I just got back from teaching (subbing) my very first Cycle – Sculpt class. Yep, I taught a class that included weights… which we used… while on the bike. And guess what?
No one got hurt and it appeared that many in the class enjoyed our hour together.
Oh, and from the looks of them, they all worked really hard.
UPDATE: This class generated 50 comments at Facebook.
So why did I do this? A lot of reasons actually. Here are a few…
I try to support our team of Instructors, whenever possible.
When I see a sub request, and I'm available, I try as often as possible to say Yes! So when I saw this request, I automatically replied that I would cover the class. I honestly didn't even realize what I was agreeing to teach.
This brings me to last Sunday. I had incorrectly entered the date into my calendar. When I pulled into the parking lot last week I saw another Instructor park right next to me. “Are we both here to teach the same class?” she asked. It quickly became obvious that we were. When I offered for her to go back home, she replied; “You know this is a Cycle-Sculpt class, John?” So I agreed that it would probably be better if she taught the class. And since I was already there, I decided to take it 🙂
Which turned out to be a good thing, once I figured out (yesterday) that I was scheduled to teach it this morning. More on the format to follow.
I try to place the desires of the club's members ahead of my own, whenever possible.
Understanding when and what I was expected to teach. I had a decision to make. Would I teach the class that the participants were expecting / what they choose to get up for this morning? Or would I waltz in with a big chip on my shoulder and declare something to the affect of;
“These classes are nonsense.”
“You're all wasting your time with those weights.”
“We'll be doing a real cycling class today.”
“If you don't like it, tough, you can leave.”
I could have taught my normal cycling specific class very easily. But out of respect for the 30 people in the room, that were expecting a Cycle-Sculpt class, I gave them one.
Side Note: Lots of strange faces in that class.
And I don't mean a few new faces. I counted, and ~20 of the 30 in class were unknown to me. Our's isn't a big club. Amy and I have been members for 20 years and I've taught for the last ten. I've subbed every class multiple times. These people (they were all women) don't appear to frequent any of the conventional cycling classes.
My guess is that the original Instructor for that class had recruited many to join her in (what was then) a brand new class format. Incorporating the familiar strength elements of a sculpt group fitness class, with the cardio of cycling they felt comfortable joining her. And there they've stayed.
IMO – there's been way too much speculation, and not enough observation, about these classes.
I watched a semi-pro cyclist pound out a 5 minute interval @ 350 watts*, a few months ago at Full Psycle Studio. He then scooped up his two 12lb weights for a set of over-head presses, soft pedaling while focusing on his exercise. I talked to him afterward and asked him his thoughts about using weights on the bike. His response was; “I like this. I couldn't do that on my road bike.” As a cyclist, he's not interested in gaining muscle mass – which requires heavy weights/low number of reps – but he did appear to enjoy the opportunity to do more than just sit there and pedal.
That's not supposed to happen – but I saw it with my own eyes. And it's not just me who sees this. Jim Karanas (I just can't bring myself to preface that with “the late”) wrote an interesting article this past summer about the appeal of these types of classes.
What about non-authentic indoor cycling? How about SoulCycle? It hurts; it really does. But if you believe that SoulCycle is going to fade away because it’s not authentic, then I believe you’re misguided. The SoulCycle brand is strong, their marketing is incredibly strong, AND they now have strong financial support after having been purchased by Equinox.
Something else: they’re building one hell of a culture. Friends of mine who have never taken my class come up and say with wide-eyed enthusiasm, “Do you know that SoulCycle is coming to San Francisco?” I ask, “Why would you take a class there when you haven’t yet come to mine?” No response.
I believe that non-authentic indoor cycling will become a significant trend in the Fitness Industry. ICG® is an authentic indoor cycling company. We believe in proper training principles and we all ride bikes, yet we’re not blind.
If non-authentic IC is going to make a mark, why not embrace it for what it is – a way to train on the bike that makes (some) people fit and happy? Assuming it’s validated as safe and effective (ICG has already contacted the American Council on Exercise and proposed a study), then shouldn’t every indoor cycling education body offer a program on how to teach non-authentic indoor cycling? Why shouldn’t any and every indoor cycling program be taught by those who are truly qualified to teach indoor cycling? That would be the likes of us. We know indoor cycling best. We could create a program – inauthentic fluff, if you will – that’s still authentic in its safety, structure and cardiovascular benefit. Why not?
Master Trainer Dunte Hector commented on Jim's article
This post gives me the same impression – someone out there is taking their first step toward better health and better fitness because of “non-authentic” classes; why should my personal philosophy stand in the way of that? Sure, I would love to see every single indoor cycling participant coming to class to be physically prepared to ride better outdoors, but that’s just not the case. Even if they were, no matter the size of my facility or number of people on staff, I couldn't possibly help everyone all at once.
I've observed these classes, I've taken these classes… all I had left was to teach one of these classes.
To save you the suspense, no I didn't do any of the goofy stuff. No push-ups on the bike (although I'm not aware of a more benign movement) or figure 8s or tap-backs. We did do a lot of cadence based jumps – which isn't different than what I'll throw in a typical class.
After the class last Sunday, the Instructor helped me prepare for my class. It's actually very simple; 5 minutes riding, followed by 5 minutes of strength. Here's my Spotify playlist. Cycle Sculpt Class
Heart Upon My Sleeve
Pitbull – Feel This Moment – 30 second accelerations with Christina from tempo (68 rpm) to 90 rpm
Floor work 5:00 mins
Crypton – 2 x Floor pushups (hands using weights = straight wrists) and planks until the Instructor was fatigued 🙁
Ride set 5 mins
Kill Me Every Time – 63 rpm, build load until it brings you out of the saddle 3 minutes, seated until end.
Back set 5 mins
Thievery Corporation – pedals horizontal and locked with load. Standing back rows, alternating sides, then reverse flys with a two count at full extension, alternating sides.
Ride set 5 mins
Living Colour – Cult Of Personality – Speed work. 92 rpm near AT, then surges over 100 rpm.
Bies / Tries & Shoulders set 5 mins
Euphoria 5 Mins – compound movement: curl > rotate to shoulder press > squeeze triceps a full extension, alternate arms
Ride set 5 minutes
Tegan And Sara – Back In Your Head – Tiesto Remix Edit – cadence jumps at 68 rpm with lots of load.
Band set 5 mins
Denmark – short band around your back. Duel and alternating arm triceps presses.
Final Ride set 10 minutes
Sunday On Weed – You Can't Hide (Cet Merlin Mix) – Cet Merlin Mix 5 min climb seated
Muse – Supremacy – continue climb > chase back on accelerations @ 2:00 & 3:48 – recovery in between. Listen to it and you'll hear exactly what to do.
Floor Set 5 Mins
Moby – Alone – 2 x 4 count Crunches alternated 60 sec planks.
Passenger – Let Her Go – stretching off the bike
Now is this something I would introduce into my class?
No. My class expects my very cycling specific class.
My interest here was seeing if it would be possible for me to teach this class safely and with the participants accepting my version as a reasonable substitute for their normal Instructor.
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.