Ask The Expert: Instructor Worries About Co-Instructor’s Performance Supplement Before Classes

I received an interesting query from an instructor (who I’ll keep anonymous) who is worried about one of her co-instructors who takes a caffeine and nitric oxide (NO) supplement prior to teaching.

Hi Jennifer,

I was wondering if you have seen or heard of any studies addressing the affect of taking a performance supplement before an indoor cycling class, particularly one with high doses of caffeine. There is an instructor here who has been taking a supplement prior to teaching (a student had approached me about it and how the instructor seemed “hyper and distracted and not attentive to the class not being able to keep up with his intensity”). He left a tub of NO-Xplode behind the stereo this week, so being curious I glanced at the ingredients and noticed it has 225mg of caffeine per scoop.

I am still fairly new to the fitness industry as an instructor (just over 3 years now) but as I understand these types of supplements, they are geared more for a weight lifting type of workout where the heart rate is not being driven to the upper limits. Am I mistaken?

I’m concerned since I’ve had more than one student make a comment about this instructor (one used the word “psychosis” to describe his personality change when the supplement kicks in), but most importantly I’m worried that the instructor is putting himself in a dangerous situation. If the heart rate is already on the edge of anaerobic or higher and you add a stimulant known to affect heart rate, my gut says that is something bad waiting to happen. Am I overcautious here?

I’ve tried researching online, but I thought with your gajillion years of experience and pool of resources, I could get a cycling specific response. Any thoughts?

Thanks for any advice you may have.

This subject scares me, personally. I can see a potential liability issue, and well as an ethical one. But I am not really well versed in this area, so I turned to Dr. Jennifer Klau for her advice. Jennifer doesn’t hold back! Here was her response to my e-mail with this instructor’s question:

1 Comment

  1. Personally, I would approach the fitness director with your concerns, if I were in that instructor’s shoes. It doesn’t have to be done in a rude or condescending way, but simply, much like the instructor asked Jennifer for help, that’s how it could be formulated to the fitness director. Make it more of a, “these are the concerns that club members have brought to my attention” than a “I can’t believe this guy is doing this!” I would hope that the fitness director would have the knowledge to approach this other instructor and have a discussion about it… Simply stated, the guy could go into a-fib and that’s a health concern! Maybe a simple policy of no supplements before/during teaching because the gym doesn’t want to appear as though it is endorsing any one particular product? I don’t know, definitely a toughie, but my little physical therapist heart is really concerned for this other instructor’s heart!

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