Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting the funk out

Isn't it funny how words can have different meaning depending on the audience or maybe the meaning changes over time?  I've been known to say, "I'm stuck in a funk.", and that has nothing to do with the George Clinton, mid-1960's, soul-music jazz blend.


I attribute this change in meaning to the movie Ghostbusters when Bill Murray gets slimed by the ghost in the hotel and he says, "I feel so funky."  He's stuck on his back, unable to move by himself (because of the positron-pack) and while he's not injured, it's not a normal feeling. 

I don't know when it became a term for being stuck and not quite feeling right, but my Ghostbusters theory is probably as good as any of them.

Anyway, I have recently spoken with a couple of different instructors which all voiced similar concerns that they felt like they were in a rut and doing the same thing.  Maybe it's the same profile, always 2 hills, 1 sprint, etc... or that they sound repetitive in their cues with Add...Add...Add.  Maybe you're always doing Interval rides and never Strength or Endurance.  The point is that you "feel" this way.

One Master Instructor once said something to me that has stuck with me over the years and that was :

You'll get tired of your music before your audience will, because you'll play it in several classes.

So even if you play LMFAO in every class, and you teach 2-3/week.  Are your participants only taking your class?  Probably not, which means they're hearing a much broader range of music than you do.  And if they are only taking your class, then it's probably because they like your instruction, your cues, your music.  All this to say, take a deep breathe and relax, it will be okay, and your participants probably haven't even noticed (or rather enjoy) your in a rut  (that's good news.)

Think about it there are only 3 positions and 5 movements within Spinning, so how much variation are you going to have.  Reality is there isn't much variation to be had, but what can change, and should change is your ability to present yourself.

Here's some of the things I do when I feel like I'm stuck in a Spinning Funk:

  • Try another instructors class
    • This may serve as a refresher to you on some little thing you've been forgetting to do or tell your class, or maybe you'll learn some new cue techniques / combination of movement with music that you hadn't tried. Or maybe you'll realize you don't suck near as bad as the persons class you just attended.  The point is that there will be some take aways from this other class.
  • Try a totally different format
    • Maybe go to a Zumba, Kickboxing, or any other type of class.  Variety is the spice of life.
  • Visit a variety of Spinning oriented websites (but don't forget to keep coming back here) to see what other instructors are dealing with, what music they find hot, or how they teach a song or two.
  • Sub for a couple of classes just to get new faces and new input from your participants.

Remember, everyone gets stuck in a funk every once and awhile, it's how we address the situation that determines how low or how long we stay there.

~ Spinning Freak


  1. All very true, time to make each ride individual from each other not always ADD, ADD, ADD .... explain the ride, huh?? that's what you mean, tell them a story of the ride, headwinds, rain, steep heavy hill. But what do you do with the one's you see bouncing in their seats, yet your on a very big hill?? let them go? point them out? (probably not) get off your bike and walk around and end up by them? What is it you say when you see one of your riders not having enough gear on? Great topic!!

  2. If a rider is bouncing or does not have enough resistance - I usually address the class as a whole saying " this hill is definitely getting steeper, you should feel like you are pushing through the mud, there should not be any bouncing" or " if you are not feeling this hill or you still have bounce in the saddle, then you need to add resistance - the only person that benefits is YOU". I never point out specific people unless there is danger and then I'll just casually say " ok Susan, add some resistance to support your body weight - that's perfect!" I've never had a rider feel like they were humiliated or pointed out.

  3. I agree with Cyclecity, I do the same if someone has their shoulders up near their ears, "Remember to relax your shoulders...". People will take the ride at their pace, maybe the person without the heavy gear is recovering from a cold or a hard workout. I tell my class not to cheat themselves out of the hill... that seems to work :)