by Angela Reed-Fox
No doubt you'll have come across this situation before if your venue doesn't have a policy on late class entries. We've found the following works well as a 7 step process:
1. Pre-educate your riders
Even before the situation next presents, you can prepare your riders. Educate them - let them know the reasons for warming up, what it does, the benefits to them, and also (this will tend to stick in riders' minds for longer) what they stand to lose by skipping it. If they realise there are real physiological reasons, they're more likely to take the warm-up - and you - seriously.
Remind your riders why they're warming up - for example getting into the right mindset, warming and preparing muscle tissue, cardiovascular system and lubricating joints , reducing risk of injury. Remind them that with a proper warm up they'll be able to better tackle the challenges you have planned for them, that by warming up they'll be prepared and better able to work harder (and get better results). Remind them that you've lovingly prepared the session's profile and that you don't want them to miss a second of the delights you have in store. Teaching your riders about the importance of a warmup also presents you as an expert they can trust and respect. Trust and respect are great in the long-term as you decrease incidences of lateness to your classes - but also ddevelop more of a following as riders recognise that you know what you're talking about!
You can ask them who gets the importance of a good warmup. Ask for a response. There's psychology behind this - humans are very consistent creatures. If they say they agree with something, or stand for something, they're very likely to follow this through with action. Just by allowing your riders to voice their appreciation of how important a warm-up is will help to reduce lateness, you can trust that they are more likely to act in line with what they say than go against it.
2. Keep it light - and check for injuries
Riders are there to have a good time as well as an effective workout. The great thing is they came! The less great thing is they're late. Be warm and encouraging. You're most likely going to be on the bike already when your late rider turns up. From the bike (so that you have witnesses) ask them if they have any injuries - and then pop off your bike, and go over to them, once you've given your other riders something to carry on with (either the next step of their warm up or their first challenge).
3. Check again
Once you're in front of the rider, park the microphone so you can talk solely to your latecomer. Check again that they have no injuries or other matters that you should be aware of. If you're both satisfied that your latecomer is fit to ride they will need to do a proper warm up. Give them at least 10 minutes of pedalling before you draw them into the rest of the class. You may need to reinforce why the warm up is important.
4. Don't skimp on the warm-up
Your venue may have a 10 minute rule whereby any rider arriving more than ten minutes (or other time period) may not be permitted. Different venues have different policies - this article is concerned with how you, the instructor, can respond within the confines of venue policy.
Regardless of when the rider arrives, they need to complete a full warm up. Not only does this have the obvious physiological benefits to safely prepare them for the rest of the workout, but also it emphasises that you take your class seriously, just as you take your riders' health seriously. If you skip the warm up for latecomers, it's almost a tacit encouragement for others to arrive at their own convenience, as well as portraying the warm-up as a formality that can be casually skipped.
5. Get the party started
If you haven't already, get the rest of the class started on the body of the workout. Keep an eye on your latecomer, and bring them in when they're suitably warm. If you don't have heartrate training and therefore can't see where they're at, use RPE to let them know where they should be after how long. Once they've reached the required level after the required amount of time (don't rush it!) you can join them in to what the rest of the class is doing.
6. Be nice
Always always be nice. Remember that you're there as a coach and to give your riders a great and effective experience. Riders will respect you more as an instructor if they see that you are consistent, that you care about your welfare, and that you run a great, organised class. We've not encountered any problems from riders when we follow this plan. It's light-handed, it's professional, and riders know where they are and what's expected.
7. Introduce Latecomer Policy
In most venues this will not be necessary depending on management and setup. However, if instructors are routinely struggling to balance class instruction and management through frequent or persistent latecomers, this is a step that should at least be considered. If classes are repeatedly being held up while instructors are going through the session schedule, basic instructions aand safety checks, this is a matter for both rider and instructor satisfaction. Riders who attend on time will want to be able to focus on the workout at hand, and not be distracted, or feel that latecomers get special treatment. Also, instructors deserve to be provided with an environment that makes efficiently instructing a class as easy and enjoyable as possible.
We suggest that if there are particular repeat offenders who don't respond to the above points (and we've never experienced it!) this is a matter for venue management, perhaps a brief phone call just to chat through any reasons which prevent them from arriving on time, and to reiterate the importance of riders attending classes on time both for their own benefit as well as out of respect for othr riders and the instructor. This shows that the instructor is being supported - absolutely essential.
The Indoor Cycling Institute provides policies such as this for venues wanting to improve their efficiency and business practice.
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