I recently did a Facebook Live in my private group about a subject that gets a lot of heat in the indoor cycling world...
The indoor cycling industry has changed quite a bit in the last twenty, ten, even 5 years, and if you're certified in traditional old-school methods (like me), you'll see a lot of movements in new age cycling classes that your certification calls contraindications.
Okay but...What the heck is a contraindication?
A contraindication is a movement on the bike that goes against what traditional certifications define as safe and/or effective. Some examples of contraindicated moves would be push-ups on the handlebars, hovering, weights on the bike, etc.
From what I've seen, there are two extreme camps of instructors:
These are the "old school" certified instructors who would never agree to do any of these so-called contraindicated movements.
If this is you, you're probably reading this blog hoping that I condemn contraindications and confirm that "we should never do anything on an indoor bike that we wouldn't do outside."
These are the instructors who started teaching more recently and/or have adapted to the "party on the bike" mentality.
You guys are probably hoping I put the old-schoolers in their place, telling them that the new age cycling classes get people in the door with a fun way to sweat, and that's what matters.
The Clash of the Camps
Over the last decade, indoor cycling instructors have been spending way too much time and energy arguing that their way is the "right" way, and most of these arguments get pretty nasty.
I've seen traditional indoor cycling forums where Master Instructors are calling people "untrained" and "stupid".
Likewise, I've seen non-traditional forums where new age instructors name call the old-school peeps "boring" and "snobby".
I'm all for intelligent debate, but please trust me when I tell you that no one is going to hear your argument (even if it's a good one) if it's littered with insults.
At the end of the day, we all have to decide what we are comfortable with.
Do you want to give people a party on a bike, or teach them how to ride like they would outside?
Do you want to give a full body workout with some weights and push-ups, or do you teach your riders the benefits of doing these moves on the floor?
What are your priorities?
These are hard decisions and I can't make them for you, but I can give you some tools that you need to make these decisions on your own.
How to Decide for Yourself
There are three core elements that I always consider before doing any move on an indoor bike (in order of importance):
Could one of your riders hurt themselves while attempting this move?
I use what I've learned about exercise science in my certifications as both an instructor and a trainer, combined with clinical evidence and my own personal experience to determine what I deem "safe". This will vary from instructor to instructor, just as it does among personal trainers, Crossfit coaches, high school football coaches, etc.
At the end of the day, we all have to be ready to face the consequences if someone gets hurt in our classes. Just keep that in mind when you make your decision.
Is this move getting your riders closer to their goals?
Is it promoting endurance?
Raising their heart rate?
Is it distracting them from their workout, or is it exciting them enough that they work harder?
3. "Fun" factor
Even though this is last on my list, it is still so very crucial to consider if we want to be the best instructors we can be.
If a class is fun and your riders truly enjoy themselves, then they will associate exercise with happiness, and that will keep them coming back for more. Consistency is key if you want them to reach their goals.
Shoot me an email at email@example.com if you need a little help deciding where you stand. And if you're up for some intelligent, friendly debate, make sure you join my Indoor Cycling Instructor Crew! We would love to have you 🙂
Hi, I'm Kate!
I've been an indoor cycling instructor for over a decade. I'm a certified Level 2 Spinning® Instructor and I've gone through dozens of other certifications and continuing education courses. I also teach other forms of group fitness and I'm a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. But indoor cycling has always been my first love.
I know from my own experience and from talking with other instructors that getting a certification is not enough to feel comfortable and confident up on an instructor stage. Unfortunately, there are just not enough resources to help instructors get what we need to teach our best classes.
So, I took all of the difficult elements of being an instructor - the ones that I used to struggle with - and I built solutions. And I continue to build solutions as I uncover more and more of the instructor struggle. You can download some of my free resources here, and make sure you join my free private Facebook group called the Indoor Cycling Instructor Crew. I'm in there all the time answering questions and giving out lots of good info. We would love to have you! Join us here.