5 Things to be on the Lookout for in your Indoor Cycling Class

Have you ever walked out of an indoor cycling class feeling like you just got an awesome workout, and then wondered with time where that back/knee/neck/shoulder pain came from? Or ask yourself how come you’re not seeing the results you want even though you work so hard?

I know I have – for a long time, until I went through Spinning® instructor training and realized how many things can go wrong in an indoor cycling class without you even knowing.

It is not always your instructor’s fault (even though most of the time it is) – I encourage you to educate yourself before starting an indoor cycling exercise program and make sure you are following the safety guidelines. Not following them seems harmless but it sure is dangerous in the long run.

I’ve recently taken a class with a new instructor, which inspired me to write this post today hoping that at least my readers could educate themselves on the basic rules of a safe indoor cycling class and be able to recognize an unprofessional instructor.

Here are some of the things to be on the lookout for when taking an indoor cycling class:

{ONE} Bike Set-Up

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When you walked into that class for the first time, did your instructor come over to introduce him/her-self and help you set up your bike?

Did he/she ask if there were any students in the class who were completely new to indoor cycling or needed help setting up their bikes?

If yes, you’re good as long as they helped you setup your bike correctly.

If not – you are at risk of setting it up wrong without professional guidance, which can lead to bad riding form and eventually – injuries.

If you’re in a class that uses one of the Spinner® bike models, you can read about proper bike set up here before the class. Otherwise – please, speak up and ask your instructor for help.

Speak up and ask your instructor for help in any case. Don’t be shy!

Write down your bike settings for future classes.

{TWO} Funky Moves

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So you got your bike set up properly and you’re all ready to go. The music is great, the instructor is “on fire”…Perfect! Here are some “funky” moves you should be on the lookout for and should not do in order to avoid discomfort, pain, and/or injuries:

  • Hovering/Isolation
  • Extending your arms to hand position 3 while seated
  • Using free weights while on the bike
  • Riding with no resistance on the fly wheel
  • Doing squats while on the bike
  • Letting go of handlebars during a standing climb or standing flat/running
  • Pushups (yes, some people actually do that while on the bike)
  • Placing your foot on handlebars while stretching

There’s more. The things above are just a few of the most common contraindicated moves. You can read more about contraindications for the Spinning® program and Spinner® bikes here.

The rule of thumb is – Keep It Real! In other words – if you wouldn’t do it on a regular bike, don’t do it on the stationary bike.

Would you ride on the road with weights in your hands? Exactly!

Read more about what keeping it real means and what it doesn’t in this great article by Jennifer Sage – the founder of the Indoor Cycling Association.

If the instructor in the class you attend suggests any of the moves above, remember: it is your ride, your body and your health – you decide what to do. You don’t have to do something your instructor tells you that you know is wrong and/or not safe.

{THREE} Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

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Take a note: does your instructor wear a HRM? Does he/she encourage the class participants to purchase and use one? Does he/she refer to the % of max heart rate during training?

Monitoring your heart rate is of crucial importance in achieving your fitness goals. Training without it is like walking in the darkness – how do you know how hard you’re working unless you know your heart rate? You can’t rely solely on the perceived exertion – both that and the HR need to be taken into account.

Consider purchasing a heart rate monitor even if your instructor makes no reference to HR in class, take note of your HR during the ride.

Be smart about your training – read more about effective training based on heart rate and Energy Zones.

{FOUR} Resistance Control

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Does your instructor come up to you during the class to adjust the resistance on your bike’s flywheel?

If yes – never come back to that class again.

Period.

You are the one in control of your workout. You are the one who decides how hard you can and will work.

If your instructor received proper training, they would have been strongly discouraged to even suggest increasing resistance in any measurable amounts. Suggestions to increase resistance are totally normal and necessary to explain and implement the riding profile for the class, but telling you how much you should add (half turn, full turn, quarter turn) is not. Adjusting it for you is unacceptable.

{FIVE} Who’s getting a workout?

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Ever feel like it is your instructor’s workout not yours?

Does your instructor get off the bike during the class to walk around and help people in the class?

A good instructor does. He/she also remembers that it is not his/her workout, but yours. It surely is inspiring to see your instructor sweating just like you, but things look a little different to the instructor when they get off the bike and walk around to check on their students’ form, heart rates, answer possible questions and help out if somebody needs them.

I hope the tips above can help you in achieving your fitness goals without getting injured – regardless of the level of your instructor’s professionalism. Even though it is your instructor’s job to guide you and keep you safe during the class, remember that you’re in charge of that bike and that puts a lot of responsibility on you, too.

Educate yourself in advance and enjoy the ride!

Lena

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Comments

  1. Great TIPS! I want to take spinning again and I will be mindful of these when choosing a class.
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  2. Thank you so much Lena that was such great advice and I am so happy that I am following it. I am that instructor who gets off her bike and walks around. I’m happy that I’m that instructor who reminds her riders it’s their ride not mine or anyone else’s.

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