View Full Version : Spin or Cycle

11-24-2010, 09:10 AM
In 2008 I started developing progressive, power based cycling workouts to use with our Keiser M3ís. Since then Iíve learned a few things that I want to share. If you are a spin instructor or health & fitness facility owner and desire to increase the utilization of your cycling equipment then read on. You may be able to attract an underutilized market segment to your classes and maybe even new members to your facility.

In my opinion spin and cycling are different. Itís not a case of one being better than the other itís just that they are different. An article by Chris Carmichael published by Bicycling Magazine titled ďWill an indoor-cycling class at my local gym help me in the winter?Ē does a wonderful job of answering a recurring question from cyclists. Please read the article, itís attached.

Iíve proven to myself over the last couple of years that most of the athletes that go to spin classes probably arenít dedicated, competitive cyclists. Conversely, most of the dedicated, competitive cyclists that frequent your club probably donít participate in spin classes.

Here lies the opportunity:

If you can focus your cycling programming on the needs of the competitive cyclist then you may be able to tap a previously underutilized market segment. Forget for now about improving your spin classes. Itís likely you are already addressing the needs of the spin crowd. Focus on the cyclist and always remember spinning and cycling are different.

If you want to venture down the path of developing cycling classes for competitive cyclists then please consider incorporating the following:

Make it seasonal. Cyclists will seek out indoor cycling opportunities during periods of bad weather. For many parts of the US the opportune time of the year to bring cyclists indoors is late fall to early spring. Forget about trying to get cyclists to ride bikes indoors when the weather is nice.
Make your class time bound. That is, have a specific start and end date for your cycling class. You will need this as an instructor so you can adequately plan for the workout progression over time. The cyclist will appreciate this so they can ďpeakĒ at the end of the class and be ready for the next step in their training.
Have classes that are structured and are based on stress then recovery. Avoid the ďsufferfestĒ mentality.
Plan your workouts to address specific energy systems and power demands. Get used to doing endurance, threshold, tempo, etc. workouts.
Most competitive cyclists delve into the technical side of cycling performance. They are accustomed to measuring their performance and making comparisons. It is mandatory that each athlete measure their work and be able to track their improvement over time. To accomplish this you will need to employ a power meter or a heart rate monitor and ideally both.
Design the workouts to be progressive in nature, that is start with endurance, base building workouts (long duration, low intensity) and progress up to power building workouts (short duration, high intensity). Remember, the cyclist is using this as a way to get from point A to B. In this case, starting out ďnewĒ at the beginning of the cycling season with the goal of being ready to hit it hard when cycling moves outdoors.
Make your cycling classes registered. That is, each participant signs up for the duration of the class. This way the cyclist doesnít have to compete to sign up for a bike and maybe get bumped now and then. Remember, its progressive training, itís important to the cyclists that once they start this progression that they donít get interrupted.
Itís perfectly acceptable to make your cycling class fee based. Their fee will get them a guaranteed spot in class each time, it will get them structured and progressive training and it will get them the use of a bike when the weather is too bad to be outside on their own.

A few other related comments:

Donít try to mix spinning and cycling techniques in the same class. If you are in a spin class and try to do a long duration, low intensity base building workout you may have people leave the room. It happened to me once. Conversely, if you have a group of cyclists in a room and start doing jumps or slides they will probably fall off their bikes laughing.
If you end up leading both spin and cycling classes develop the mindset that you wear a different hat, bring a different mindset, depending on whether you are leading a spin or cycling class.
Progressive training is very important to the cyclist. Always remember that a cyclist is trying to get from point A to B. Start your progressive workouts with base building types of drills. Donít fall into your old spin habits and feel like you need to deliver a killer workout on the first day of class.
If you venture down the path of cycling classes be patient. It will probably take a couple of seasons to build a following. The biggest obstacle will be that the cyclist will see you as a spin instructor, not a cyclist. You will have to prove to cyclists over time that you are serious, educated and committed to delivering the types of workouts that will help them with their goal to improve their cycling performance.
When you list your cycling class on the club calendar donít use Spin I (spin) and Spin II (cycling) terminology. Try to disassociate the cycling class from the spin class as much as possible. If you in fact have bikes with power meters try to work in the word ďPowerĒ in your class name.
It may be difficult for a seasoned spin instructor to adapt to and get excited about developing and teaching a cycling class. Donít hesitate to recruit a cyclist that is typically on the periphery of your spin classes to lead this charge.

Long winded, I know, sorry. I hope some of you find some of this helpful.