Fitness trail: What to know before you join indoor group cycling programs
Over the past 30 years, indoor group cycling programs have become standard offered programming in thousands of fitness facilities. Due to the low impact aspects of indoor cycling, lack of complex choreography, motivating music, group exercise environment and what can be an incredible cardiovascular workout, it is no wonder that these programs are so popular.
As with any program, however, there are those that excel at providing sound, safe and effective cycling programs to their clients and those that may not. Therefore, this week 10 guidelines will be highlighted that you might consider prior to joining an indoor group cycling program, ensuring a great indoor group cycling experience. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
1. Before walking into an indoor group cycling class, perform your due diligence. Check out the program specifics, the qualifications of the program director and the program instructors/trainers. There are specific certifications for indoor group cycling instructors, which should be combined with the foundational group exercise or personal training certifications.
2. A working knowledge of everything from pedaling mechanics, to understanding what true high intensity interval training is when performed on the bike, to proper postural alignment on the bike, the amount of resistance that is appropriate for each cadence level, along with industry accepted methods for determining intensity, should be expected of the instructor.
3. An ideal combination would be a university degree in a health or fitness related field, combined with quality indoor group cycling instructor certifications, outdoor cycling experience and at least 3-5 years teaching on the bike.
4. While checking out the program, confirm that it is a structured, goal-oriented program.
5. Indoor group cycling programs should simulate an outdoor cycling experience. Therefore, if you do not do it outside, you should not be performing it inside. This includes using any other equipment when riding.
6. Ask the owner or manager if the bikes are maintained at least weekly and daily in some of the larger clubs where there are over six to 10 classes a day and dozens of bikes. Sweat and regular use may negatively impact the working parts of the bike creating an unsafe, very unpleasant experience for the rider.
7. Room temperature and ventilation are also important safety factors. Keeping the room cool enough and keeping the air moving to provide proper ventilation are critical.
8. Many claims are made by riders about the high intensity level of indoor group cycling classes. And while we may work intensely in our classes, many of the claims are greatly exaggerated. Therefore, if you are new to cycling, just take the same precautions you do when beginning any program (i.e. start slowly, choose a beginner class if offered and discuss your needs with the instructor/trainer/coach).
9. Make certain a professional bike fit is performed prior to riding and a bike fit card provided. Bike fit is essential for a safe and effective ride and every instructor/trainer/coach should possess significant experience fitting riders on their bikes.
10. What is the profile? A profile is the actual ride or course you will be performing that day. It should be posted and visible for the rider, the instructor/trainer/coach should provide the class with pre-class instruction for the ride and describe specifically what you will be experiencing during that ride.
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