Note: Gino's articles are supposed to be for ICI/PRO members only. He feels very strongly about this subject and asked that I make it available for everyone. - John
As an Indoor Cycling / Spinning® instructor, you know how important good air flow is. Don”™t you? What??? You LIKE your students to sweat buckets!?! It proves how “kick-ass” your class is? Uh… well… not so fast. If that were true, then just build a bunch of steam rooms and saunas and let people sit and sweat. Ah, but it”™s not that simple is it? You know they don”™t lose real weight that way. It”™s just water. But really, it”™s worse than that.
Let”™s get something straight right off the bat… a cool room, with good airflow, does NOT diminish how hard your people work. Yes, they may indeed sweat less, but they will still sweat. How kick-ass your class is, will be a function of how you teach it, not if you need housekeeping to come in and mop up afterwards. In fact, here is a more radical notion than that — how about we measure how good your class is based on how much weight your students lose, or how much better they get on their bikes outside (for those who ride). Now, THAT makes a lot more sense. Let”™s provide real value, not superficial, ego boosting, empty results.
Here is the basic principle in a nutshell. If you don”™t have time to read anything else in this blog, or learn anything else about the thermodynamics of the human body, please try to understand this:
The human body does not dissipate heat very well on its own. We burn 4 to 5 calories to perform 1 calorie of work. What happens to the other calories? It turns the remaining calories into heat, which unfortunately must by eliminated for our bodies to function properly. To maintain our bodies at a constant temperature, the body will take blood away from the muscles and redirect it to the skin where it can be used for cooling by evaporating perspiration. The bottom line? If you don”™t have some other way to keep your body cool, you can”™t use your energy to perform work — the real way to get fit and lose weight. Instead, you”™re wasting energy cooling (or at least trying to cool) your body.
Still think it”™s not a big deal? Well, don”™t take my word for it. The importance of cooling a cyclist who is not riding on the open road can not be overstated. Here is a link to a great article (which includes a video interview) of Dr. Lim from Garmin-Chipotle cycling team. He is their team physiologist: http://bit.ly/Cooling
- “When you do this [keep cool] you don”™t have to use as much energy to cool yourself down so more of that blood can be used to actually deliver oxygen [to the muscles.]”
There is a substantial body of literature that will support Lim”™s work with the Garmin”™s cycling team, as well as my somewhat fanatical need to chastise every club owner or manager that refuses to spring for a few more fans. In fact, it seems that much of this literature is what we call “serious science”, done by formal studies at universities. As such though, I couldn”™t get copies of their studies without paying for them. If your owners/managers doubt me, or Dr. Lim, they should pay for and download one or both of these articles to see for themselves:
Science Digest: http://bit.ly/DSmYz
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: http://bit.ly/3EeV97
If you”™re willing to spend as little as $20 to change your indoor cycling room, click here to go to my Cycling Fusion blog where I have a call to action that your whole class can do to change management”™s thinking.
Originally posted 2009-09-18 16:46:12.
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Great article Gene!
A few weeks ago I was on the Spinning Facebook page, and someone had commented how much she loved Spinning because she sweat so much. She bragged that she drank no water in class and didn’t turn on the fans and got “an even greater workout”. I left a comment explaining the physiological reasons why this thinking was not based in fact, that it actually reduced her effectiveness and potential performance gains, and that it was potentially dangerous, however, I had to bite my tongue to be diplomatic, instead of saying what I REALLY wanted to say – if I could have, I would have said this:
It is this stupid, outdated, ignorant viewpoint perpetuated by ignorant ego-ridden instructors that is keeping our industry in the dark ages…
Sigh…but I couldn’t say that there online…it was right before I resigned my MI position with MDA and I had to be civil.
I fight that battle often with other instructors at my facility. My class knows the reasons why you need airflow when training indoors and appreciate it. On the other hand, we have instructors who play the tough guy role and punish their class by not turning on the fan. “You have to earn the fan by sweating more”. That is insane! Thanks for th egreat info.
I run into this with my older riders. I try to explain that the no pain, no gain philosophy of our generation (you know, us 50+ guys) was based on an idea that had no science to support it. I explain that science has proven that you do not need to sweat like a pig to benefit, quite the opposite. I repeat this on a daily basis and explain why. Hopefully, son=me are paying attention.
It’s nice to see that we have some “enlightened” instructors out there. Thinking more about this today as I read these comments, I’ve come to a sort of revelation. I think the reason many instructors like to use sweat to prove the efficacy or intensity of their workout, is that they have NO OTHER MEANS AVAILABLE. Think about it – the average instructor uses NO heart monitor, NO cadence counter, and NO power meter. Hence, there is NO other feedback available but their own sweat. That’s the problem. We want feedback to prove that we have worked as hard as we feel we have, and without these objective tools, we use sweat. Silly, but understandable. Hence, my obsession with Cycling Fusion, and seeing real training tools make their way into the average I.C. class.
While I appreciate the science behind cooling the body, the fact is that some people sweat more than others. For me, whether I’m cycling, lifting, stepping, or even running in cool autumn weather, I sweat buckets. I consistently have the largest puddle of runoff under my cycle at the end of each class, but I know that I did’nt work any harder than most of the students. I’m 50 years old and have always been that way!
Mark, Let’s be clear – sweating is absolutely fine – I too have been told that it was a good thing I know how to swim, because when I get off the bike I might drown! My big point was simply to encourage clubs and instructors to do whatever they can to move some air and cool the body while they work. This is how we know our “work” and energy will be directed at making us fitter and stronger, not just trying to keep us cool. But we sweaters, well, we will still just keep on filling buckets 🙂
I know that I’ve brought this up to my coordinator and the management at LA Fitness who have the corporate answer that there should be adequate air conditioning in every cycle room and that fans aren’t needed. Sheesh!!!! Apparently nobody at the corporate level has ever checked into any of the peer reviewed scientific studies that specifically say that it’s the evaporation of sweat from the body that cools it…and that requires air flow.
OK..stepping off my soapbox now….