James Fell, my favorite irreverent fitness myth buster and journalist, has just posted an excellent article on prevalent silly techniques in indoor cycling classes. James was one of the first to publicly challenge some of the ineffective and unsafe techniques performed in SoulCycle (and other similar types of programs) in his front-page feature in the LA Times about two years ago called In Your Face Fitness: SoulCycle’s mix of cycling and upper body workouts raises concerns. James interviewed both Tom Scotto and me for that article; if you have not yet read that piece, I highly recommend it.
James is a no-holds-barred kind of guy. He says what many of us who fight for science and safety in the fitness industry sometimes wish we could say. I have to be a bit more diplomatic (although admittedly over on the Sage Advice Blog I let down my guard a little more than here on the pages of ICA). So be forewarned.
I also love that James clarifies the Spinning® brand versus the more generic term of indoor cycling early on. This needs to be done more and more so that the public, and the media, will recognize its importance.
Here are the first few paragraphs of his latest article posted on Bodyforwife.com:
I am a workout hermit. I ride alone, I mostly run alone, and I lift alone in my little man cave. One day, I envision foregoing all human contact and filling said man cave with cats bearing names like “Schwarzenegger” and “Thor.”
But in days gone by I have done the social thing when it comes to exercise. I strongly advise being social to those who struggle with fitness motivation, as it is a proven method to boost adherence. For a time, I was a member at a high-end club with free indoor cycling classes.
And just FYI Spinning® is to indoor cycling as Kleenex® is to tissue. The former is a brand and the latter is a category.
There are many different types of indoor cycling. I don’t know if the type I did once a week for about two years was Spinning or not, but what I can tell you that it was not stupid. It was not stupid because the instructor did not have us doing stupid shit.
We weren’t doing yoga on our bikes. We did not lift weights on our bikes. We didn’t do push-ups against the handlebars on our bikes. We did not do popcorn jumps on our bikes. We didn’t do low tension out-of-control speed on our bikes.
We rode our bikes, hard.
And please, share this with everyone you know who rides a bike indoors, whether they be an instructor or a student or simply someone who manages a program or studio where indoor cycling classes of any kind are held.
Together we can make a difference in our industry. Keep it Real!
Note: this article first appeared on James’ website SixPackAbs January 2014. He later moved all his content to his other website Bodyforwife.com. This article reappeared on that site in January of 2015.