Supporting, encouraging & challenging students is what teaching is about

I don't own a regular bike. I would never ride it. But I sure can ride that stationary bike. (This is bike parking in Amsterdam.)

I don’t own a regular bike. I would never ride it. But I sure can ride that stationary bike. (This is bike parking in Amsterdam.)

I am currently working at LA Fitness (and soon another gym) as a cycle and yoga teacher. Click for my schedule here.
I have taken indoor cycling classes as a student for seven to eight years.
Indoor cycling is a cardio workout on a stationary bike where the students are guided by an instructor to ride hills, sprints, jumps, etc.
Even though I have started to teach regularly I still try to take a class occasionally from another instructor. I like to just be a student sometimes. And I can also get ideas from other teachers and maybe even hear a new song.
My philosophy as a cycle teacher is very similar to my philosophy as a yoga teacher. I believe you take care of your students in a loving manner. You remind your students to honor their bodies. You encourage, support and challenge but never humiliate or make them feel bad. Things, of course, can be misinterpreted at times. We are human beings. I try to be careful as a teacher to never make my students feel bad when I ask them to make adjustments (whether in yoga or cycle).
Before I moved to Portland I was a fairly regular indoor cycler with two teachers I enjoyed attending their classes.
A few months back my schedule was a little wonky and I couldn’t make one of my regular teachers’ classes. So I decided to attend another teacher’s class.
Like yoga teachers, there are a variety of cycle teachers out there to fit everyone’s needs and style.
This out of the ordinary class I took, well, the teacher’s style was not one that I was a fan of as I had taken her class once before. But I decided to give it another try.
I reminded myself that there are different styles of teachers and teaching for students. We all like the variety.
I went to that class and when I left I vowed to never go again.
I am all for a teacher pushing you to work harder, to a point …
This particular teacher seemed obsessed with watts on the stationary bike. Watts are a way of measuring a rider’s power output while turning the pedals during a stationary bike workout, according to Livestrong. (The faster the speed and higher the resistance on the bike the higher the watts will read.)
She walked around many times checking on watts. She called me out twice telling me that my watts weren’t high enough. Now I was panty, sweating and riding hard. Gimme a break!
The bikes also measure Kcalories. I did some reading online about Kcalories and I seriously still don’t understand what they are. Even with Livestrong’s pretty good explanation: A kilocalorie, on the other hand, contains enough energy to increase the temperature of a kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
The teacher’s second obsession on the bike were the Kcalories. Numerous times she told us what our number should be. Mine never was what I was told it should be. And I was working hard.
A fellow cycle friend told me when she took class from this particular teacher and the teacher announced how high her own watts and/or kcals were my friend compared her bike readings and felt like a loser.
That’s not how anyone should feel in any exercise class.
During this particular class I never felt that it was OK to slow down and take care of me.
I cycle regularly and know how to work hard on the bike. I have been indoor cycling for years and it is still so hard!
One of her quotes to the class really bugged me: “I know how it feels in the body.” Yea, but you don’t know how it feels in MY body.
I know how to take care of myself and back off when I need to. My concern is that other people will think they need to work that hard and if they just can’t then they are losers, no good, lame, might as well give up, etc.
As a teacher I never want to make my students feel that way.
Some of the students seemed to enjoy the class and being pushed to hit whatever watts she recommended. I was not one of those.
Even today after my cycle class ended two people came in to ride on their own. One of them was an elderly gentleman. I told him class was over but he was welcome to ride on his own.
I asked him if he knew how to do bike set up. He said he did. But he still asked for help. And I gladly helped him as I wanted him to be safe and have a fulfilling workout. And hey, maybe he will come back one day and take my class.
I like to ask my students occasionally for feedback. And many times I don’t ask for it and I still get it. I love to hear good things about my class and how I teach. But I also need to know if something didn’t work or if my students have suggestions or even questions.
As I continue on my quest as a teacher I learn and become better … for myself and my students.