6 Tips for #indoorcycling Instructors on how to Remember Names

4One of the hallmarks of engaging indoor cycling instructors is their unique ability to remember the names of those in class. Although it is easier to remember the names of frequent riders or when the class numbers are small, it is far more difficult to remember names of riders in a larger class or when you are teaching a brand new class. Why remember names you ask? Accurately remembering names is one of the most important components of interacting with people. For fitness and indoor cycling classes, remembering names creates a bond of awareness and engagement. A person’s name is the single most important word to him/her; their name defines their identity as an individual, and when you greet them as they come into class, they will instantly be engaged. Think about the times you’ve felt special when someone you admired, like your school teacher or mentor, addressed you by your name in a sincere tone. Alternatively, think of how you felt when someone called you by the wrong name, or worse, made fun of your name.

As indoor cycling instructors, we are considered the SMEs – subject matter experts. When you lead a class, you can make a deeper impact by remembering your riders’ first names and by using their names to encourage and inspire them. After all, you may only see them once a week. So remembering their names will have a lasting impression. There are numerous techniques that have been extensively researched on how to remember names. As an indoor cycling instructor, here are 6 tips that I use that will make it easier to remember first names:

1.    Make the first name, and only the first name, the focus of the first interaction
When you introduce yourself to a new rider, ask only for the first name. This will make it 50% easier to remember that name. There is no need to ask for the last name. Then, as soon as they say their first name, you must immediately use it by saying something like “Nice to meet you Kara”. Instantly thereafter, reinforce the name by asking a question such as, “Is that Kara with a K or with a C?”. Or if the name is somewhat uncommon, ask them to spell it under the humorous pretense that you do not want to mess it up. Finally, display a humble approach by saying, “Kara, I will probably ask you 5 more times to remind me of your first name as I am very bad with remembering names – so sorry”.

2.    Make an extra effort to learn foreign-sounding names
I teach at several studios with a very diverse clientele. Some of my students’ names are difficult to pronounce. hThese students will especially appreciate it if you correctly remember their names when so many others botch the pronunciation. Start off, apologetically and with a big smile, with something like this (when faced with someone whose name is very unusual): “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Can you go a little slow?” As soon as they repeat the name, focus on the phonetic spelling, which is far easier to remember. Then immediately try to associate the name with something you can easily relate to. For example, for a name like “Anzhelika”, think of Angelica, or for a name like “Hemantharaju”, think of it rhyming with Mount Kilimanjaro. As soon as you make the association, repeat the name to them and ask if you got it right. They will certainly appreciate the sincerity of your effort.

3.    Write it down
If the above two methods fail, this old trick still works! Whenever I see a new rider, I grab a small notepad that I keep in my gym bag, walk up to them and introduce myself. Upon learning of their name, I immediately write it down. Don’t worry too much about the spelling. This way, if there are several new riders, you can easily note their names.

4.    Find an association trigger
Try to associate names with things people are wearing or by things they tell you about themselves. For example, Bob is an avid golfer and he always wears golf-inspired apparel to indoor cycling class (yes, true story). Janet loves to cook, always talks about hosting parties and brings her famous chili to the studio for a monthly charitable event. With triggers like these, it is easier to recall the names due to the corresponding association.

5.    Speak it up
images-24One of the ways I encourage my riders during a difficult drill, is by using visual cues as well as their names. For example, “Jill, I know you love to climb. Just stay seated as the resistance builds, then when you feel you can no longer stay in the saddle, I want you to summon that last bit of energy and attack that hill as you climb.” This is an effective way to add a unique association factor that also results in a positive or encouraging call to action for that rider. Another example: towards the end of the ride, I start calling first names (as many as possible) and say to them: “Marc, Amy, Sandra, Melissa,….this is the last hill, let’s empty the tanks and then go for our victory lap”. The more you do this, the easier it will become to remember more names.

6.    Don’ts
It is not that easy to remember the names of all the riders in every class, especially if you teach several classes a week at different studios. Regardless of how many classes you teach, avoid these pitfalls:
– Don’t call people by the wrong name
– Don’t call people by alternate names or nicknames if they haven’t first permitted it
– Don’t make fun of someone’s name or mock its pronunciation/spelling

– Don’t use the open mic to call out a rider if you notice unsafe behavior. Instead dismount and approach them individually.


How do you remember your riders’ names? Share your tricks with me using the comments section below.




How to Teach the Greatest #IndoorCycling Class….by Tina Kim

Tina, a fellow indoor cycling instructor based in Los Angeles, has created a one-of-a-kind course on udemy, the online TinaKimlearning platform. Tina invested about 300 hours shooting videos, editing content and creating the routines for this class.

From Tina’s course description: “In this course you’ll learn how to teach a nonstop cycling class based on timed roads, not songs & the do’s and don’ts of teaching a functional indoor cycling class. You’ll never have to put a playlist together again after this course. You’ll always be ready to teach any kind of indoor cycling class in seconds and have thousands of songs ready for your ride. After this course you’ll be able to find songs and edit songs for your class and never teach the same class twice. I designed this course for anyone interested in learning how to put together an indoor cycling class in seconds. It contains song lists, song breakdowns, charts, audios and examples, so you’ll feel like you’re right next to me learning this course.”

Tina has provided me with a special discount to share with my readers. You can take Tina’s class using your computer or mobile device for a 70% discount with this special link: https://www.udemy.com/how-to-teach-the-greatest-indoor-cycling-class/?couponCode=tomsblog. A downloadable ebook is also available when you attend the class. But hurry, this link will only be available for the first 50 readers. So I encourage you to experience this engaging and entertaining class as soon as possible. A udemy account is required.

Find out more about Tina, a comedienne and writer, through her website, by visiting her Facebook page or following her on Twitter @tkcomic.

Thank you Tina. Wishing you continued success.

Ride On

How to Successfully Plan & Execute a 2 Hour #IndoorCycling Ride in 6 Steps

A 2 hour indoor cycling class is quite a challenge even for seasoned riders and instructors. Such ride can be done in the context of a fund raiser or simply to create a unique and demanding challenge. You may be wondering why 2 hours? If you have taken a 60 or 90minute class, you probably wondered ….how far can I push the limits and how much more can I endure? I was recently asked to deliver a 2 hour ride at three separate locations (on three separate dates for the same fitness chain) and I thought that I should finally formalize what I would consider to be the critical factors to ensure that you have a successful ride, and more importantly to inspire your riders to bring back the 2 hour ride again and again!!


Step 1: Why 2 hours?

When pitching the ride to your studio’s management or even your students, you have to be clear on the benefits of such a cycle1prolonged ride as well as its unique advantages. The most important selling point is the personal challenge such a ride can pose. Are you ready to see how far you can go? Are you ready to set new personal bests? Are you ready to overcome barriers and push through to new heights? These are some of the questions you can use on posters, social media or the studio’s website to elicit a direct, powerful and engaging response from indoor cycling riders who consider themselves to be the elite. Sure, some may have done two or even three classes in a day, but have they sustained a single ride for 2 hours?

Step 2: Clearly Identify The Benefits

It is not enough to ask the hard hitting questions. It is equally important to identify the target goals of the 2 hour ride. For spinexample, with the help of HRM and Power metrics (e.g. Performance IQ or Polar devices), you can set specific and measurable deliverables such as power achieved, distance traveled, calories expended, heart rate thresholds, etc. For many tech-savvy riders, these metrics will appeal to them because they can see themselves reaching new heights and establishing new baselines for their desired personal workout goals. However, do not be exclusive. This ride should not specifically target just elite riders – it is open to any rider, regardless of age, gender or fitness abilities. This way, your message is inclusive and will appeal to a wider audience from which you can create a buzz for future rides.

Step 3: Promote The Event

Come up with a unique slogan for this event and ask your studio to promote it on social media and their website. Use your own cycle1social media outlets to invite riders and further promote the ride. A recent 120 minute ride I conducted had this as its slogan: CYCLE 4-3-2-1: 4 Instructors, 3 Zones, 2 Hours, 1 Epic Ride (yes, that was a multi-instructor event). Additionally:

  • Communicate (through social media or other tools) to the riders about start time, location and the ride’s profile.
  • Ask your riders for music suggestions. If they contribute, chances are they will show up.

Step 4: Come Prepared & Make Sure They Are Prepared

As an instructor, this special ride requires careful profile planning and music selection (more on that next). Here are some other items to pay attention to:

  • Do not teach a regular class prior to the 120 minute class. Come well rested and hydrated. Eat a light meal an hour before the start of class.
  • If budget allows it, bring a case of bottled water, energy bars and fresh fruit. Riders will appreciate that, especially those who did not prepare well.
  • Bring an extra towel, extra batteries, a backup music source and wear your favorite outfit.
  • If you feel your audience would be receptive, bring some affordable “dollar store” items such as noise makers, light sticks, etc.
  • Bring your camera/mobile phone to take pictures for posting on social media.
  • Bring an ice pack or two. Some riders will discover new pains as they ride for 2 hours. Having an ice pack or two will help alleviate the pains and prevent unnecessary cramping.

Step 5: Carefully Craft The Ride’s Profile & Music

I know you have been teaching for many years and you can instruct a 60 or 90 minutes class with little planning. On the otheradvanced_indoor_cycling_workout hand, a 120 minute ride requires careful scripting of routines and companion music for some very important reasons:

  • Your profile should have a balance between prolonged climbs, seated drills and combinations. Do not focus on just one drill – keep it varied, keep them interested and keep it moving!!
  • Your profile should have enough recovery times so that you do not burn the riders out.
  • You must pace the class and be clear about effort/energy output. Set targets for every 30 minutes using your power meter (if available).
  • Temper your own expectations: During my most recent 120 minute class, we started with 36 riders. After 60 minutes, 4 dropped off. After 75 minutes, 3 more dropped off. After 90 minutes, 27 riders remained. At the 120 minute mark, only 22 riders finished the class. The 120 minute ride is not for every rider. Some may try to see how far they can go. Some may try to complete it. Do not be alarmed if only a few riders remain for your first 120 minute ride.
  • Brush up on cues and write them down so that you do not “sound like a broken record”. Since the riders will be hearing you for 120 minutes, consider the “less is more” approach when verbally engaging the room.

Step 6: Acknowledge The Accomplishment

Riding for a sustained 2 hours in a remarkable milestone, irrespective of your fitness levels. As you coach your riders into accomplishment-clip-art-free-1874170unchartered territory, you will find that some will develop a new found confidence in their abilities to meet the challenge and overcome it. Your job is not to please everybody, but to focus on those who are willing to advance beyond personal limitations. You must reward their accomplishment: door prizes (something affordable), a personal acknowledgement on the studio’s website or your social media feed, will go a long way towards earning the bragging rights for having completed 120 minutes of an indoor cycling ride.

Ride on.


9 Tips & Tricks to Designing & Successfully Implementing an #IndoorCycling Program for Kids

kidsEarlier this summer, I was approached by the group fitness manager where I teach indoor cycling to ask me about creating a special cycling class for kids, 10-14 years old. Having done that previously, I inquired about the group’s overall fitness goals, fitness levels and goals behind such a class. With that information in mind, I created a 3 month program called “Summer Fit, School Fit” with the goal to get kids actively involved in one cycling class per week, for three months and concluding this program in time to start school in September. Here are some recommendations, tips and tricks to help you deliver a successful indoor cycling class or a complete indoor cycling program for this age group:

  1. Always lead, but accept the chaos: In the first class, I attempted to setup each kid properly (seat height, handlebars, etc.) but managed to confuse all of them. Kids have a shorter attention span and trying to explain the mechanics of the bike and its setup proved to be futile. Case in point: I had 20 kids and when I started setting up the first bike, the remaining 19 kids were already on their bikes and pedaling away. However, here is an interesting observation: within a few seconds, the kids who were setup too high or too low stopped, dismounted and asked for my help. Needless to say, I spent the first 20 minutes setting up bikes and then, we finally got the 30 minute class started (and did only 10 minutes of work!!).
  2. Assign bikes & tag them with setup details (if repeating the class): Much like in a school setting, kids gravitate to their favorite desk (and thus a bike) and tend to keep it for the rest of the school year. After struggling with the setup, I used index cards to write each kid’s name and their setup numbers (I was using Kesier M3 bikes which have numbers and letters on the handlebar and seat). I taped the card to the corresponding bike. In the next class, we were up and running in 5 minutes as each kid went directly to their bike and looked at the card for easy reference.
  3. 843491_x5-right-side-viewDon’t be concerned with ride mechanics or power, but focus on safety: From the first class, some kids just wanted to pedal so fast to get the computer display to show the highest possible RPM’s. I tried to explain some of the fundamentals of speed and resistance, but that was too technical. Kids want to have fun and that theme should remain paramount. So without much fuss, I instead shifted the focus onto safety and asked the kids to make sure the seat is securely locked, their feet are secured in the cage and showed them how to apply the emergency break. Three simple safety procedures that they can all remember.
  4. Focus on fun, and use teams drills: Trying to get the kids to focus on a climb or a specific routine was challenging at times. However, trying the same routine by using a team approach yielded better results. For example, I split the group of 20 in 4 teams of 5 kids each. I gave them unique names (Team Blue, Team Red, etc.) and when the routine started, I assigned each team a task. This way they remained focused on one objective. When one team started a task such as a climb, I asked the remaining teams to pedal at moderate speeds but cheer on the team that is currently climbing. Because their friends were on that team, kids felt engaged and participated in all of the remaining drills. As we alternated turns, every kid got a chance to participate in a drill and cheer their friends.
  5. listCurate a playlist: All of this would not have been easy without a properly curated playlist. So how does an adult like me curate a playlist for 10-14 year old kids? Simple, call on your kids (if you have any in the age group), your nieces, nephews and friends’ kids. Ask them what is popular, what they listen to, names of artists, characters in favorite TV shows and the like. You want to show that you are connected to your participants. So the playlist included songs they are familiar with, songs they can sing to and songs that come from popular TV shows or movies. While there are plenty of songs and playlists to choose from, I picked songs performed by Kidz Bop which are mainstream and clean (click the image to enlarge).
  6. Don’t forget hydration & recovery: Both of these elements are equally important for adults as well as for kids. I brought a case of water to class as I did not expect the kids to have water bottles. Sure enough, they did not and having water on hand is much better than having to stop for a water break and disrupt the follow of class.
  7. _580_1000_90_1325983871964592107Breaks, engagement & rewards: Treating this class as if it were in a school setting, I give the kids 1-2 minute breaks every 10 minutes and asked them about their reaction, what they liked and what they did not like. Keeping them engaged prevented them from drifting away and becoming distracted. Next, I engaged them with simple Q&A (while on the bike as well when walking around the room) such as what is their favorite subject in school, favorite teacher, favorite foods, best movie and so on. Once they were given an opportunity to participate, they appeared more at ease on the bike and getting back to drills was not as difficult. Finally, I purchased small gifts to hand out when they answered my questions and also give them additional gifts at the end of each class. Some of these gifts included sports bottles that can be refilled, medals for completing a routine, glow sticks, glow bracelets and the like.
  8. Kids-Spin-BikeFollow proven recommendations: Spinning(R) suggests that “Spinner bikes are suitable for individuals who are at least 4 feet, 11 inches tall; however, this is not an exact minimum height, because leg and torso length are also determining factors.”
  9. Define program rules: As a good steward for indoor cycling programs, you and your facility’s general manager should collaborate on ensuring that the following rules are in place (adapted from Spinning.com):
  • Be sure to have a signed permission slip on file from a parent or guardian before any participant under the age of 18 gets on a bike.
  • Get a parent or legal guardian’s contact information, a release of liability waiver, and any relevant health information (e.g., if a child has asthma).
  • Request that participants who have asthma or other medical conditions inform you, and that they bring their inhalers or other necessary medications to class.
  • Have a strict, no-nonsense policy against horseplay on or around the bikes.
  • Be sure that shoe laces are securely tied and not in danger of getting wrapped up on a pedal or crank arm.

With the program I designed and implemented, I felt that a significant impact can be made on kids who may not participate in regular physical activities. By sharing with them the concept, application and benefits of indoor cycling, my hope is that those kids, one day, will embark on their fitness journey and chart a course for a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. kidsworkout Ride On. Tom

5 Critical Success Factors: Delivering a Tour De France #Indoorcycling Class

map_routeEach year in July, the Tour De France inspires many riders to exceed their potential, find new heights and achieve the elusive goal of winning the most prestigious cycling competition in the world. Over the past few years, I have incorporated videos of “Le Tour” stages in my indoor cycling classes. These rides, 60 minutes each, are meant to expose indoor cycling riders to the competitive nature of riding in a race, as well as to some unique aspects of outdoor competitive cycling such as: riding near the threshold, riding in a peloton, alternating between endurance stages and attack stages, time trials, team pursuits and mountain climbing.

Although the concept is exciting and leads to a nice break from teaching traditional indoor cycling classes, I have established the following success factors that you need to pay close attention to if you plan on implementing a “Le Tour” video ride at your studio or gym.

The 5 Critical Success Factors – Pre-requisites:

  1. Plan ahead – at least 30 days prior to the class, make an announcement in your regular classes and repeat the announcements at subsequent classes. If you have multiple rides planned, announce those as well (see example below).stages
  2. Ask your facility’s group fitness manager or communication staff to include the ride’s date and time in their emails, tweets, blog posts and social media posts. Creating awareness is critical.
  3. Obtain the necessary videos and companion music (check if licensing or fees are required), practice the ride and routine and make sure any audio/video equipment that is needed is available and in working order.

The 5 Critical Success Factors

  1. 66_20140722_©BrakeThrough-Media_DSC9655-659x440This is NOT Interval Indoor Cycling: While obvious to us indoor cycling instructors (especially if you ride outdoors), this is a really important notion to impart onto your riders. Typically, most indoor cycling riders do not ride outdoors. They are used to indoor interval routines, where music, tempo and instructor cueing help them achieve specific goals. With a “Le Tour” video ride, there are significant differences, where for example, you are in the seated position in a peloton, plugging away at threshold or tempo levels (90-100 rpms) for prolonged periods exceeding 10 minutes. For indoor cycling, staying seated for that long is somewhat unusual and to many, uncomfortable. Similarly, there are portions of a “Le Tour” ride when a breakaway occurs and you reach anaerobic levels (>110 rpms) to overtake the leader. While doable in indoor cycling, the pace and intensity as well as duration may not be in line with what indoor cyclists expect.
  2. The Playlist will be different: The majority of “Le Tour” videos I use have an already paired playlist, mostly instrumental with no lyrics. If your indoor cycling group is used to certain motifs (EDM, Pop/Hip Hop, Motown, etc.), or used to “your” style of music as the instructor, the video tour will certainly be quite different. Make sure they are aware of this during the communication stage I described in the pre-requisites.
  3. tour-de-france-2015-video-game-screenshots_0002_Layer-48The Video is your Competition: Most indoor cycling classes feature a two-dimensional approach: the instructor’s cues, and the music+routine. With a “Le Tour” video ride, a third dimension is introduced, the video itself, whereby riders are now paying attention to the screen upfront and they are following the pack. As an instructor, your role will be sidelined a bit. You should still cue and provide motivation, encouragement and anticipation to changes in levels (for example when a climb is coming or when a breakaway is about to occur). However, I would suggest you cut back on the amount of cueing and let the riders make an immersive connection to the video. I believe this makes the ride more effective. In other words, do not be a distraction.
  4. Make it Educational: While all indoor cycling participants are looking to work out, there are rare opportunities to educate them on the particulars of something as popular as the Tour De France. If possible, and if you are using Microsoft PowerPoint, you can have companion slides along with the video that you can use to share certain facts such as the distance of “Le Tour”, the number of riders, funny tidbits about food consumption and country facts (see screen shots of slides below).
    tdf1 tdf2
  5. Listen for Feedback: When the ride is over, encourage the participants to share with you and the rest of the group how they felt, suggestions for improvement, what they liked or disliked and if they wish to see this type of ride repeated. Over the years, I’ve had groups who loved the Tour De France video ride, groups who hated it and others who wanted something different such as videos for Pikes Peak, Colorado state park rides, mountain biking and cyclocross.

If you are planning on a video ride, ensure your group is aware of it, preparing them for the key differences and enlist the help of your facility’s marketing team to spread the word.

“Bon chance et merci”.


5 Basic Facts – Lactate Threshold for #IndoorCycling Riders: What You Need To Know

In today’s indoor cycling ride, a few riders approached me about lactic acid, the infamous “burn” they experience and the need to know more about lactic threshold when planning their spring rides. As the weather improves towards the end of February and beginning of March, some of my indoor riders seek a gradual start to their outdoor training.

Some riders are new at this interesting combo: indoor cycling during the week (before or after work), then longer outdoor rides during weekends. To help these riders, I prepared a summary of the five basic facts every rider should know about lactic acid, its production, its impact and the benefits of lactic threshold training.

The best way to communicate this information is in this handy quick reference guide (click for full-size):


Ride strong.



7 Mistakes You Might be Making in #IndoorCycling Classes

Many of us indoor cycling instructors see this too often: a rider is late, they hop on a bike and start climbing. Within seconds, the handlebars fall/drop. Or, you notice someone bouncing almost uncontrollably. And, sometimes a rider suddenly hops off the bike and rushes out (to leave). These are just few of the common mistakes that we see repeatedly.

As instructors, the safety of our riders and the effectiveness of their work out are our top priorities. Here are some of the mistakes that you might be making (click to enlarge the quick reference guide below):



Ride safely.


Efficient Indoor Cycling Power & Recovery Pedal Stroke

According to Master Spin Instructor Sabrina Fairchild: “The pedal stroke has two phases: the power phase and the recovery phase, which can be broken up into four quadrants. Quadrant one of the power phase is where the foot is parallel to the floor and the rider pushes the foot forward. Quadrant two of the power phase is where the rider pushes the heel downward. What may be misunderstood about the power phase is that it is not a constant vertical push because the foot is traveling in a circle. The power phase is traveling forward at the same time it is traveling downward, and the most powerful point of that is at 90 degrees.

Quadrant three of the recovery phase is where the foot is parallel to the floor again and the rider is drawing the heel straight back. Quadrant four of the recovery phase is when the heel lifts slightly. This fourth segment is the least understood as many instructors cue the hamstrings to draw the leg up, but it is actually done via the hip flexors, so the hamstrings are the antagonist. At the back of the pedal stroke the foot should feel “unweighted” while the opposite foot is doing the work in its power phase. A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on pulling up on the back side of the pedal stroke all the time, but the only time the recovery phase has any pulling up is during climbing and sprinting due to the amount of resistance on the flywheel.”


A Quick Reference Guide to Spinning Energy Zones for Heart Rate Training

According to spinning.com, the Spinning Energy Zones are divided into five different heart rate ranges that emphasize a different workout intensity. Working in each Energy Zone is important for a balanced exercise program, which improves all aspects of your fitness, including mental and physical endurance, strength and performance.

Below is a quick reference guide/infographic that summarize these zones and target hear rates (click to enlarge):




Sempre Avanti!




Supercharge Your Indoor Cycling Warm-up

I recently participated in an open audition at a national indoor cycling chain. At the end of the 10min demo (warm up, climb, pursuit, cool down), I received positive feedback about my routine, tempo, style, cues, technicals and overall presentation. However, I was told that at “…. we don’t do warm ups/cool downs, we just dive into it”. They politely thanked me. They didn’t say it, but it was a “no”.

But it got me thinking that warm up/cool downs are an essential component, not only in spinning or indoor cycling, but in mostly every fitness routine out there. Particularly, I found it somewhat impractical to start an indoor cycling class with a climb or a sprint. I usually use my warm up (about 4-5mins) to prepare the class, outline the ride, explain what we need to do and generally focus everyone’s attention – a system’s check if you will. Then we lift off.

So for those who consider warm ups/cool downs to be passé or unnecessary, I would politely and professionally disagree. Below is my quick reference guide that will help you better understand the importance of a warm up and how it contributes to the efficiency and improved results of your indoor cycling journey (additional details: http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/better-winter-warm). Click the graphic to view a larger version.


Hill Climbing Techniques & Benefits

According to spinning.com, “in Spinning classes, we put resistance on the bike to simulate climbing hills. This type of training develops cardiovascular strength and muscular power by increasing the ability of the muscles to turn the cranks while overcoming resistance.” The quick reference guide below summarize the benefits as well as the proper techniques of hill climbing (click to enlarge).



So, who wants to be a hillcrusher?

Ride on!!



Mastering Cadence Ranges

Cuntitledadence is easy to monitor when riding an indoor bike platform such as the Keiser M3 or Spinner Blade Ion. The computer display provides instant feedback displaying your RPM’s based on your power output and resistance. However, I encounter a rider once in a while who is pedaling too fast, too slow, mashing the pedals, bouncing excessively or appears to have the incorrect rotations needed for the segment being taught. Here are some simple rules to help you understand cadence, its role in building endurance and stamina as well as how to quickly apply corrective measures to achieve proper cadence numbers:


What is Cadence?

Cadence is defined as pedaling speed in revolutions per minute (RPM). For example, a cadence of 80 RPM means that one pedal makes a complete revolution 80 times in one minute. If you don’t have a computer that displays cadence, you can measure your cadence with relative accuracy by counting the number of complete revolutions of one foot for 30 seconds and multiply by two.


Mistakes to Avoid

According to Spinning.com, a common mistake is to pedal very fast with very little resistance. So how fast is too fast? If your cadence is over 110 RPM, it’s too fast. But even if 9d50a75898a23717d3334b1a2e1d63fcyour cadence is under 110, it still might be too fast, relative to the amount of resistance you’ve applied to the flywheel. If you find yourself bouncing in the saddle, that’s a good indication that you’re not in control of your pedal stroke, (and therefore your cadence is too high relative to the amount of resistance you have on the flywheel). When your cadence is too high with too little resistance, your pedals are turning simply because of the momentum of the weighted flywheel. That’s right—the flywheel is doing all the work! Not only does that create an inefficient workout (since your muscles don’t have to do any of the work), but it can also be unsafe if the pedals get out of your control.


Cadence Values

Cadence and resistance work hand-in-hand. Because of the platform you are using, the actual numbers vary based on the bike’s hardware, flywheel weight and its design (front or rear positioning). For example, the cadence range for flat roads is from 80-110rpm (Spinning) and 70-90rpm (Schwinn), and for hills/climbing the cadence range is between 60-80rpm (both Spinning & Schwinn). Keiser recommends an overall lower/upper limits of 60-110rpms. There are other platforms that could offer different ranges. Without getting sidetracked with the selected bike platform and based on common grounds between bike platforms I reviewed (Spinner, Keiser & Schwinn), try to keep these numbers in mind:cadence


Workout Intensity

The intensity of the workout is modulated in two ways:

  1. By varying the resistance on a flywheel attached to the pedals.

The resistance is controlled by a knob, wheel or lever that the rider operates, causing the flywheel brake to tighten. Usually riders who can’t pedal at the resistance called out by the instructor are encouraged to ride at a level at which they feel comfortable yet challenged.


  1. By changing the cadence (the speed at which the pedals turn).

Pedaling at a higher rate expends more energy than pedaling at a lower rate with the same resistance. Correct cadence is between the range of 80 to 110 RPM for seated flat, standing flat (running) and jumping and 60 to 80 RPM for seated climb, standing climb, running with resistance and jumps on a hill. Sprints are taken under hill resistance building speed up to no more than 110 RPM. Seated sprints are most suitable as the rider maintains full control of posture at all times and will avoid falling due to exhaustion. A correct sprint should last from 10 to 25 seconds, leaving the rider exhausted in the 85 to 92% max heart rate range.


Instructor Tips: Evaluating & Correcting Cadence

How can you tell if one of our participants is cycling outside the recommended cadence? And, secondly, how do you correct this issue?

Riding too fast / above 110RPMs:

– Bouncing on the saddle

– Out of control pedal speed / erratic pedal stroke

– Leg speed significantly higher than mine


Riding below 60 RPMs

– Using very high gear / rider appears to be struggling

– Pauses or hesitations in pedal stroke / frequent stops

– Excessive arm movement and forward shoulder posture

– Leg speed significantly slower than mine


Optimizing Cadence

In this article, http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/optimizing-rpm-0, an important question “Is a Higher Cadence Better?” proves difficult to answer. For example, At 60 rpm, it takes 1.0 seconds for the crank to make a complete revolution, while at 90 rpm, it takes only 0.66 seconds. Thus, the contraction time for involved muscles is 34% less at 90 rpm. Since the force of muscular contraction can limit blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscle fibers, a shorter contraction time would be beneficial in delaying the onset of fatigue. A higher cadence would also require less pedal force. By decreasing both the amount of force and the length of time that force is applied per pedal stroke, a cyclist could potentially ride longer before fatiguing. This could save the muscles for subsequent efforts and faster recovery. But is a higher cadence better in shorter, more intense efforts like a time trial, or in a threshold-type interval in your indoor cycling class? The elusive answer: it depends – on a variety of factors that are unique to the rider’s biomechanics, prevailing conditions and platform.


Final Word: Cadence Variety Ensures Success

As we have discovered, your age, weight, bike platform, ride conditions, resistance and even your state of mind are some of the factors that play into cadence values. Many of these factors vary moment-to-moment based on the instructor’s coaching, routine and music, as well as the level of lactic acid in your muscles. The critical success factor to mastering cadence ranges is simply variety. By training at a broad range of cadence and resistance combinations, you will have greater freedom to choose the most appropriate combination during your workouts.


Ride Well…Ride Strong…

Motivation: Achieve it, Sustain it, Maintain it

Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to teach (or attend) a sunrise spinning class or just hanging out around the “Motivation” Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. What motivates me are not just my own health goals and the daily “deposits” I make by teaching cycling classes, but the connection I have made with class attendees.  I enjoy helping others find the same passion in working out as I do. Besides, working out with others is a great stress reliever and gives me unbeatable energy. I am inspired by the participants in my class, from the 70 year old retired veteran, to the young lady who overcame severe injuries from an accident, to the widowed father of three who managed to lose over 50 pounds, quit smoking and lower his blood pressure in less than 6 months. I am uplifted by their perseverance and determination; they are the true heroes – I just show up and play the music.

Therefore the secret to achieve motivation, sustain it and maintain it is to tap into the limitless supply of positive energy from your class participants. Connect with them and together you can make it happen. Below is the motivation quick reference guide, portions of which is available from Spinning.com (click to enlarge):



What motivates you? What inspires you to attend cycling classes? Send in your comments.


Sempre Avanti!

Spinner Blade Ion Computer Display: Quick Reference Guide

ionThe ION computer provides the rider with power data (displayed in watts), cadence (measured in RPMs), heart rate (when paired with an Ant+ compatible device), kilocalories (KCAL), distance (miles or kilometers), average power, peak power, and total ride time or interval time. When paired with a compatible device, the ION computer will broadcast a data file to the device that will record the ride data, including ride time, power, and kilojoules. This data can be uploaded to power analysis software that is capable of receiving data files with the device used to measure ride data.

For new riders as well as veteran riders and instructors, this quick reference guide summarizes the features and functionality of the onboard computer (click to enlarge):


Press Mode (M) to toggle screens. Screens 3 & 4 are used to mark and measure data for timed intervals. Press & hold Reset (R) for 2 seconds to start and stop tracking data.

Upon completion of the ride or when the rider stops pedaling, the ION computer will remain powered for 30 seconds. During this time, the computer will show a Summary Screen comprised of:

  • LINE 2: Average cadence for the ride in RPM
  • LINE 3: Flashes between average power and peak power for the ride / stage.
  • LINE 4: Total ride / stage time


Should I do what I want? What are contraindicated moves?

I know I may be inviting controversy with this article as a lot has been written on why certain moves should not be performed during an indoor cycling class. There are certain facilities and studios that advocate the application of specific routines such as using weights during class. I am not here to critique those establishments; instead, I am going to highlight what typically would be considered a dangerous, unsafe or a risky move. If you see your instructor doing such moves and you feel unsafe, then don’t do it! Even if the rest of the class is following with these moves, your safety should be paramount as injury could easily occur.

The answer…Let’s keep things simple – avoid the following:


Have you seen instructors or students do crazy stuff? Let me know…leave your comments below…


Your first ride? Will it be painful?

Not necessarily. But you will be somewhat uncomfortable for the first few rides until your body (and mind) has overcome the bike setup procedure, any initial fears or hesitation and you have dealt with this new concept of group exercise. For men and women alike, the stationary bike found in spinning or cycling studios offers a variety of adjustment settings to achieve optimal comfort and safety. Here are some first reactions and impressions that I have gathered from new riders:

  1.  Will my lower back / rear end / tail bone hurt?back

For first time riders, you will experience some discomfort in those areas mostly because of the seat design and the adjustment period needed for your body to get acclimated. Although most seats are padded, the padding itself may not be sufficient. You can achieve more comfort by using a gel seat cover that can be purchased online and in some big box stores. Additionally, for the first three to five rides, you will feel some soreness in your lower body muscles, especially if you have not exercised regularly. Drinking plenty of water will certainly help.


  1. Why do my hips, shoulders and neck hurt?

Most riders tense up and grab the handlebar too tightly. Relax your grip, keep your head aligned with your spine, and when you climb, keep your weight on the pedals, not on the handlebars. When seated, avoid slouching and take deep breaths. When possible, twist gently to either side to extend your range. Your hip flexor muscles allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist. However, you can experience hip flexor pain if you suddenly strain these muscles. You put a lot of stress on your hip flexors when you sprint. To minimize strain on the muscles around the hip and avoid hip flexor pain, always be sure to stretch properly before and after your ride.

  1. Why am I struggling?exhusted

Remember, each class may have a variety of riders with distinct fitness levels. Any well-seasoned instructor should make it clear that the cycling class is not a competition and you must not worry about the person next to you who may seem like superman. Focus on you and you alone. Do what you can. If you are not ready to climb or add resistance, remain in your seat and gradually add resistance so that you can get used to the bike, the routine and ride mechanics. Allow yourself time to reach your readiness level and be aware of any injuries or pre-existing conditions that may limit your ability to engage in the ride. If you are using certain medications, be cognizant that such medications may prevent you from reaching certain heart rate levels.

  1. Do I need clip-in shoes?

Regular athletic shoes with soft soles/bottoms do not offer as much support as the stiff-soled shoes that normally clip into the pedals (SPD). While it is ok to use normal athletic shoes, if you decide to commit to cycling classes for the long haul, an investment into a specialty shoe is well worth it. These shoes keep your pedal stroke uniform, offer solid support/feedback when climbing, assist in keeping your foot/toes pointing out and parallel to the floor (as opposed to pointing your toes down when wearing athletic shoes), and can be easily used on different bike platforms (Schwinn, Keiser, Spinner, etc.). Some drawbacks include price and availability (and no, they are not meant for looks!). Most good quality shoes are manufactured in the EU or Japan and thus the shoe sizing is a bit odd when compared to US shoe measurements. When you factor in shipping (and possibly return shipping), costs could go over $100-$150. In the future, I will post more about specific brands when I am able to review them.

  1. What about the outfit?outfit

OK, let’s not get carried away. The outfit does not make the man! Some look great, while other look absolutely ridiculous. Some riders are aspirational; i.e. they want to feel as if they are riding in the Alps or competing in the Tour de France. Again, focus on you and your comfort level – ignore that dude with the fancy outfit and logos. It is perfectly ok to forgo specialty outfits and wear what you like and feel comfortable in. There are plenty of online retailers that carry padded shorts, shirts, bibs and padded underwear. One of my first padded shorts arrived one day before a big event, were the wrong size and I had no choice but to wear them….can you say adult diapers!!!!! Yeah, size matters. Make sure the shorts are well padded and the fit is snug but not too restrictive. As to the shirts, select those that have moisture-wicking abilities.


If you would like to share other challenges that new riders may face, please let me know.