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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.