Backstage Pass: How to plan for an indoor cycling class

Backstage Pass: How to plan for an indoor cycling class

Have you ever wondered how your indoor cycling instructor gets that heart rate up? How they always know what music to play (even when it’s that really cheesy number)? Ever wondered what work goes in to planning the perfect class?

Let me introduce you to the life of an indoor cycling instructor. The hours of planning, trialling and sweating our way through to delivery of that perfect session you love so much.

Step 1 – Get Qualified

There are a number of indoor cycling qualifications out there; I got mine through the training room as part of my level 3 personal training diploma. An add on to my gym based qualification which allowed me to branch out into the world of indoor cycling.

One of the most famous providers, Spinning; offer courses throughout the year. We have one coming to us August 2020 at Kimberley Leisure Centre. The qualification is valid for 2 years and then you are required to re-sit an online exam to keep going. They also offer many CPD’s (continued professional development) to up skill you and move you forwards .

Other providers out there include SoulCycle, YMCA, FutureFit and HFE

Step 2 – Pick your focus 

Maybe you want your participants to increase their fitness and for this you would need to plan an element of interval training to push their heart rate up and then breathe in sections of flat road at 50% MHR (maximum heart rate) to allow for recovery. Using faster music (pendulum or prodigy are two of my personal favourites) in this way will give your participants the ability to strengthen their heart muscle after pushing as high as 80-90% of their MHR for shorter periods of time.

One of my personal favourite sessions to plan is race day. Once every 8 weeks I like to plan in one mammoth session incorporating everything. Flat road, climbs – even a beastly downhill section. We might even get a puncture on the way meaning we have increased resistance for a time before a moment of recovery whilst we make the repair. A good way to help your clients visualise what the road ahead looks like allows them to fully immerse into the session, breeding a pretty fantastic session all around.

Step 3 – Music 

If I thought for one moment that 100% of my participants were all into the same music as me my playlist would be full of nothing more than bands such as Killing Joke, Rammstein, Korn and Little Boots; and yes I do throw in a little sprinkle of German heavy metal every once in a while. Having so much music available to us can sometimes be overwhelming so I like to go for a mixture by picking 2 tracks of my kind of music (Green Day are usually a good shout for jumps) and lace that with 4-5 of current artists – popular music choices. One or two from the 80s and 90s for nostalgia and at least one track of pure fun or cheese – something like Aqua’s Barbie Girl usually has me covered.

Sample Track List
Track 1 Warm Up
Bohemian Like you – Dandy Warhols
Flat road 60-80 RPM

Track 2 Pulse Raiser
Basement Jaxx – Bingo Bango
Incline 80-100RPM

Track 3 Hill Climb
Climb, heavy resistance 40-60RPM

Track 4 Jumps
Green Day – Holiday
90RPM, 8 counts/4counts

Track 5 Intervals
Chase and Status-Hypest Hype
Chorus, flat sprint 100-110RPM

Track 6 Hill Climb
Muse – Survival
Climb, heavy resistance 40-60RPM

Track 6 FUN !
Aqua – Barbie Girl
Jumps/Interval sprints

Track 7 Cool Down Stretch
Ellie Goulding – Love me like you do
60-80RPM + floor stretches

Step 4 – Choreography and Practice

Most of my classes are “choreographed”. Each track has certain moves at certain points in the song, and for this I need to know each track really well. I need to know when the fast bits are, when the natural recoveries might happen, so I listen, make notes and get on the bike in between classes.

I need to double check that my plans I made for my participants are safe, effective and achievable. It’s no good planning an hours’ flat out sprint if I can’t even make it through without breaking, or worse, not achieving. I also need to make sure that the session is fun and I enjoy it, get a good training benefit and that I know I’ve done it the following day!

This step is by far the most time consuming but puts you ahead of the game and when you’re confident in your session you are then ready to deliver it to your participants. This bit will set you apart from other instructors and make your sessions the most effective. Practice and test each track or session when you can would probably be my best piece of advice for any instructor out there teaching group ex. Make sure you’re one step ahead of everyone else and allow each session to be regressed or progressed as your participants need.

Step 5 – Teach

You’re ready to start, make sure you introduce yourself, ask for injuries and speak to anyone affected, check that everyone has access to a drink and are happy with their bike and set up. Enjoy the ride and make it as fun as you can, with a little bit of the technical stuff thrown in for your cyclists. Speak to the people in the class, encourage and motivate. I can guarantee the time will fly by and you will be buzzing by the end!

Our leisure centres host indoor cycling and spinning classes throughout the week; check out the timetable for more information

ChilwellKimberley | Bramcote

Heather Thornley