14 Pearls of Wisdom for the Indoor Cycling Instructor

14 pearls of wisdom from Dr. Seuss and how to apply them to your life as a fitness professional.

Most would agree that Dr. Seuss rocks. The brilliance of his wisdom is not limited to any particular age, and can be applied across all aspects of our lives.

What can we as indoor cycling instructors learn from his words? Here are a few of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes and how we might apply them to what we do in our classes and in our roles as coaches and fitness professionals:

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Sometimes we think too hard about something. You’ve got to start somewhere; just dig in, allow yourself to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. Like creating profiles; sometimes the best ones are the simplest ones!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

How much do you educate yourself? Teaching cycling is not rocket science…but it is exercise science! Read and learn and listen and engage and find mentors and go to workshops and master classes. Take it all in!

The Indoor Cycling Association is a great resource for everything a cycling instructor needs to know. You might consider the Indoor Cycling Summit, an online conference specific to indoor cycling. Or, register for a conference such as WSSC, ECA, Can Fit Pro, IDEA and more, where top-notch master instructors from a variety of programs deliver their best education.

When you keep learning…oh the places you’ll go!

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So…get on your way!”

Start now. Your greatness is waiting for you! And your mountain is waiting for you to climb in your class!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

It’s your choice. Go with what you know intuitively to be correct. It’s the science that always wins in the end. Trends will come and go. You know what you know…steer yourself in the right direction.

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

Aren’t your students lucky they have you? Remind yourself of that today!

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Does everyone in your class get your attention equally? Do you take the steps to remember names, to make new students feel welcome, to inspire everyone in the room?

Do you remember what it was like to be a new instructor, and lend a helping hand or some helpful tips to the new instructor at your club

“Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Isn’t this one of the amazing things about what we do on stationary bikes that go nowhere? We get to empower our students and have fun…then come back and do it again!

“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true, that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

If it hasn’t happened already, there will come a day when the stereo doesn’t work, the mic dies, your iPod ceases to function, or some other unfortunate incident occurs. You will have to improvise. How you handle these “bang-ups and hang-ups” can define who you are. It can leave more students impressed with how you handled the situation than perhaps even your most awesome profile might.

Handle these events with grace and acceptance of the challenge, and you’ll always come out better than had it never happened…and then do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen again!

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

It is surprising how many fitness professionals think that they “know” it all already; that they don’t need to learn more. You know those people too. Don’t be one of them!

“Oh the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”

Exercise science is an ever-changing field. Don’t be the one who continues to use the terms “lactic acid” or “anaerobic threshold” or “percent of maximum heart rate” or “ride at 65% to burn fat.” The “science of training” train left that station a long time ago! Run after it!

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Step out of your own comfort zone today! Expand your horizons, do something new. Are you the type of instructor who teaches only interval classes because 1) they’re easiest to teach and 2) you think that’s what everyone wants?

Oh the things you can think up if only you try!

I’m not talking about thinking up “new” moves on the bike…that’s the lazy way out. Push-ups or weights on a bike fills the time with nonsensical movements without you having to create meaningful coaching.

No, I’m talking about the wide range of possibilities with cycling-specific training techniques that tease out amazing performance and results from your students without increasing the risk of injury. Or creative programming, or theme rides, or drills, or Tour de France profiles, or incentives to get your students to come more often.

“Think and wonder. Wonder and think.”

Dr. Seuss was so passionate about inspiring people to use their minds! This and the previous quote are the most important for what we do in the cycling studio. Many of you reading this wouldn’t dare add contraindicated moves to your rides, even if your students asked for them. But there are thousands who do not question, and only seek the glory of being number one on Rate My Burn.

Think! Why are you here? Why are you so passionate about helping your students reach their fitness goals?

Wonder! Wonder so hard that you go to the studio by yourself and try push-ups while sitting upright on the bike, then do some REAL push-ups on the floor to feel the difference. Then try crunches while riding, followed by REAL crunches against gravity on the floor. Then grab dumbbells that are about 50%–60% of your 1RM (repetition maximum) for a biceps curl, and start curling until you fatigue in only 10–12 reps. Then let the revelation and wisdom in your brain sink in deeply until you say, “wow, there IS a mountain of difference between each of those! What a waste to do those things on the bike!” Then go back to the bike and ride with proper resistance and cadence and give yourself a fabulous, beneficial, and appropriate workout.

Wonder so intensely that you grab your road bike (or borrow one if you don’t have one) and try riding 5 miles outside with your abs sucked in. You won’t make it a mile before the lightbulb goes off and you say in Dr. Seuss fashion, “OH, NOW I SEE WHY THAT’S UNWISE!!”

And while you’re on that bike, try pedaling without stopping while jumping up and down aggressively, or while pushing your butt back in a “hover”, or while freezing the upper body muscles while you lower yourself into a squat. Yup, the ole Doctor would be proud of you for thinking and wondering and finding out how ridiculous these techniques are.

When you wonder and think about these things as thoroughly as you can, you’ll see why these techniques make no sense. It is what is being done here and here and here, sometimes violently breaking technique rules and placing students in danger. Dr. Seuss would not approve, because it would mean the instructor is not using his or her brain.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Our beautiful industry that we are so passionate about has taken a credibility hit in the last few years. Sure, the celebrity- and media-fueled studios teaching techniques that go against every single reputable certifying agency are making all the headlines and filling the seats for the moment. Unlike trends, the foundation of cycling that brings true results will never die, especially if we stand together and raise the Keep it Real banner.

We all need to care a whole lot, or it will not get better. It will not.

“And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”

I firmly believe this. We can all succeed if we stand together! Educate yourselves. Educate your students. Educate your club and studio owners.

Jennifer is the founder of the Indoor Cycling Association.  The mission of the Indoor Cycling Association is to empower indoor cycling instructors with knowledge, motivation, class profiles and music tips, so they can change more lives in their studios. Find out more here.

14 Pearls of Wisdom for Indoor Cycle Instructors

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