Dear Substitute Spin Instructor

Dear Substitute Spin Instructor,

We need to have a little talk, OK? Look, I know it's your job to tell me what to do, how much gear to add, when to stand, when to sit, when to speed up, when to slow down. That's fine. I know that you're supposed to push me, to get results out of me. What you're doing, though? That's not it.

OK, so you want to throw a heavy hill climb at me? No problem. You want to keep me at a level 9 for 3 minutes? Sure. You want to pull a little bait and switch at the end of the 3 minutes and tell me to keep at it for another whole minute? OK, I can go with that. Tell me to push it? OK. And when I'm straining and I have sweat stinging my eyes and I'm panting so hard that I can't even make myself slow my breathing down, you can even shout "Are you having a good time!?" at that ridiculous moment. But, seriously? When I don't answer, don't give me that "I can't hear you!" crap. That does not inspire me. It just makes me angry.

OK, so maybe I'm stubborn enough that when you say things like "Hey if I don't hear you, I'm not letting you down!" I'm more likely to set my jaw and grimly press on rather than give you the satisfaction of hearing my voice. (As if speaking were even an option for me at that point.) Yeah, I guess that's a form of motivation. If I'm thinking to myself "I would rather puke and pass out than answer you" because of something you said, then I guess you are getting me to work. Except that ultimately what you're motivating me to do is figure out what your class schedule is so that I can avoid you completely from now on.

Oh, and another thing. If you know that you're going to be a hard ass later on, own up to it from the get-go. Don't start off the class like some kind of yoga teacher with all that "listen to your body, don't push yourself further than you can go" stuff if you know that you're going to shout "Dont you dare touch that dial!" at people when they actually do decide that they can't keep up.

Lead instead of pushing. Don't make threats. Don't be a jerk. It might work for Jillian on the Biggest Loser, but you're not dangling a big pile of money in front of me. Is all that clear?

I can't hear you!



Oh God. It's exactly for fear of people like that that I don't go to the gym.


Hilarious! Better than readers digest, by far!!!


Great post. :)


I had a volleyball coach who tried to teach us "discipline" when we didn't manage to do what he wanted. The problem was, we were playing for fun, none of us were pros. So the only thing he achieved was for us to try to play things safe instead of trying to perfect our game without caring for the occasional error. After people told him they didn't care for the discipline approach and he still didn't change, I changed clubs.

I think in your place, Mike, I would have simply stopped when I thought it was too much and told him calmly to stop shouting. Not falling into their game tends to put people off, especially when they have no authority to punish you.