Will you be teaching a “holiday” or “Christmas” ride?

Will you be teaching a “holiday” or “Christmas” ride this year in your indoor cycling class? Does your club take a stance on whether you are allowed to play “Christmasy” or other types of holiday songs in your classes? Since there are often debates on the political correctness of “Christmas”, I’d love your input on a few questions I have.(This is a rewrite of article I posted last year at my other site. I’ve edited it a bit for this year.)

Thanksgiving is the typical beginning of the holiday season here in the US so we are well into the season right now. And as we move into the Christmas (or holiday) season, I have a few questions for you to ponder. I would love your input – please leave a comment below.

  • Have you ever done a Christmas or Holiday Spinning® or indoor cycling class?
  • Are you planning on doing a Christmas or Holiday ride in your Spinning® or IC class this year?
  • Has your club done any other holiday theme party or event that included indoor cycling and/or other group fitness classes (such as a contest, as a means to keep members coming during the holidays)?
  • Are you looking for holiday theme song ideas?
  • Does you club take a stance on whether you are allowed to play “Christmas” or other holiday songs in your classes? Or do you just make the decision for yourself? Do you feel like you have to ask your students if they mind?
  • Does your club put up Christmas decorations?
  • If so, do they include decorations from a variety of religious beliefs, or do they try to keep it secular? (I guess any “Christmas” decoration can be considered religious by some, although it now seems like society views it mostly as  secular if it doesn’t contain obvious Christian references like a creche or angels.)
  • Do your members welcome holiday references? Or do they complain about them?

Last year there was a rather fierce debate going on in one of the indoor cycling forums about whether playing “holiday” songs is appropriate or not. I have my opinion, and I’ll give you my own view later this week when I post some holiday songs, but I’m interested to know what you guys think or if your club takes a stance on the subject. It comes up every year on the network televisions, but it seems to be even more divisive this year with certain television news shows complaining loudly about official “Holiday Tree Lighting” ceremonies instead of “Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies”.

It just seems so silly to me…

I’m actually curious if other countries have as much debate about the “political correctness” of Christmas, and if this debate seeps into the club environment or your Spinning® room. If you are from another country, make sure to add your voice to the conversation!


  1. Christmas ride? Yes.

  2. I’ve done one Christmas themed ride, and am repeating it tomorrow morning. We’ve got decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas competitions (run to Lapland is the best one), lights, tinsel, the works.

    Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s Christmas. The Mass of Christ, celebrating what one large and dominant religion (other religions are available) belive to be the day of the birth of the son of God. For a country that has ‘In God We Trust’ written on it’s legal tender (unless that’s been changed), I find the whole Christmas/Holiday debate ridiculous. Has anyone suggested taking that phrase off the dollar? Imagine the outcry. Or if we changed the txt spk phrase OMG! to OM non denominational deity! (probably less of an outcry but it’s indicative of the prevenlence of references to God in our modern culture)

    I don’t believe (or Trust) in God, but I believe in the idea of families coming together, swapping gifts and having fun; other religions have similar celebrations and in countries where those religions are dominant, or even not dominant, they should be celebrated with the same joy and happiness that we have for Christmas. The world is no longer a place where people should take offence at such things, but instead embrace and enjoy the diversity of cultures before globalisation homoginises every town and city into a carbon copy of a capitalists dream (Starbucks on on corner, McDonalds on the other). So, have a Merry Christmas, and at the appropriate times, Hannuka, Divali, Imbolc, etc etc.
    In other words, be well, love one another, have a jolly good time.

  3. Each year I do a different holiday ride and my groups look foward to them. One year I did a “sleigh ride” and gave out cocoa afterwards. I’ve done a credit card themed ride in which we play a game to see who can pay theirs off first. This year I am doing “beat Santa’s sleigh.” I have music targeting different countries as Santa makes his way around the world. My club has no restrictions and I announce it well in advance.

  4. Generally I never do holiday rides, since there are other instructors at our club that do theme rides (pick a holiday!). Adding one more theme ride to the mix doesn’t seem to add any value.

    I will mix in a few fun holiday classics for cool down… back door santa by bb king or i wont be home for xmas by Blink 182.

  5. I think b/c it’s an excel spreadsheet…. 🙁
    I was able to open as we have excel but I can’t open most of the podcast PDF’s….

  6. I am not limited in my holiday music in any of the 3 clubs where i teach.That said, I do not do a christmas music ride as everyone else does and the members are happy for the break from the constant barage of christmas music that has been here since just before thanksgivng…

  7. Every holiday season I have been leading classes I have used Jennifer’s Alpe d’Huez ride… this year will be no different albeit a new club with new members who haven’t really “gotten” me yet. They’re used to the one song/one move, aerobics on a bike type style. I’ve warned them that we will be doing 45 minutes of pure climbing with a very different kind of class. I hope those who come will enjoy it. My classes at other clubs have!

  8. What great timing of this article. My husband and I just opened our studio today!!! We had our inaugural ride this morning. I’ll be following your advice closely. We already have taken your advice by not adding in any upper body work, and avoiding gimmicks. We know that it will be a challenge to try to grab a hold of some of the market share. But our focus is definitely quality and service. We were inspired to do this because we were sick of riding in big box gyms where all of the bikes were broken and the sound system was terrible and management never seems to care about fixing anything. Check out our facebook page. Keep writing and we’ll keep on “keeping it real”.


  9. I teach at the YMCA, so there is no conflict in celebrating xmas during class, and I usually get requests for holiday-themed music around this time of year. My “problem” with holiday music, though, is that it’s pretty awful stuff. It’s so cheesy, and it’s difficult to find anything that has a decent beat. I do use Trans-Syberian Orchestra, but I can only count on them so much. If you could suggest some music that would not make me cringe, I would be ever so grateful!

    Thanks Jennifer!

  10. Moritz had it right, roughly 3/4 of our energy is lost as heat. But the main point is that it’s lunacy to deliberately increase the heat load on exercisers. It may feel harder if you’re about to pass out, but that’s where knowledge can come in handy. 🙂

    The analogy I use for this is to think about how hard you’re working as you sweat and suffer in a very hot sauna..

    “During graded exercise, only about 20-25%
    of all the consumed metabolic energy is con-
    verted into mechanical work, while the rest
    emerges as heat load in the internal environment..”

    from: Ament, Wim, and Gijsbertus J Verkerke. 2009.

  11. Each year I do an annual Christmas ride. I announce it a few weeks prior, so that
    anyone is isn’t religiously inclined, or celebrate the holidays has the option not to attend, I have found in general people don’t really mind. Most of my participants
    even those that aren’t religious view it as a little bit of fun, adding variety to class.
    I alternate themes each year either being reindeers or elves on a mission for santa to help him find that Christmas spirit and spread a bit of joy. At the end of class I give them a small Christmas decoration as a token of my thanks for riding w/ me throughout the year. This year 1 of my regulars commented to another that she has 4 decorations from previous years, others comment on the how they will never be able to listen to certain christmas songs again without associating that tune w/ the challenge it represented. Some even dress up to get in the spirit of things, me included. This year was the 1st year that one of my clubs promoted a christmas themed week. Feedback from regulars suggested that they were actually disappointed that not many other instructors ran with the theme.

  12. I try to do oe ride in each of my classes on the week of the 25th. I’m not worried about offending people with Christian references. My feeling is that if someone wants to be offended that is their problem. I limit myself to one Christmas ride per class as I think we get enough Christmas music on the radio and in the malls. I have only had one person that questioned my having Christmas music for a ride and that was a very brief “Christmas music!?”.

  13. Although I am of no religious affiliation (born in Iran, a muslim country) I always do a themed class for Thanksgiving, Xmas, Valentine, Vet day… I love to celebrate the holidays mine or others! We are in a country where the majority celebrate Xmas so why not? How does that take away from any other religious belief? I love the spirit of Xmas holiday! I take it more as a cultural holiday rather than a religious one, just as Thanksgiving is. Like Kala, I do announce that we will be doing the theme class a week before, so they have a choice to come or skip that class! Oh and I like the idea of decorating the bike with lights!
    Happy holidays to all!!

  14. One of my favorite rides to do in the past is to pretend we are reindeer and I take them through the story of Santa getting ready, delivering presents, and returning home (the idea is thanks to another instructor off of a forum). It has always been well-received, especially since I do a “one time” thing and I tell people ahead of time, so that if they are uncomfortable with Santa/Christmas/holidays/etc they can choose to take another class or not come to mine that day.

    I think whether you are for/against if you are allowed, a simple “On Tuesday we will be doing a Christmas ride” is enough to allow your riders to make their own decision regarding how they feel about it.

    Looking forward to hearing others’ responses!

  15. I declared December a month of “theme” rides where people could choose to relax and ride moderately or work really hard to forget the stressors of their “real” life. There are options for each built into my profiles. I reassured them that the themes weren’t overtly Christmasy. I think I might have lost people if they thought they were going to hear Christmas music all month.

    So far we have done a ride I call No More Shopping, No More War that tracks from songs about lists and shopping and malls to handmade items to “all I want” songs and ends with Happy Christmas (War is Over).

    Then I did a more lyrical ride called December Snow where we anticipated the snow, played in the first snowfall of the year, went sledding, skating and played hockey, took a sleigh ride (the horses bolted!!) and then walked home in the deep snow (great for pedal work!) and admired the holiday lights.

    Next we are doing a day in December – from the school concert to the mall to see Santa to home to watch videos (Charlie Brown, Grinch), then off to the office party and then to see the Nutcracker before returning to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Then we will do a jittery ride (stressors of the season) using music from the just-released soundtrack to Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, followed by more relaxing seasonal music from around the world.

    Then I will do a Solstice ride and follow up with something I call Energy of the Season which doesn’t make any references to the Christian celebration. My test is to ask myself whether the songs might be used as part of a carol service in a local church.

    I have no mandate from the facility where I teach but I view screening the seasonal songs as equivalent to screening for explicit language. It makes me more comfortable as an instructor to know that there’s no chance I am making anyone in the room uncomfortable. Last year I decorated the room and my bike with lights for the last ride before Christmas. It seemed to be a hit so I will probably do the same again this year.

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