Looking for something to spice up your class? Try team teaching! If creating and delivering a class with another instructor is something you’d like to try, here are a few tips for a smooth process.
First up is logistics. Ideally, you’ll have access to two microphones that pair via your sound system. If not, you can share by handing off the mic between songs or intervals. I’ve had to do the share and it worked fine. The downside, besides being a bit more challenging, is that it can inhibit capturing the spontaneous banter between you and the other instructor that often makes the classes extra enjoyable.
Next, do you have room for two instructor bikes on your stage or teaching space? I know it sounds obvious but many years ago I made an assumption that two bikes could fit on our stage and I found out at the last minute I was wrong, so play with ways to alter your space set-up in advance. If you each have a microphone, you’re not limited to being next to each other.
Once you’ve conquered logistics, decide which type of class you’d like to teach. Theme rides and journey rides are excellent choices for team teaching. For example, a theme ride Pam and I did was a disco vs. rock ride. To create the playlist, we each picked rock and disco songs and paired them so that we’d alternate teaching our pairs. We shared trivia about each song, why we picked them, and a brief personal memory or comment about the song, e.g. We closed the clubs to that song! or Every road trip had that song in it. Genre vs. genre or artist vs. rides have endless combination possibilities, plus you can engage your riders by having them guess songs, share facts about the artists, or the year the songs were released.
The same applies to intensity-based interval rides. We created a Fire and Ice ride where I delivered the “fire” efforts – threshold and above – and Pam delivered the “ice” below threshold and recovery. You can reuse a profile like that over and over by simply changing the songs and switching roles or delivering it solo. We created that ride years ago and we both agree it’s still one of our most adaptable rides.
Journey rides are also perfect for team teaching. We define a journey ride as a special ride, usually 60-75 minutes, that has a specific focus and relies primarily on visualization and inner-focus. If you have the ability to use visuals they can augment the experience but are definitely optional, especially given how much time they can add to creating the ride.
My favorite Journey ride is one I created years ago (and still use) call Soul Summit. It’s a 75-minute journey that challenges riders to visualize climbing a relentless mountain through often treacherous, unpredictable terrain and weather to reach something worth fighting for – a person, an ideal, a feeling – whatever they choose. I created a slideshow that ran in the background with pictures conveying the mood, terrain and weather, and timed the display to the music and coaching. We scripted the coaching and alternated the delivery.
For a Journey ride, keeping the coaching to a minimum after the intro can be powerful. It forces you to be concise, motivational and impactful. These are time consuming rides to produce but can become special experiences for both you and your riders. If you’re fairly new to instructing, I recommend partnering with an experienced instructor.
Lastly, hype your ride. Talk it up to your classes, highlight it on your schedule and social media, and perhaps do something special with your cycle room. For the Soul Summit ride, I created a special graphic to advertise the ride and Pam bought five-dollar darkening shades to cover the glass doors to the studio. We used electric candles to frame the stage for an added dramatic touch.
Like any ride, its creation is only limited by your imagination. The benefit of a team ride is that you have two imaginations to work with!