I am very lucky to have the benefit of riding with great groups and have worked hard to provide them safe and effective workouts. Having a very full schedule of my own I don’t often get the chance to attend other classes as a participant. I like to believe that all instructors are teaching good cycling skills and keeping participants safe by avoiding contraindicated movements. Every once in a while a participant will ask me what the benefit is of a movement that was taught in another class. The movement is usually contraindicated and many times the participant is asking because they experienced pain or an awkwardness but didn’t want to be the only one in class not doing it.
Here is a very short list of contraindications that should never be part of any indoor cycling class.
- Floats, isolations (lots of names for this) – holding your body still puts all the force generated from pedaling to be absorbed by the joints leading to hip, knee and back pain. This also inhibits a participants ability to put a good amount of force on the pedals, which results in a lower power output and reduced calorie burn
- Riding with weights – With the hands occupied safety is compromised. If a rider’s foot comes out of the pedal they may fall into the handle bars causing injury. In addition when on the bike the participant is not in a stable position to lift weights with meaning. Cadence and force is compromised. The workout becomes mediocre compromising both cardio and strength training.
- Performing push ups on the bike – Just like riding with weights the focus is taken away from pedal technique. The participant does not get the full benefit of performing the push up and not being in a stable position is a risk for injury. Leave the push ups for the resistance training classes.
- Pedaling backwards – Sometimes while standing up, one handed. (What!). I don’t know the benefit of this, other than making me laugh when I picture someone doing this outside. Certainly safety is greatly compromised.
I don’t know why contraindicated movements end up in an instructor’s repertoire. I don’t believe any instructor deliberately intends to put their participants at risk for injury. I think ultimately they intend to deliver the program correctly but sometimes just lose their way or give in to the pressure imposed by uninformed participants who think these moves are fun and challenging.
Participants trust instructors to lead them through a workout that will help them improve or maintain their fitness. They expect that when an instructor teaches a specific movement, that it has a benefit and more importantly they will be safe doing it. Being an instructor is a privileged position. Instructors should take care to always ensure the participants safety.
Indoor cycling is just that, cycling. One of isn’t greatest attractions is its simplicity. Anyone can get on the bike, at any level and get a great workout. Doing all the crazy stuff takes away from the simplicity of a great workout. So why do it? I am forever asking myself that question.