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What does it take to be a master trainer in today’s indoor cycling industry?


In today’s indoor cycling studio, it’s fair to say that there are a wide variety of different experiences available. Boutique brands such as Flywheel and Soul Cycle have a great following throughout North America and there are plenty of operators looking to emulate a similarly unique experience. Coaches and instructors are often stuck in the middle as operators decide the future of their indoor cycling offering irrespective of the latent skill set they have available to them.

The truth is that whilst it’s certain these pioneers of Boutique cycling are successful in what they do, it might not be something that you can (or should) look to replicate. Dynamics such as local population density and demographic play a huge role in the success of such Boutique experiences and so what works in Los Angeles or even London might not necessarily work in smaller cities or towns.

So, with so many different experiences available how is it possible to be an indoor cycling Master Trainer? These are some of the skills you’ll need to enable you to stay on top.

It’s all about the music
Whilst technology supports the indoor cycling experience and allows a coach to better manage a classroom full of participants, the coaches ability to use music in their session has always been a key to success. Understanding the structure of music and having the ability to map music in a way that your cycling movements can express the geography of the track will link participants physical experiences to a great soundtrack. The ability to ride with rhythm and select a multitude of genres to support various cadences and riding positions will always make your sessions stand out from the rest. Anything from Trance to Punk, and Drum and Bass to Classical will assist a great coach in building atmosphere and attitude in the studio space.

Knowledge is Power
Power training is here and it’s here to stay. ALL major bike manufacturers now have a bike that provides Power metrics for the user to utilise during their workout. With that in mind a great instructor now needs a depth of knowledge about Power training. What is it? How can it be tested? How can it be improved? All of these questions are the fundamentals of Power training without even thinking of the minefield of Power meters and how they work; what manufacturer give the best data etc. Alongside this should be a good understanding of heart rate training, training stress and training periodisation.

What’s the projector for?
Learning to use a visual format of training is essential in today’s indoor cycling studio. Whether it is a forward motion video class which engages the rider in an immersive video format, or a telemetric display that shows all rider data in the room and allows a coach to create healthy competition, understanding visual feedback is paramount in your coaching arsenal. Selecting the appropriate video stage or deciding when in the class to provide competition is all about understanding your riders response to your choices. A video format should be planned in as much detail as a musical format. As a trainer, understanding that these are very different experiences for the rider is important in helping avoid an unidentifiable class type that appeals neither to one person or another.

Be a champion
This one is huge! Being a champion means so many things but let’s drill it down to the simple things. To me, that’s 2 things, being professional and leading by example. Being professional is being approachable and talking easily to everyone. It’s caring for the fittest and the least fit riders in the room equally. It’s knowing people’s names and being able to say hi and ask how they are. It’s representing the operator fully and properly. It’s clipping in your cycle shoes and tracking your workouts and teaching everyone else to do the same thing. It’s planning and preparing, educating and improving yourself. Leading by example is being there to teach but riding well. It’s looking technically and physically strong on the bike. It’s about putting out efforts and being physically prepared to lead from the front. It’s staying in shape and just loving exercise. It’s defined by being a Champion of movement and indoor cycling and convincing people of why you love what you do.

Not in the physical sense (although that’s always beneficial) but more in a programming sense. With so many different experiences available it’s important to see the value in all of them and a true Master Trainer should have equal skill in delivering a stripped-back, traditional, music-based ride as they should have delivering a video-based, data-driven competition using Power as a metric. It’s fair to say that most people will have their favourite style and that’s true for coaches too but understanding the benefits of each to a wide audience of riders will keep you current and in-demand.

So, with the skills listed above being just some of what you’d require to have a deep and broad understanding of the indoor cycling offering, is it possible to be an indoor cycling Master Trainer? Obviously, there are more and more opportunities for operator-specific Master Trainers nowadays who will represent a brand and their specific brand offering very well but to ascend to the level of Master Trainer for a manufacturer and/or training provider your thinking should be broad and your passion should be deep. If you listen, learn, question, plan, practice and develop then the opportunities are still there but they are special and rare and they are for rare, special individuals. Is that you?

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