fast. He gives very clear instruction, sometimes using hand signals. He is in very good shape.

2. Another female instructor is extremely agressive in her spins - she spins so fast, it is incredible. What I really like about her is that she is very challenging, she inspires us to spin faster (explosif!). She is very clear in her instruction, and uses hand signals to indicate changes (when doing countdowns) - it helps when the music is so loud.

3. Two other female instructors I would place as more junior. Their music never changes, and it is so loud that they really should learn to use hand instruction to make this more evident. One of the instructors is quite overweight and I did not know how to take this first. You initially think that someone who leads that kind of class must have really good experience (and be in the kind of shape that one would hope spinning will put you in?) At the same time you are heartened at the fact that even someone who is that overweight can do this, which is probably inspiring to other who are that overweight. Outside of that, she has things to learn - she sometimes covers her tension indicator with her towel, so if you missed the tension through the loud music, you cannot see it. She has also been late more than once, which is getting fatiguing. The one thing I will say is that she really has heart - she gets us going and she has a lot of spirit.

Any reflections on your spinning instructors?

Crankin2010-05-02 14:20:36 +0000 #2
This seems typical for any given club. But, as a former group exercise instructor, threads like this give me chills.

Some instructors don't seem to realize that they are there to teach and not to get their own workout. I don't go to spin anymore, but when I did I liked a variety of music, no disco or rap, and a ride that was not an aerobics class on a bike. In other words, a class like the one your male instructor teaches.

We had a couple of women who spun their bikes at such a high cadence that it is hard for me to believe they had any tension on their bikes at all. Perhaps they are just much, much stronger than me? But, what happens is that the participants see this, keep the tension off of their bikes, and start hiking their cadence to the point that they are bouncing around on their seats and not getting much benefit from this whole thing. No outdoor cyclist would ever ride this way! Sure, a series of progressive drills where you increase your cadence is fine, but 60 minutes of this super spinning is just going to blow my knees out. I have seen so much "wrong" stuff going on in spin classes, that it is disheartening, because most instructors never say anything to the people. They try to make a general correction, but are too afraid to address a person privately, but directly. Again, they are there to teach, and it doesn't seem to be a priority for many.
e.e.cummings2010-05-02 14:17:20 +0000 #3
You know, I wondered if there is any such thing as too fast, and I glad that you responded to this, because when I look at our 'fast instructor' she brings it to such a level that it makes you think you should be striving to go that fast as well. And she gives no indication that there is any such thing as 'too fast', so all us newbies are left thinking that is what we are supposed to emulate.

You are correct as well - very few instructors let you know if you are doing anything wrong, or if you are new, give you pointers. When I was in my first class, it was with the first guy who helped me (I arrived early and asked) - he told me how to adjust my bike, and how to hold the handles properly when in certain positions, etc. After that, I went on to get more instruction.
OakLeaf2010-05-02 14:49:35 +0000 #4
I didn't do any of the indoor cycling classes at the convention I just finished - I can't ride those bikes because of the length of the crankarms - but I was in a quieter session next door to the cycling room when we overheard the presenter yelling "I am appalled that no one is doing push-ups!"

This is where the instructors get their training...

WRT cadence, just from an outdoor and trainer/rollers POV, there's no such thing as "too fast" per se, but there's "poor form" (bouncing) and obviously also "inefficient." An instructor should know the difference... Without knowing what cadence the instructor is asking you to maintain - if it's anything between 85 and 105, then IMO it's definitely beneficial to maintain that for an entire class even if it might not be your preferred cadence on the road. The lower cadence at higher tension will imitate a long climb and build strength, a moderately high cadence will help smooth your pedal stroke, get you great cardio and build your inner thigh muscles.
JH-NV2010-05-02 15:06:03 +0000 #5
It is amazing the difference between instructors. I have posted before, my adoration of a particular spin instructor, who also races tandem with DH. A good instructor in anything will have mastery in the subject, will understand clearly, contraindicated movements/maneuvers as safety should always be paramount to a good physical workout. The group instructors at my gym do have degrees in physical ed or health ed. But even that does not guarantee a knowledgable instructor in form and safety. Unfortunately, by the time someone "listens" to their body, it could be at the expense of their knees, etc. I have found that those who ride on the road and teach, offer a better class, than those who only teach aerobics, Zumba, TBC, etc. Just MHO.
Crankin2010-05-02 14:22:38 +0000 #6
Oakleaf, I can assure you that the cadence I am talking about is above 105. Such poor form, that it was unbelievable. And, there are some participants who think that this means you are tough, when your a$$ is bouncing all over the saddle. And the push ups? Oy, that is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Same with the jumps and hovers. At one point I started doing long seated climbs when I had an instructor who was doing continual series of those. After awhile, I noticed that just about all of the outdoor cyclists were doing what I was doing.

This was one of things that made me decide to save 1200 dollars a year by quitting my gym membership, for the first time since 1980. I do stuff outside all year round and I have weights, resistance bands, and a ball at home. I put my bike on the trainer from December-February and I probably am going to get an elliptical, too. Sure, there's more socialization at the gym, but mostly I found myself talking to everyone less and less. At some point, when I finish my degree, I will rejoin somewhere, but it probably will be a place where I can just do weights, etc.
Miranda2010-05-02 16:00:23 +0000 #7
I teach Spinning at my gym. For pedaling outside, I'm primarily a roadie, and mtb some. Plus, weights inside, and some outdoor winter stuff (xc ski).

Thx for posting this thread .

As an instructor, I am always looking for ways to improve myself, and my class, for those I teach.

Interesting thoughts... going to keep just reading for the time being.




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