In the first of a new series of interviews, we catch up with members of the ‘Performance Cycling family’ to find out how their lives and careers have progressed since graduating from the course. Today we chatted to instructor Mark …
My name is Mark Pepper, and I believe I was one of Debbie’s very first students. I'm 61 now, and a chartered accountant by day.
About 35 years ago I was suffering from depression brought on by the stress of my job and my GP suggested I should have a proper exercise routine as an alternative to medication.
As I had always enjoyed cycling I took part in an indoor cycling class when they started at the Village Hotel in Warrington, and it became a regular part of my week. The social aspect together with the exercise was perfect for me and my wife, although I've always been a little more addicted than she is!
I was always interested in the technique and the biomechanics of indoor cycling so I joined a weekend residential course to learn more, but I was also the only one who did every session, engaged with the instructors or even appeared to want to be there. Soon after, I was asked at short notice to provide emergency cover for a class, and although I felt unprepared, I did it.
That experience proved to me that I needed to know more, and that I should find a better course and that’s when I found Performance Cycling.
I was given a recommendation for Debbie’s course from the Village in Warrington, as she was teaching at their Bromborough gym at that point, and they had been very impressed.
Debbie’s teaching is infectiously encouraging and her course gave me the confidence to get up in front of a class and teach. And I still hear her voice in the back of my head whenever I try something new in a class.
That and a sense of what is good practice have been particularly valuable. The use of music and the way the body responds during exercise have also stayed with me, as before that I’d never give much thought to either.
The course material was intuitive and well prepared, and I enjoyed it so much that I did the course again a couple of years later to use for a refresher!
Believe it or not, this was never intended to be a career, it was just a hobby that I enjoyed and wanted to understand.
After 25 years nothing lifts my spirit like an indoor cycling class, even when I’m not teaching it, which I do a lot too. I have used the training to feed my addiction!
I can still take classes to a maximum of about 10 per week - not bad while holding down a full time job. I only teach in one place, I do it because I love it and they let me run the class as I see fit.
I hope that I manage to do Debbie proud but I fear that sometimes I get carried away, it’s become as much of a performance as instruction.
The routine and the structure to get away from my desk and exercise has been fantastic for my mental health, and has also pushed me to learn other new skills.
I knew how I wanted my class to sound but I couldn’t quite get there, so these included a crash course with a local music school which taught me how to put together a set list, how to use the energy and how to keep people interested in the set. I have also added club lighting in the studio, controlled from an iPad by the bike. The lights build and change with the music to enhance the space and encourage the participants.
Debbie is excellent at getting the best from people, and won’t compromise on a high professional standard.
I feel like everybody working in fitness should take her course, even if they have no intention of making a career of it, because we should all strive to learn more about what we do and the skills Debbie teaches are invaluable and would translate in many areas of fitness.
There are other great courses out there, but some lack soul.
We need the instructors who can respond to a class of mixed ability and keep everybody happy; people who will inspire others who didn’t even know they were looking for inspiration.
That’s where Debbie stands out head and shoulders above the rest.
For more information about Performance Cycling – online and live courses – please visit www.performance-cycling.net