Lessons from a Spin Class

The first gym I joined in Riga wasn’t great; I left after a month. Despite being instructed in English, the first spin cycling class I attended was particularly bad, and it put me off going back.

– The instructor ate up 20 minutes of the hour-long session giving a detailed explanation. It was the end of a long day at work; did he think we were taking it in, or maybe it was just an ego boost?

– When we did finally start pedalling, the instructor explained everything we had to do, rather than giving us a visual example by hopping on the bike.

– The intense sets were immediately followed by intense sets, which were immediately followed by intense sets. The instructor never gave us a chance to catch our breaths. Result: slumping intensity and motivation levels.

– The instructor didn’t stop yapping at any point, even when we were concentrating on tricky new techniques. In the end, it became just white noise in the background.

*Replace instructor with English teacher and you have a common problem in classrooms all over.

  • The more the teacher is speaking, the less learners are doing. Who is most important in the classroom? Are they going to learn more by spectating or doing?
  • Long-winded explanations cut into valuable time, and often bore learners to distraction.
  • Seeing language in context is usually more valuable than hearing a lecture about it. Model!
  • Give learners time to ‘catch their breath’ between rounds of effort. The physical burnout in the spinning class is like mental burnout in the classroom. The brain is a muscle!
  • Silence is (sometimes) golden. Learners need time to focus on a tricky questions and process new language without being overloaded with more listening.
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