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Dining is an experience and so is the Spinning® program, but planning, prepping and teaching a Spinning class does not have to be “Hell's Kitchen.” Think of planning a class as if you were a chef at a restaurant. What's your five-course menu: appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert?  These are analogous to the five Energy Zones™. What ingredients will you use? Movements, objectives, goals, coaching cues, intensity, time, cadence and resistance. Plus, the all-important seasoning of music—get this wrong and the whole ‘dish’ is ruined!

  • Restaurant = SPINNING Studio
  • Michelin starred 1, 2, or 3 Chef = Spinning S.T.A.R. 1, 2 or 3 Instructor
  • Diners = Students
  • Menu = Energy Zones
  • Ingredients = Objectives, goals, coaching cues, time (duration), movements, intensity, cadence and resistance
  • Seasoning = Music

How do you keep your diners happy and coming back for more? If we put our chef’s hat on, we know that diners look for quality of food and service, presentation, choice, to feel welcome and to have a satisfying experience. 

This can also be related to our Spinning classes. We have five Energy Zones to ensure that students get a variety of scientifically-based intensities, and we must ensure that we teach all these Zones. Just think of how bored the diner would become being offered the same menu all the time. Training the body at various intensities keeps it consistently challenged and therefore avoids the point at which the body adapts to a stimulus (plateaus) and experiences a diminished return. Just as a diner is looking for delicious food that is sure to entice the pallet and tantalise the senses, the Spinning student is looking for a great ride that will keep them interested and improving.

Here’s the menu breakdown…

Recovery (Appetizer - A small dish of food taken before a meal to stimulate one's appetite).

Ingredients and Seasoning:


We’re looking for relaxation and energy accumulation. Meditation time and the mind / body connection. Focus on breathing to promote relaxation and enhance feelings of control. Use soft, rhythmic music to increase relaxation, allowing for both mental and physical recovery. New Age, Classical and World music is recommended e.g. Banco De Gaia, Era, or Francisco Sotomayor.

Endurance (Soup - Warming soup to nourish the soul).

Ingredients and Seasoning:

Endurance is the heart of our training. Cardiac output and an increase in blood flow lower the risk of heart disease, improve pedaling efficiency for overall economy in riding, increases aerobic capacity and fat metabolization and promotes resistance to fatigue. Use music as an effective tool for creating ‘flow’ and provide consistency without monotony (too much of one beat or type of vocal / genre can be boring). New Age and World music is recommended e.g. Solar Fields, Ulrich Schnauss, or Claude Challe.

Strength (Salad - ready-to-eat dish made of heterogeneous ingredients served chilled or at a moderate temperature).

Ingredients and Seasoning:


We’re here to build muscular strength and endurance by overloading the legs to become stronger and more powerful on hills. Lactate tolerance increases and we gain the ability to remain relaxed and focused and to turn adversity into opportunity. Music should be strong and driving without becoming overpowering. Determine the type of climb, then choose the music. Don’t be afraid to tell your riders to choose their own movements based on emotions or music. Use Dance, Rock, Techno-tribal, Trance or Movie Soundtracks e.g. Psydrop, Pendulum, Brian Tyler (movie musical composer).

Interval (Entrée - The main dish of a meal or between two principal courses of a meal).

Ingredients and Seasoning:



Here we develop the ability to recover quickly after work efforts, improve skill and coordination and create ‘benchmarking’. Use a wide variety of music—anything within reason goes! Keep the music on the work efforts upbeat and on the recovery sections soft and calming.

Race Day (Dessert - the final flourish of any meal which should leave your guests feeling as if they've enjoyed a real treat!).

Ingredients and Seasoning:


Here we test our peak performance and measure the progress of fitness gained from training in the other four Energy Zones. We can use a variety of techniques and heart rates, but they all demand your personal best! Our self-confidence increases and we get a greater satisfaction from exercise. It also improves our ability to set and achieve goals. Start with a high-energy 10-minute warm-up to build into the ride. Then, play a song that is primarily instrumental to allow time to focus on the task at hand. Finally, end with a fast-paced tempo  to the finish line. Action Movie Soundtracks are perfect for creating the Race Day ‘journey’!

So we have our basic meal plans, but another thing to think about is how we can offer a ‘well-balanced’ menu. Here’s my personal ‘menu’ planner covering 13 weeks.

Week 1 Endurance

Week 2 Strength Intervals

Week 3 Strength

Week 4 Aerobic Intervals

Week 5 High End Endurance

Week 6 Extensive Intervals

Week 7 Endurance

Week 8 Threshold Intervals

Week 9 Aerobic Intervals

Week 10 Strength

Week 11 Intensive Intervals

Week 12 High End Endurance

Week 13 Race Day & Recovery

2 of my personal ‘recipe’ book recommendations are:

  1. Spinning Ride Book Vol 1
  2. Spinning Ride Book Vol 2

If you want happy ‘diners’ coming back for more, week on week, think about what you ‘serve’ them. How you make them feel, with both what you say and don’t say? How is your attitude? Sometimes the simplest of ‘dishes’ are the most well-received, but every now and them, give them a real mouth-watering treat!

Author: Michelle Colvin

Michelle has been an international Spinning® Master Instructor since 2007. She leads Spinning certification clinics and continuing education throughout the UK and Europe and presents at major Spinning events around the world. Michelle co-owns a triathlon and cycling company that delivers coaching, metabolic assessment, cardiorespiratory examinations, as well as power and blood lactate analysis. Additionally, the company organizes and delivers training camps in the French Alps. Michelle has competed in triathlon races from sprint to full Ironman® distances.

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