Let it be known that I am a firm believer in the power of in-person fitness classes and the live studio experience. For my money, you cannot top that energy and community. That said, the past few months have offered me a unique perspective on virtual fitness instruction. Let’s dive in.
As Manager of CycleStar Talent, my entire job at CycleBar is focused on providing an exceptional workout experience across all of our 200 studios. That experience was originally meant to be in studio, face-to-face with an instructor, side-by-side with other riders. The shutdown caused our studios to add virtual classes while we flattened the curve. Many studios have continued to offer them. CycleBar has also rolled out a virtual program called CycleBar GO. Virtual is here to stay.
Likewise, our education department had to pivot toward virtual. We grounded our Master Instructor team, who under normal conditions would conduct in-person bootcamps for studio openings, as well as continuing education and quality control. We had to change our entire system of talent development from face-to-face to virtual training in the span of weeks. Like many, my eyeballs have been glued to a screen for months now, analyzing instructors, taking and teaching virtual classes, and trying to understand how best to provide a premium product with a disrupted supply line. This entire experience has shifted my perspective and understanding of what fitness instruction is and could be. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Great instructors transcend physical space.
I have taken MANY virtual classes across a diverse array of disciplines the last several months. Most have been primarily directional; they’ve given me a sequence of movements and kept me on track. Some have been directional and motivational. Those instructors made me push harder. Then, there are those who, despite being on a screen, have inspired me. This is not inspiration as an abstraction; this is inspiration manifest into sweat through heightened effort and belief. Belief is so hard to come by anymore, and that is why it is so powerful. Motivation can change your body; belief can change the world.
I would like to highlight a few instructors that make me believe.
Donna Cennamano is a Senior Master Instructor and teaches indoor cycling at CycleBar Burridge. Donna doesn’t yell, she doesn’t drill you with commands and grand exclamations. Her words are motherly, and her pedaling is poetry. To ride with her is to inch toward idealism.
Kelsey Sheahan of Sweat Den, who just dropped a virtual membership platform, is human fire. She is one of the most talented communicators I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and sweating with. Her ability to communicate action with intensity and belief during a workout is what elevates her to enigmatic status.
Belief also comes from wisdom and action. To that point, Teddi Bryant of Hot Mamas Exercise, who also offers virtual classes, is a national treasure. Teddi has been teaching her own brand of dance aerobics for decades, and the confidence in her movements is profound. She is a General that does not order you into battle, but fights with you, side-by-side. After her class, you will go to war with her – if you can still stand. She also has a beautiful sense of humor, which is oh so refreshing in this day and age.
There are more transcendent instructors out there, and we’ll be highlighting them in the future. In the meantime, I want to step up my game. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sending out a series of rides to our MOTIVATE subscribers, so please spread the word and help us build our community.
My goal is to transcend physical space. To inspire. To make you believe.