Excellent article on IDEA – all cycling instructors please read this!

I just became aware of this excellent article from IDEA Health and Fitness Association on indoor cycling instruction. It’s by Martica Heaner, Ph.D. and is called A Smoother Ride. “Group Ex Skills & Drills: These 10 tips will motivate and inspire your indoor cycling class and keep people coming back for more.”

To me, the best part of the article is the Sidebar at the end. It is titled Technique: Know Your Stuff.

I left a ‘short’ comment. I want to support any person, club, program, publication or organization that promotes educated, sound instruction on an indoor bicycle that eschews unsafe and ineffective techniques like lifting weights, or doing pushups or crunches. My comment is below. Feel free to leave your comment on the IDEA page supporting their efforts to clean up indoor cycling and encouraging instructors to know their stuff!

I bow before you! Thank you, thank you, thank you for adding your voice to this growing problem (especially the “Know Your Stuff” segment). I have been preaching much of this for 15 years, first as a Spinning Master Instructor for 12 years, then as an independent educator and author (in my eBook Keep it Real in Your Indoor Cycling Class), and now as the founder of the Indoor Cycling Association. With the rise and popularity – due to a well-funded marketing juggernaut and an uneducated and naive public – of so many ineffective and unscientific-based programs, we must find ways to keep this warning on the forefront of all indoor cycling education. The rise of these popular programs is very troubling, because what they are promoting may actually injure students. It doesn’t do the industry any good either when they are selling “snake-oil” about the effectiveness of their techniques (like lifting 1-lb weights or crunching or doing pushups while sitting upright), because it adds to the lack of understanding in the general public about effective fitness methods. This education needs to get to the end-user, the unsuspecting and ignorant student.

I was able to do that recently by encouraging a well-known fitness myth-buster to write an LA Times article in December questioning the benefits of a certain popular program. I have also been contributing to Active.com on this subject. But we as an industry need more – we need widespread public awareness. It’s one thing to educate the instructor (which you are doing so beautifully with this article) but we need to reach the students and the club owners, and teach THEM what not to do in class, and when to walk out (or sit in silent protest) when asked to hover, squat, do crunches or pushups, or isolate a part of the body.

It is very unfortunate that some club managers, and even some GX Coordinators, do not seem to care about safety and effectiveness of a cycling program. If it puts butts on bikes, that’s all they seem to care about. Is it because they are legitimately ignorant, or are they choosing to ignore the facts? I have received so many emails from instructors lamenting that their GX manager is the worst perpetrator of contraindicated moves in their cycling program, so they have no one to turn to. They’ve been told to “shut up” or mind their own business when they bring articles with proof of the ineffectiveness of certain popular moves. My hope is that those managers will read this article and may finally, finally get it. Even if you convert ONE person with this article, you have succeeded!

Cycling is the sport that has been studied longer than ANY other sport in the world. The ergometer was developed over 100 years ago! It is all about science – physics, biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology – how the body works best on a bicycle with moving parts, and how to maximize the moving of that bike while optimizing the performance of the rider. We (meaning the exercise science world) KNOW what is proper movement and position on a bike, and what things (like messing with proper movement and position) will inhibit power output and hence, caloric expenditure. Even if it is a bike that is sitting indoors going nowhere. People need to respect the fact that an indoor bike is still is a bike. What is bad, ineffective or unsafe for a cyclist is bad, ineffective or unsafe for an indoor cyclist too.

I also want to thank you for finding contributors from a variety of programs and clubs. Hats off to Shannon Derby of Spinning, Jay Blahnick, Keli Roberts and the other Master Trainers from Schwinn, all wise voices in the industry. There is not a single REPUTABLE indoor cycling certification program that teaches or condones any of these contraindicated movements – none! Not Spinning, nor Schwinn, nor Keiser, nor any of the relative newcomers based purely on cycling training principles like Cycling Fusion or C.O.R.E. Cycling. And how is it that these unfounded, unscientific and unsafe moves so popular? It really boggles my mind.

I especially appreciate the input from Melissa Morin of The Sports Club in NYC, advising not to do pushups. Way to stick up for intelligent training Melissa, especially in a city where pushups on the bike has become a part of a popular trend that people pay entirely too much money to do, yet get nothing from it.

The Indoor Cycling Association educates and inspires indoor cycling instructors to teach fun, engaging, effective and SAFE classes, without the need for “extra-curricular” activities on the bike. We would love to partner with IDEA in some manner to continue to spread the concepts of this type of instruction.

Thanks again for the wonderful validation of proper instruction.

Ride on,

Jennifer Sage,
Founder, Indoor Cycling Association


1 Comment

  1. Jennifer, thanks for sharing this article. It is very important, I’l be forwarding it to all my instructors!

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