We all at some point pick up bad habits, become sloppy or create short cuts to make life easier etc. Remember how diligent you were when leanrning to drive your car? But since then you may have adopted some 'lazy' techniques? Whilst some bad habits we pick up in life are ok, some are definitely not! One of which includes the way we teach our Spinning® Classes. So here are my 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' when Teaching Spinning® Classes. Use it as a checklist to make sure you haven't accidentially picked up any bad habits...
- Be egoless!
- Be professional!
- Be bike aware!
- Be safe and cater for ALL fitness levels!
- Arrive 10-15mins before every class to help new participants with bike set up and welcome others.
- Go through safety checks and bike set up before every class (do you know how to properly?).
- Encourage riders to ‘find their OWN resistance and pace’!
- Use different music genres to appeal to all ages and not just dance, pop or your aerobics type music!
- Teach a good cross section of ALL the 5 Spinning® Energy Zones: Recovery, Endurance, Strength, Intervals and Race Day.
- Encourage heart rate training and cue RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) to help participants gauge their intensities.
- Remember, if it’s not in your Spinning® Manual, then it’s NOT part of the Spinning® programme’! We are teaching ‘real’ cycling techniques and NOT aerobics on a bike!
- Try to discourage participants (usually those who are cyclists / triathletes) from riding in an ‘aerobar’ or ‘time trail’ position on the handlebars. If the position cannot be replicated exactly as on their bikes outside, it will detrain the muscle groups, which then become ineffective. Hyper extension also occurs in the lower back putting extra stress on the hamstrings. In addition, there is no training benefit to be gained.
- Keep the lights ON! The level of lighting when the lights are switched off does NOT meet the minimum safety requirement. Participants need to see both you for correct form technique and their heart rate monitors, and YOU need to see your participants! Things can and do go wrong, and it’s important that you can observe your class clearly to ensure you can act swiftly should an issue arise.
- Ask riders to wipe down their bikes after every class and on the last class of the evening take handlebars up to the maximum setting to allow adequate drying out and stop them from seizing up.
- Keep your Spinning® Certification up to date by gaining at least 14 STAR Points every 2 years from the date of your Spinning® Clinic. Spinning® is recognised by REPS (http://www.exerciseregister.org), so if Spinning® is all that you teach, you have to keep up to date to retain your Spinning® Certification to teach classes and your REPS Membership. If you let your Spinning® Certification expire, you will find that your Public Liability Insurance is no longer valid.
- Ensure that you have a valid Public Performance Licence (PPL) to legally play music (http://www.ppluk.com/), and a valid Public Liability Insurance Certificate. If you are a Freelance Instructor you may not be covered by the facilities you teach at...CHECK!
- Show all riders how fit you are by teaching / riding at speeds in excess of 110 RPM! It ISN’T fitness but unsafe and unrealistic, not to mention dangerous for those fit and especially those not so fit!
- Ride less than 60 RPM. It’s biomechanically inefficient and extremely stressful on the knees and lower back!
- Perform press-ups on the bike! It does NOT build strength and is a safety issue!
- Tell riders to ‘pull their abs in! How can they breathe from their diaphragm effectively?
- Tell riders how much resistance to add (‘1/4, 1/2 or a full turn’!). All bikes have a different amount of resistance on the brake springs. How about using positive suggestions like ‘make YOUR hill a little steeper if you want a harder challenge!’
- Tell riders to work ‘faster’ or ‘harder’, but rather use positive suggestions like a coach to motivate and inspire i.e. ‘the rider that pushes a bigger gear is the stronger rider!’
- Ride in hand position 3 when seated. It hyper extends the lower back and puts extra stress on the hamstrings making the riders’ form biomechanically inefficient.
- Perform popcorn jumps (less than 4 revolutions per leg). It’s inefficient, unsafe, unrealistic, and stressful on the knees and you’ll probably be out of control!
- Perform ‘hovers’, ‘isolations’ or ‘squats’. Too much stress is put on the joints, creates bad form and technique and biomechanical inefficiency. Why teach the body to do something bad for it?
- Ride with no hands on the handlebars in an attempt to stabilise the core. It’s unsafe and doesn’t allow for effective breathing to take place.
- EVER pedal backwards! It unscrews the pedals off the crankarms and puts too much leverage on the knee by forcing the kneecap to open!
- Use your classes for your own training! You are there for your participants not yourself.
- Just teach Intervals, Strength and Race Day classes! 85% or more of all Spinning® classes taught by most Instructors are at intensities greater than 75-85% MHR, so we are teaching our participants to over-train! Is it truly what participants ‘need’ or is rather what YOU want to teach because you haven’t the skills, education or experience to inspire and motivate? Do YOU feel your Participants would be bored if you tried something different like an endurance class? ‘Endurance = ^fitness, ^stamina and ^fat loss’!
- Teach what you perceive to be elite cycling sessions, such as maximal effort intensities. Remember, the majority of our participants are NOT cyclists, and will be looking for general health and fitness improvements and weight management. Too much anaerobic training reduces brain, muscle and metabolic function. It also reduces the aerobic function, therefore discouraging the body to burn fat as a source of fuel. Too much anaerobic activity will cause the body to burn more sugar but encourage it to store more fat!
- Teach any technique which works a particular muscle group more or less than it should naturally be worked from the normal biomechanics of cycling or take the muscle out of its optimal range. Examples:
- Trying to over work the hamstrings by leaning too far forwards beyond the centre of the bike.
- Sitting too far back from the widest part of the saddle or sitting over the back of the saddle in an attempt overwork the hamstrings.
- Sitting too far forward in the saddle and forcing the knee over the centre of the pedal to overwork the quads.
Always focus on the ‘real’ road riding techniques and always encourage correct safe form.
- Please remember a lot of Participants mirror their form, cadence and movements on YOU when riding. Most will copy exactly what you do, so if it’s too quick or too hard, it’s an accident or injury waiting to happen!
- Finally NEVER do leg stretches ON the bike! It puts too much stress on the pedal spindles and causes them to bend and eventually snap off! In addition, feet should not be placed on the handlebars to stretch as most peoples shoes have been outside, so who knows what may rub off onto the handlebars...yuck!
Just remember these simple guidelines:
- Would I do this on a bike outside?
- Is it safe?
- Could it lead to potential injury?
- Is it biomechanically efficient?
- Is there a training benefit?
Yours in health,
International Spinning® Master Instructor (UK)