I feel that "jumps" (the controlled/rhythmic/on-the-beat type - not the random "popcorn" or David Lee Roth varieties) have gotten a bad rap as of late. I love when they're a part of a class, enjoy teaching jumps and see them as beneficial for multiple reasons... here are five* for you to consider:

#1 Jumps can provide Cognitive Dissociation 

I found this description at 

Picture yourself riding an exercise (stationary) bike for forty-five minutes (alone) in your garage while staring at a blank wall in total silence. No company. No music. Nothing (interesting) to look at. I get bored just thinking about it.

Now, relocate your bike to a bright room with lots of inspirational posters on the walls, a few flat-screen TV”™s, a great view out of the numerous windows, some awesome music pumping through the place, a room full of motivated people peddling beside you and a hot-looking bloke (or chick) up the front inspiring you through a great work-out.

Some people call this scenario Spinning® (RPM, etc.). I call it cognitive dissociation.

It”™s the same but different. Find a way to make it work for you.

A major part of our role as Instructors is to provide a distraction from the monotony of exercise. We do it with our music, structured profiles, our presentation of the class and video/virtual rides. All of these things can provide helpful distractions for the visual and auditory learners in the room. But what about the third type... the Kinesthetic learners in your class?

Kinesthetic Learning (also known as Tactile Learning) is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration.

Those are people who can't sit still and have got to move! I'll bet that you have participants in that category and they hate being forced to just sit there and pedal. My older daughter Abby is a super Kinesthetic Learner. It would drive her crazy to have to sit still to study. But give her something she could move/play with and problem solved.

Jumps can provide this cognitive dissociation because they force participants of all learning styles to mentally focus on the activity, not the effort. I can remember vividly how Amy used to teach classes where we would do 50, 80, 100 or more jumps in a row. I'd be so intent on staying with the music and counting down each jump, I would completely lose touch with the actual intensity - which for me made exercising fun!

Question for you: Do you have a few participants who won't sit still and occasionally do their own thing? I'd like you to consider why they are acting out. Could they be kinesthetic learners and you aren't offering them enough variety of movement? 

Or asked a different way: could requiring everyone to "just sit there and pedal" be alienating a segment of the population who can't help the fact that they can't (and won't) sit still? 

#2 Jumps can become Tribal Movements

Have you ever been to a sporting event where they did "the wave"? Try to remember the feelings you had when it happened:

  • Do you remember how you felt as you watch "the wave" slowly approach your section?
  • The feeling of being part of that massive, collective group?
  • Pretty cool, right?

Feeling like you're part of the "Tribe" goes a long way toward a feeling of connection with, or being part of, something bigger than yourself.

  • Did you maybe have just a touch of anxiety, worrying that you would stand up at just the right moment?
  • How did you feel when the "wave" started to become disorganized?
  • Were you a little frustrated with the others in the stadium?
  • Maybe you exerted your leadership skills by trying to reorganize the wave?

Tribalism is the state of being organized in, or advocating for, a tribe or tribes. Got an iPhone, iPad or Mac? Chances are one reason you choose an Apple product, over a PC, is because you wanted to join the "Apple Tribe".

SoulCycle, if you haven't noticed, has an amazing tribe. I'm convinced that part of their appeal is directly connected to having everyone moving together as one. It truly is a thing of beauty. If you've never experienced a class like this, I highly recommend trying one.

Studio owner Paul Harmeling understands the value of building a passionate tribe, as demonstrated by his three successful Full Psycle Indoor Cycling Studios. If you didn't hear my interview with him, where he describes the importance of developing a tribe through specific movements, you can find it here.

#3 Jumps - help for the rhythmically challenged

I'm personally in the demographic that (had) a problem with rhythm. For most of my life, I had no ability to hear and then follow the beat of the music. Dancing? Let's just say that I'm really glad that pocket video recorders didn't exist back in the Disco era - my moves were not pretty and rarely connected to anything close to the beat. That all changed when I learned to jump as a participant in cycling classes.

Early on I found that, with practice, I could learn to pedal to the beat of somewhat slow music > in the 60ish RPM range. Having to rise and fall along with the Instructor (and other riders in the class) became a sort of gauge that helped me to understand if I was actually on the beat. Amy helpfully explained how coming up on the same leg, in the same point in the crank rotation, identified that I was truly "on the beat". It took a long time for me to feel comfortable doing jumps without needing to think about each action - and it may for some of your regulars. I can't think of a better example of the "practice makes perfect" cliche - it really does take time.

So if you have men people like me in your classes, do them a big favor and teach them how to jump. I'm willing to bet that there's a significant other in many of their lives who will thank you for it 🙂

#5 Jumps are challenging

Why are extreme endurance events like the Spartan Race so popular? OK, that's a dumb question. Pretty much anyone who knows what these events are, know why people flock to them by the tens of thousands... they're crazy challenging both physically and mentally. Everyone who finishes has a sense of accomplishment that only comes from overcoming the challenges faced during the race.

Can all agree that there's little challenge in pedaling a bicycle? That's a big part of the appeal of Indoor Cycling, anyone can do it. Sure you can make the class hard - challenging physically. But why not add a few jumps, which for many people are mentally challenging as well? The end result is that once mastered, jumps can create a small, but similar, feeling of accomplishment at the end of your class.

#5 Jumps are FUN

Please don't underestimate the FUN factor of jumps. Not everything in your class has to (or should) be focused on some specific element of training. There's a lot of good arguments that playful exercise is as beneficial as structured workouts - especially with people who are burned out or bored by rote workout regimens. Recognise that many of your participants come to your class to have fun and want to enjoy their time exercising. My feeling is that adding a few jumps will go a long way to keeping them happy with you and your classes.

Stay tuned for Pt2: Jumps - 5 possible reasons why you aren't offering them...

* I'm tempted to add a #6 here: Jumps help cyclists learn to smoothy come out of the saddle. I know it has helped me, but there's a lot of conflicting opinions about if it does or not. The majority of your riders are probably not cyclists anyway, so this point really doesn't matter... does it?


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