5 Tips for Cycling Classes

by Martica Heaner, MA, MEd on Jan 26, 2012

Why do fitness facility members flock to ride in a group setting? Because a cycling class is much more than a workout: it's an experience. A great cycling class is a confluence of motivation and technique from the instructor and inspiration from the music. Here are 5 tips from top teachers for giving your students the ride of their lives.

1. Begin With the Bike-Fit Moment
Start bonding with members the minute they walk in the door. Use the bike-fit moment to get to know newbies and calm their fears, suggests Jay Blahnik, Schwinn® master trainer based in Laguna Beach, California. Even if your class is full of regulars, offer to recheck bike alignment. “Use this time to connect and make old-timers feel welcome and appreciated,” says Blahnik.

2. Let Them Know What to Expect
Whether it’s at the start of class, or at the beginning of each song, students will be better able to pace and mentally prepare themselves if they know what to expect. “I go crazy when the instructor just yells, ‘Sprint!’ without giving any idea of how long the sprint will last, how much recovery I’ll get and how many times I’ll have to do it,” says Amy Dixon, Schwinn master trainer and group fitness manager of Equinox in Santa Monica, California. “Always let them know how fast to pedal, the type of terrain, the level of intensity you want them to aim for, and for how long.”

3. Keep It Simple
“Pick one objective for class,” says Shannon Derby, Spinning® master trainer/master Spinning instructor and owner of Mountains’ Edge Fitness in Boulder, Colorado. “Focus on theme music, hill repeats, pedal stroke drills or heart rate—just don’t try to make it all happen in one class.” Says Los Angeles–based Schwinn master trainer Keli Roberts: “Be confident that if you’re playing good music, you can stay silent some of the time and allow the highs and the lows of the music to teach for you.”

4. Visualize Sparingly
Too much touchy-feely talk can get corny. “You don’t have to talk the entire class,” says Rosemary Hohl-Chriswisser, MS, Schwinn master trainer and professional triathlon coach based at Life Time Fitness in Austin, Texas. “Stick to one visualization per class if you do them at all, and use instrumental music (like Robert Miles’s ‘Children’), so that your story doesn’t compete with lyrics,” recommends Hardy Pollard, cycling instructor at The Houstonian in Houston.

5. Provide Effective Coaching
It's one thing to be positive and motivating. It's another for the instructor to yell ‘Woo-hoo’ for 45 minutes. “Make sure that coaching doesn’t turn into senseless cuing,” says Dixon. “Comments should add depth and clarity.” Focus instead on creating an incredible playlist. You won’t have to whoop, because your members will do it for you.

For 5 more tips, plus expert advice on technique, please see “A Smoother Ride” in the online IDEA Library or in the November–December 2011 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 10, Issue 2

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Martica Heaner, MA, MEd

Martica Heaner, MA, MEd IDEA Author/Presenter


  • Log In to Comment
  • Martica Heaner

    Great comments, thank you!
    Commented May 29, 2012
  • Eileen Mae Sheppard

    Great Article for newbies and reminders for existing instructors/coaches
    Commented Feb 27, 2012
  • Athman Issa Mmether

    Commented Feb 10, 2012
  • Marie Sorell

    This is a great article. I have taken those classes where the instructor yells motivational touchy feely queues non-stop, keeps the mic loud and the music low. I think I'll copy this and take this article to her.
    Commented Feb 10, 2012

    I don't yell at all and I'm far from a chatter :-) There's an instructor who screams from start to finish. YIKES!! I wouldn't last more than five mins. I had to learn what works and what doesn't for me as a fitness professional, regardless what "x" instructor(s) is or is not doing. I prefer to "keep in real" and those who attend my sessions, come for the total experience, not because there's an class on schedule. Their positive feedback and suggestions I love and that's what keeps me in the game. :-) Be well...
    Commented Feb 07, 2012

Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

The Reason Your Clients Don't Achieve Their Goals

Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimatin...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Show More