Key Tips for Indoor Cycling Instructors

An excellent group fitness instructor can motivate and energize a group of participants, help them attain their fitness goals and keep them coming back. As in every group exercise class, the group indoor cycling instructor serves as a coach, a cheerleader and an educator. The careful balance of all three roles makes for a dynamic class environment and a successful indoor cycling program.

Following are teaching tips specific to indoor cycling that every instructor should keep in mind when conducting an indoor cycling class:

1. Proper bike fit. Indoor cycling is relatively strenuous on the body, as the hip and knee joints move through limited ranges of motion at varied resistance levels during a typical class. Therefore, it is crucial that all participants are fitted properly on their bikes the first time they attend a class. Perhaps most important are the saddle height for adequate knee and hip flexion/
extension, and the fore/aft adjustment for knee position.

2. Safety review. No matter how many classes your participants have attended, it never hurts to review operation of the emergency brake and correct adjustment of the pedal straps and shoelaces.

3. Cadence ranges. Once the workout is underway, instructors should spend time explaining the interplay of cadence and resistance. Both high cadence/low resistance and low cadence/high resistance combinations can be stressful and unsafe for hip and knee joints. Counting cadence rhythms, using the music beat or demonstrating a relevant range are all tools that an instructor can use.

4. Workout intensity. Indoor cycling instructors are there to encourage class members to work at their own intensity range, and to provide clear guidelines on where riders should be at each stage of the workout. Relating workout intensity to heart rate, perceived exertion or simple examples of what the drill should feel like helps class members gauge where they are and what they should expect throughout the workout.

5. Form and technique. Frequent reminders on neutral spine alignment, pedaling stroke and knee and hand position are essential. As riders get tired and forgetful, their form inevitably suffers. An instructor who gives varied visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues for the same technique will be more successful in reaching all class members and will avoid sounding like a broken record.

6. Class atmosphere. The best way to create a positive class atmosphere is with a great sense of humor, a welcoming demeanor and an adaptable workout. A genuine and friendly demeanor, direct and unintimidating eye contact, and sincere interest for class members’ health and well-being are all key factors in making everyone feel welcome. Giving resistance or cadence options while climbing a steep hill will help beginners feel as successful as experienced riders, while both will be achieving the same goal.

7. Workout plan. A workout is a lot more manageable for the class when an instructor has a clear plan of the ride ahead. Tell class members how many more intervals they will be doing and explain each workout segment so that they are clear on what you are asking them to do.

Calling out exactly how many more seconds are left until the end of a sprint will give class members the opportunity to gauge their efforts.

8. Importance of recovery. When designing an indoor cycling workout, take into consideration the important role of recovery. Because indoor cycling can be an intense cardiovascular activity, recovery will improve the quality of the overall workout and provide for social time in the class; something that is very relevant to riding outdoors in a group.

9. Tune into class members’ needs. Have you ever attended classes where the instructors are clearly there to get their own workouts? Particularly in indoor cycling where coaching is everything, instructors need to be there for the participants’ workouts, not their own. This includes getting off the bike to demonstrate correct form and technique, and choosing music that spans a wide range of taste.

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