In 2018, I was in New York City to see some Broadway shows and visit some clients. While there, I had the pleasure of taking Michael Reilly’s class at Equinox. Michael has been an instructor for a long time and is one of the original members of the Indoor Cycling Association (thank you, Michael!).
It was a Sunday night class, the day before one of the big American holidays that serves as an entrée to summer, Memorial Day. Michael did a Memorial Day ride that was very moving. I took a few short videos of the class, but I never posted them because due to the dark room and some shaky video (while riding), the quality isn’t very good.
However, in the ICA FB group, someone was asking about teaching a Memorial Day ride while avoiding politics. I was so impressed with Michael’s class last year that I messaged him and asked if I could post the videos and whether he would share his profile and playlist. He agreed.
Michael had a moment of silence as he opened his ride to the music of “Taps,” which is played at the funeral of a soldier. During the warm-up, he gave a short description of the meaning of the holiday—to honor those who have died in American wars—and then he proceeded with his ride. It wasn’t the least bit political, though it was patriotic. I’m not a huge country music fan myself but even the handful of country songs were powerful and moving to me.
Not every song was a “patriotic” one; that’s one thing I want you all to recognize if you have any hesitations doing a theme ride. Not every song has to be on the theme—how many you use is up to you. Sometimes, just one or two will suffice.
More than anything, I am posting these videos not just for the theme ride, but so you can see an excellent instructor at work. Michael has been teaching since 1997—that’s a long time! If you are ever in New York, you should look him up at one of the uptown Equinox clubs and see if you can take a class with him. (Be forewarned—his classes are popular and fill up quickly.)
In the videos below, notice how Michael engages with his riders. He’s very comfortable and loves to play “conductor,” which I absolutely loved. When you have this level of comfort, you can play almost any song and your riders will still love it. You’ll notice there is some hootin’ in the class from a few fans! Keep in mind that this is New York City—a tough and discerning crowd.
While most of the class is made up of longtime regulars, he still gives form reminders, asks them to focus on their breath, and reminds them how to use the wattage and the Stages consoles. (Note: The Stages bikes were fairly new, maybe a few months, to this club at the time.)
I hope you get some coaching ideas from these videos as well as tips on putting together your own Memorial Day ride (and maybe other theme rides as well—it could also work as a base for a Veterans Day ride, although the focus is not on those who died but on those who have served). I’ve added his playlist and profile as well. If you want to explore other songs that are good for a Memorial Day ride (or Veterans Day or 4th of July), here is our bucket playlist for Memorial Day.