“Finish strong!” hollers the spin class instructor.
I ask myself: “Finish strong? Heck, I didn’t know we were close to the finish line.”
Facilitated by a good leader, spin classes can be a great, low-impact cardio workout. Good instructors take class members on a journey that transcends peddling a stationary bike in a dark room. A class lacking a game plan and good communication certainly creates a less inspiring experience.
I am certainly not qualified to teach a spin class but my experience as a participant for the past 10 years at various fitness clubs has provided me with some thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. The experience has also provided an interesting comparison to other team training environments, such as basketball. Like coaches in other sports, I believe exercise instructors are more effective when they communicate clearly about where they want to take the team.
So, if I were asked to speak at a “coach-the-coaches” clinic for spin class instructors (not likely anytime soon, by the way), here are two pieces of advice I’d impart:
- Start and finish the class on time. Attendees are making a point to be in your class and prepared prior to the start time. The instructor should have the respect and professionalism to follow suit.
- Inform your participants about the journey before it starts. Will it be a series of intervals and hills or a long, heavy endurance ride? Athletes are inspired by leaders with a vision. Where are we going and how are we going to get there? Spin instructors without a game plan for each session are likely to be perceived as uncommitted and ineffective.
Each segment of the imaginary ride should be telegraphed. For instance, if we will be starting a 5-minute gradual hill climb, let the cyclists know. Providing periodic progress reports during the segment (“Two minutes down, three to go!”) is also a good thing. Barking out “Gear up!” every 20 seconds does not qualify as good communication.
Good coaches share their vision with their respective teams. Whether that vision relates to season-long goals (Ex: “advance to the playoffs for the first time in school history”), individual practice sessions (Ex: “focus on ball-handling fundamentals, individual defense and our fast-break offense”), or the segments within the practice session (Ex: “the next 10 minutes will be dedicated to strong- and weak-hand ball-handling before we take a 2-minute break and then move on to our press break), good coaches communicate early and often.
I had the good fortune of playing college basketball for an excellent leader, Pat Sullivan. He set the bar high in terms of communicating goals and objectives for our teams. Each season and individual practices were meticulously planned in advance. Each player on the team had a strong sense of what we were doing and why, and the length of time required to work hard in a particular area of the game. We were actively engaged because we knew where we were headed and could clearly see the pathway to get there.
In sum, leadership that expects to drive teams to achieve common goals, and individuals to achieve personal goals, requires solid planning and frequent communication.
-Guest Blog by Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy is the Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Republic Financial Corporation, a Denver-based private investment firm.