Taking Your Class Outside

The weather is gorgeous here in Colorado, and it got me thinking how nice it would be if I could take my class outside. At the club where I teach it’s impossible since the bikes are upstairs and the elevator is only big enough for one bike at a time, so it would take too long prior to class (I teach at 6:05 am and the club opens at 6:00 am).  Besides, there is no sound system on the back patio, at least not one where I could attach my iPod. Also, it’s a community facility, surrounded by condos. I don’t think they would take kindly to loud music in the early hours!

At a facility where I used to teach, some of the instructors liked to take the bikes outside on nice days. The Spinning studio was right next to the door that went out to the pool, and classes were small enough in the summer it wasn’t a big hassle moving bikes. Instructors would get consensus from class members whether they wanted to go outside or not. But there was only a boom box for the music, which was very hard to hear over the nearby highway, and that annoyed me enough to not do it a second time.

I am curious, how many of you take your classes outside on nice days? There is a whole host of considerations when doing so; I’m curious how you all handle the following issues. If you are thinking about taking some of your classes outdoors, here is a checklist of things you may want to consider before doing so.

  • Do you announce it in advance, or just decide in the moment? In other words, when students show up, do they know in advance to prepare to be outside (such as bringing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen)?
  • Do you just do it for special events?
  • Do you have a nice place to run the classes outdoors, such as next to a pool, or on a covered patio? Or do you put them into the parking lot? (I’ve seen that on a YouTube video, a class on hot blacktop. No, thank you! I’d run away if I saw that!)
  • Who moves the bikes? You, the instructor? The facility staff? The students? If the students do, are there any worries of liability? It’s one thing to move a bike to the center of the room before class, but it might be another to push a bike out two sets of doors over thresholds. Maybe that’s not a worry to you or your club? I’ve injured my back moving bikes at a conference (disclosure—I shouldn’t be moving bikes due to a fused spine, so that was my responsibility), and you never know about your students. (Maybe this is a subject for another conversation!)
  • Is it convenient? Are your bikes close to the door where you take them outside, or do you have to jump through hoops (like use elevators) to get them there? If so, is it worth it?
  • What do you do for a sound system? How about a mic? Outside, a voice can get awfully lost in the open air without a mic, especially if you are competing with a parking lot, playground, a pool with swimmers or kids in it, etc.
  • Many facilities are in more of a commercial area or a large space without nearby neighbors. But does anyone have to deal with issues like I have at my club, where neighbors wouldn’t appreciate loud music? If so, do you need to get permission?
  • Do you provide extra hats or sunscreen? (Speaking of sunscreen, it will make hands awfully slippery on those handlebars. Make sure to remind students to wipe them well; perhaps provide hand wipes.)
  • How about sunglasses? Colorado light is so brilliant that being outside without sunglasses, especially if there is pool glare nearby, would practically blind you.
  • Do you have a posted temperature limit? If it gets too hot or too humid do you put the kibosh on the outdoor workout? At the very least, do you lower the planned intensity when the mercury rises? Excessive heat can ruin a great workout!
  • What if it starts raining? Here in Colorado we can have clouds that look harmless, but before you know it a short afternoon shower comes in quickly. On the other hand, it’s maybe a 50/50 chance so you don’t want to NOT do it every time there are clouds!
  • In general, do your students like to be outside?

Please feel free to share your stories about taking your bikes outside and how you feel about teaching outdoors. I would love to see a picture of your outdoor classes! If you have a photo to share, please e-mail it to me at info@indoorcyclingassociation.com  If I get a handful of photos I’ll post them all in another post.

Below is a photo of Kristen Dillon teaching an outdoor class by the pool in Southern California. Now THAT would be great fun! This looks like the ideal scenario.



  1. In fact, it was so special, that those who could not be with us, are pleading for a repeat. And many of the students who did it are asking to be there again.Should be done early fall, with the colors. If you happen to be near Montreal on that day, I’m happy to tell you that you would be a great guest.

  2. If you remember the TOP GUN Training Audio Master Class from Robert Baldi, I modified it to make it a two hour ride and I’ve ask the Hotel in which the facility (Dispo Health Center) is located in, to go on top of the Hotel to ride that very energetic ride. It is a small facility but still we were 19 on the 10th floor with a magnificent view of the bay, with a fountain blowing water up to 50 or 60 feet in the air. Valleyfield (Québec, Canada) is located near Montreal and all airliners wanting to land in Dorval passes just over us, adding a surreal ambiance, if I may. Plus I have added sounds effects of fighter jets fly by and communications between pilots. It was a special ride. Thanks to Robert and ICA to offer us such inspiring Profiles. I’m proud to be an ICA Member and I did let it know to the students that the Profile was created by Robert Baldi and accessible via ICA website. Thanks to you Jennifer.

    1. That is fantastic, Gary! One of my aims is to turn my Top Gun ride into a longer special ride, including supporting video footage but to be on top of the city with planes flying overhead…no video can match that!

      I’m glad I could inspire something that must have been so special to everyone who was with you on that rooftop!

  3. This event is called Spin For Kids and the charity is our local boys and girls club. Last year we were able to donate over $10,000 to this amazing group! The young kids were there and they handed out water and towels to all the riders. This is the fourth year for this great cycling event. Several weeks later, there is a road bike ride of all different mileage that supports the Boys and Girls Club too and it is called Pedal for Kids. That way we can attract indoor and outdoor cyclists!

  4. Kristen is an outstanding Spinning (R) Instructor: always coming up with unique ways to make her classes more interesting. It is to her I give credit for influencing me to become a Spinning (R) Instructor. You rock, Kristen!

  5. Author

    Kristen, your ears must have been burning, that was a fast response! I was going to email you to see if you would fill us in. Why did I think this was Southern California? It looks AWESOME. Will you take some more photos at your next event and share your experience? What is the local charity?

  6. This was so much fun! This is actually on the coast of South Carolina…the beach is just behind the bikes! It is a special fundraiser we do each year to benefit a local charity. It was a three hour marathon with several instructors and gyms participating. It takes some planning and a lot of work to gets the bikes here but the participants LOVE it! We had a full stereo system and mic set up and we are getting ready to do it again this August. If anyone is in Hilton Head SC on August 24th, PLEASE come join the FUN!!!

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