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.
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I agree with your comments and Jim’s about the Cycle Sculpt class: that non-authentic classes should be embraced because they’re probably here to stay, and, more importantly, should be taught by the people most qualified to teach them. That obviously means authentic indoor-cycling instructors. I’ve learned the hard and messy way (my usual way) that it’s a mistake to try to “sell” authentic anything to those who don’t share the perspective. Good job with something new; great job with the quality you brought to the familiar. If (when?) there’s a next time, and a next, it will keep getting smoother.
I’m still taking this all in. You’re challenging me to think it through, and I appreciate you for doing that. To that end, I am wondering whether you were “locked with load” on the Bis/Tris/Shoulders set and the tube set or were you soft-pedaling, as you described the triathlete in the early part of the story?
Couldn’t agree more Joan – people are generally intelligent and will reject being told what to do.
I’ve repeated this saying (from a popular Instructor at Life Time)before; “1st you need to give them what they want… and only then you can add in what they need.”
Krista I’m ringing my imaginary big brass bell! You’re exactly right 🙂 I was excited to challenge my perceptions about these classes, through first hand experience – and then share my experience in the hope of challenging yours.
My mission for ICI/PRO is to help Instructors and Studio owners teach better/fuller classes = more profitable studios and more people exercising.
Soulcycle and others have demonstrated that there’s huge interest in these types of classes. To ignore this trend is IMO not only foolish, but a real disservice to the population of people who would benefit from any amount of exercise.
To answer your question; once I saw how stable everyone was (this class has been offered for about a year) I decided to let them pedal during the second work set. First I cued a moderate/slow climb with the music @ 50 rpm. Then had everyone sit up and asked them to confirm they could feel the push over the top = it creates stability when you sit up. It really wasn’t a big deal and everyone appeared very comfortable and in control.
This isn’t anything different from what a cyclist does on the road when they need remove or put on a jacket, while keeping up with a group. You add a bigger gear, sit up and make your change. Pushing against the gear creates the needed stability.
John made the most interesting comment before leaving to teach this class yesterday: “I’ve spent more time preparing for this class than any other I’ve ever taught!”. Why did he have to prepare? Because he doesn’t have a group fitness background and he had to step WAY out of his comfort zone and area of expertise to teach this type of class and serve the membership where they are at. I applaud him.
I think the angst and resistance by instructors to these “impure” cycle classes is simply fear. We can make it look like fear for our participants, but they love it (they are coming in droves), so we owe it to ourselves to be honest about it.
Yes, I’ve taken, and taught the cycle sculpt format. As with any hybrid, it’s not my favorite. After 20 years of teaching, I still prefer pure classes- Pilates, Cycle, Strength- my preference is an hour of concentrated work in one area. But guess what? Teaching isn’t about me! It’s about my class and what they want.
Also, in a Big Box environment, we have to be flexible, because Group Fitness is a non-rev department. We must fill our space, or we lose it. We have 70 bikes to fill. So, if a cycle sculpt class will help convert to power cycling, I’m all for it.
Sorry, I just can’t support what I see as “tricks on bikes”. And yes,, I do start my classes by reminding riders that we keep it real, no isolations, no tap backs, no hoovers and although I trained for the weight training/riding format, I would never instruct it. The stop and start is just not cycling, does nothing for the heart rate or for endurance. These soulcycle formats may be the future, but I think it’s just entertainment. I’m an instructor of only cycling in a big box club. If members don’t like my approach, there are other cycling instructor classes they can take.
Sharon I agree – I wouldn’t do any of that either and you’ll not find any of that in my classes.
Are you able to fill your studio with a cycling specific class format?
To see ICI (and You) open up the possibilities of non-authentic cycling brings a smile to my face. As you know I’ve been a champion of the, ‘it’s all about the riders’, cause for a long time. And they speak with their feet if you don’t give them what they want.
For this forum to embrace what the market has been telling us for a long time shows that you are not just pushing your own agenda on instructors but, giving them the information the need to choose for themselves. Like Sharon not of us will hop on the non-authentic. Like Amy many of us would prefer to teach our own thing our own way. But like Amy says, It is not about us.
I see the failure of some cycling specific small businesses as a misunderstanding of how much the paying public really wants very structured, singlularly focused training.
Moreover, learning to teach something new makes us more well rounded as instructors. And getting better, wiser or more open minded when plying our craft can only be a good thing.
Congratulations John. Like my good friend Sally Edwards always asks, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
A member called me out on keeping it real…when riding outside for real we don’t simply hop on our bike and ride steadily, we:
– ‘lift’ our bikes down from the garage hooks
– ‘pump’ up the tires
– ‘stop and start’ pedal rotations numerous times
– ‘clip in and out’ numerous times
– balance repeatedly
– ‘flex and extend’ muscles throughout our body as we adjust to varying terrain
– ‘lift’ our bikes back up to the garage hooks
I’ve already stated a hybrid class of any kind is not MY favorite, BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER. Also, it can be argued just as easily that a so-called “pure” cycling class is just as bad at NOT keeping it real as a hybrid. Food for thought as my astute member rightly pointed out.
I also don’t, and wouldn’t use any contraindicated moves. There’s no need. Cycle sculpt can easily be taught safely and effectively.
I debated whether to weigh in this – but what the heck… Guess I’ll wade in. 😉
Personally, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the concept of combined classes – we offer a number of them in our studio, and they’re very well received. But IMO, the best approach to this kind of class is to keep the cycling & strength segments SEPARATE – i.e., keep the cycling portions on the bike, and strength portions OFF the bike.
IMO, resistance training on the bike is at best ineffective (or at least LESS effective than doing the same exercise off the bike) and at worst dangerous. There’s just too much that can go wrong (again, IMO) when trying to do resistance training ON the bike. It’s hard enough to coach proper strength training technique in a group setting OFF the bike… Throw in moving pedals, the instability of sitting on a bike saddle, hands off the handlebars while pedaling AND manipulating weights or bands (to name a few of the potential issues) and it’s just an accident waiting to happen.
It’s quite easy to split the two, and still give the people the combined workout they’re looking for. It can be done by either doing half the class on the bike and half off the bike, or as John did, alternate cycling & strength segments, but dismount the bike and do the strength exercises on the floor – a MUCH safer AND more effective approach.
I don’t really go along with the argument that we need to offer classes of this format just because it’s “what the people want.” Just because “the people” want it doesn’t make it the right – or safe. “The people” would also love a handy dietary supplement that promises instant weight loss, hair growth, glowing skin, eternal youth, and increased libido – and there are plenty of people out there willing to sell it to them. My point being – our students don’t necessarily know any better – and don’t know the potential downsides (injury risk being the biggest one from my perspective). It’s OUR job as fitness professionals to know what’s safe and effective – and what’s not – and deliver our clients and customers the best and safest classes we can.
Judging by those 50+ Facebook comments – I see I’m not alone in this line of thinking… 😉
I say thanks for weighing in on this debate. It is good to see instructors coming out and speaking up
Facebook: Maybe if it were 50 different expert opinions. But it was just a couple of stubborn individuals seeking to win a contest of words.
John clearly stated he didn’t know what he had gotten himself into. When he found out, his actions were consummate professional. He took a class. He met with the instructor to learn more about teaching the class. Over prepared to be sure he wouldn’t get anyone – including himself – hurt.
He reported his experience quite honestly. And that is his job here on ICI. That his experience
left him more positive on the subject is, IMO, remarkable.
For the most part Indoor cycling classes are not getting fuller. But don’t take my word for it. Read Jim Karanas’ post on non-authentic indoor cycling. The was no more a cycling purist than Jim. But he was also a realist. He is the only one I’ve heard of to request ACE to look into just how valid and safe such exercise is.
I hope his work in this arena is being continued.
I have no doubt doubt that John took extra care to prepare the safest class possible to fit the format that was expected in this particular situation.
For the record, I am NOT in the camp that thinks that purely “authentic” cycling is the only legitimate way to present indoor cycling classes, and understand and agree that a large number of people come to these classes not only to exercise, but to have fun and – yes, to be entertained. And frankly I get a little weary of the “us” vs “them” divide that seems to have formed in recent years in the IC community. I think that’s very unfortunate. IMO, there’s room for all kinds of approaches – as long as they’re safe.
For me the main beef I have with the format as described here is with doing resistance training ON the bike – which *I* believe to be inherently unsafe, regardless of how it’s presented (and I’m sure John did the best possible job given the expectations for the class). For me THAT’S the deal breaker. The fact that no one was hurt in a single class in a single gym on a single day doesn’t prove that the approach is safe. People engage in all kinds of unsafe behaviors every day without getting hurt (drinking and driving, speeding, riding a bike or motorcycle without a helmet, etc., etc., etc.) Just because they didn’t get hurt doesn’t mean those activities are safe, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should encourage people to keep engaging in them…
Jennifer I couldn’t agree more about the division you describe. I was guilty of promoting that “we know best” attitude in the early years of ICI/PRO – I’ve been trying to correct for that now. The concept of Indoor Cycling 2.0 was to signify progress in our industry, not create a box where anyone outside of it is wrong.
Also – I had been writing this post https://www.indoorcycleinstructor.com/icipro-instructor-training/matter-perception/ and see that it addresses my feelings about your second point.
I’m not sure how I feel about these classes. I am however thrilled to see John using some Pitbull in his playlist! 🙂
I’m getting to enjoy PitBull