I might not be that old, but I have been teaching indoor cycling for almost eight years. In spite of those years of experience and the fact that I teach several class a week to rooms full of people; performance and public speaking are not my favorite things. The bike serves as confidence building tool which helps me overcome my fears. However, even being on the bike didn’t make the prospect of performing in front of a master instructor as well as other fitness professionals any less intimidating last weekend.
I participated in a certification class for Les Mills Sprint, which is a form of high intensity interval training on stationary bikes. These classes are thirty minutes long, but with intense efforts and minimal recovery thirty minutes is enough. I had to learn a track, or a full song with the accompanying movements, in the week leading up to the class. During the weekend of training I had to get up several times in front of my fitness peers to perform the track that I had learned. I tried to remind myself that I had taught many classes throughout my fitness career and that this was just one more short one, but I still had butterflies in my stomach as I stepped up to the bike. Taking a deep breath or two, I was able to get into my instructor persona, push the nerves aside and command the room.
I went into this weekend of class time wondering if I would really learn anything new and also lamenting the fact that I would be stuck indoors all weekend, unable to ride my bike outside. In spite of some negative thoughts going in, I came out of this weekend feeling very positive and accomplished. Spending some time with other veteran instructors, including our “master instructor” gave me a feeling of belonging that I hadn’t felt in a while. I teach at several gyms and work with some great people, but many times I don’t get to sit down and talk with other instructors about how they teach, or see them in action, or even to vent about crazy students we have had in class.
I was also forced to challenge myself throughout the weekend. Truly stepping outside my comfort zone is not something I do every day and it is hard and uncomfortable. Some people may think I take on challenges all of the time. They see that I rode fifty miles and think, “that’s amazing,” however fifty miles on the bike has become a somewhat normal day for me. I am very good at using the bike as a tool and almost as a crutch, but when I had to get out from behind the bike to coach a class I found it challenging. I was nervous about having to step off the bike and spend time coaching a class from the floor. However, it turned out that the nerves leading up to this were way worse than the actual floor coaching of the class. I learned to embrace that discomfort and even feed off it.
Over the weekend I gained some new perspective on myself as an instructor. I was stuck in a bit of a rut with the way I was teaching and this class helped to refresh and reinvigorate me as a fitness professional. I left this training feeling a renewed sense of confidence and feeling prepared to take on whatever new challenges might be coming my way.