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Sample Class: Cycling for Teens

Introduce a new generation to the many benefits of exercise.

Indoor cycling is more popular than ever, and it offers many opportunities to inspire young people—specifically the under-18 crowd. It's also a perfect excuse to play high-energy, deejay-style tunes and inject a little extra fun so you motivate teenagers to stay in the saddle and enjoy the ride.

When planning a cycling workout for this age group, align yourself with a teenage brain. Think of what would motivate your kids, your friends' kids or even your younger self. For example, most teens are naturally drawn to upbeat music and a social atmosphere (made more enjoyable with a bestie). And young people enjoy exercising for fun, so create a workout
that isn't typical or boring. Try these eight cycling drills with teens and find out if this is a new niche for you.

Cycling for Teens Details

TOTAL TIME: approximately 45 minutes

FORMAT: indoor cycling (mixed terrain with flats and hills)

GOAL/EMPHASIS: high-energy ride with a party vibe

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: indoor bikes and long, thin glow sticks that can bend into bracelets (optional)

MUSIC: Choose a variety of songs, including Top 10, remixes, dance and house.

Check lyrics to ensure word choices and themes are appropriate. If you're not sure what's trending, ask a teen! Shoot for 135 beats per minute; cadence: 60–110 revolutions per minute.

Preworkout prep: Before class, place a glow stick on each bike. Decorate the studio with any remaining glow sticks. Position the bikes so each rider has a clear view of you. Dim the lights, and play energetic background music. If the cycling studio has a screen, stream music videos.

Class introduction: Ensure that all participants are set up correctly on their bikes. Quickly go over the class components and share technique tips for a more comfortable ride. If the bikes are equipped with computers, review the key metrics. Keep the energy light, engaging and welcoming.

Warm-Up (5–6 minutes)

Terrain: flat road

  • Start with a cadence of ∼85 rpm and ask teens to self-select an easy resistance.
  • Include three 30-second pickups (increases in cadence), going up to ∼95–100 rpm at a slightly higher gear.
  • Emphasize good pedaling technique.
  • Alternate between focusing on right- and left-leg pedaling. "Push down with the right leg and pull up with the left for 15 seconds; then switch."
  • Ask the teens to wrap a glow stick around their wrists if they haven't already.

Drill 1: HIIT It! (5 minutes)

Terrain: flat road

  • Increase work duration with a set recovery time.
  • Begin at a moderate resistance; cadence ∼90 rpm.
  • Increase cadence and gear for the first set (30 seconds).
  • Recover for 30 seconds at baseline intensity.
  • For each subsequent set, challenge riders to maintain intensity. The second work phase is 60 seconds; the third, 90 seconds.

Drill 2: Thrill of the Hill (4–5 minutes)

Terrain: moderate incline

  • Gradually increase the cycling effort from flat road to incline.
  • Ask teens to add gear until pedaling starts to feel challenging.
  • Transition to a standing climb.
  • Hold a steady climb, adding resistance every minute for 4 minutes.
  • "Attack" to the crest of the hill and then cruise "down" at a flat-road gear for 1–2 minutes.
  • Once class reaches the bottom of the "hill," cue riders to wave their glow sticks in the air.

Drill 3: Pick-Me-Up (5 minutes)

Terrain: flat road

  • Ask riders to self-select a moderate gear, maintaining a steady-state cadence at ∼90 rpm.
  • Randomly call out 10-second intervals based on glow-stick colors. "If you're wearing neon yellow, go! Blue, go!"
  • Include active recovery between sets.
  • Observe your group before calling out the next pickup. Encourage riders to pick up their cadence while staying below 110 rpm.
  • Use the last interval as a final push: Add an element of surprise by including a 30-second sprint.

Drill 4: Pokémon's Peak (7 minutes)

Terrain: mixed

  • Establish a moderate-intensity baseline with imagery of a flat road and slight headwind.
  • Add one gear every 30 seconds until you reach 2 minutes total.
  • Transition to a standing climb.
  • Climb steadily for 90 seconds with a 30-second burst to the top.
  • Move into seated position and increase the cadence without changing gears. Maintain intensity for as long as possible.
  • "Attack" to the top in the last 15 seconds.
  • Release gears and ride "downhill" for 1–2 minutes.

Drill 5: Acceleration Alert (5 minutes)

Terrain: flat

  • Establish a moderate baseline gear.
  • Progressively increase cadence by 10 rpm, starting at 70 rpm and continuing to 100 rpm.
  • Finish the set at 105–110 rpm for 30 seconds.
  • Recover for 1 minute and repeat the same set at a higher starting gear.
  • Between sets (during recovery), cue participants to drum their glow sticks to the beat of the music.

Drill 6: Ride Your Ride (3 minutes)

Terrain: undefined

Think of this as a "nondrill." Play a high-energy song and let the teens plan their own rides, self-selecting a baseline gear, cadence and riding position. Let the music be the motivator, and cue only during the last minute.

Drill 7: Glow-Stick Challenge (4 minutes)

Terrain: steep climb

  • Begin seated at a challenging gear, 1 minute.
  • Change to a slightly higher gear and accelerate uphill, out of the saddle, attacking the climb.
  • Add progressive attacks of 10, 15 and 20 seconds, respectively. For example: 50-second climb/10-second attack; 45-second seated climb/15-second standing attack; and 40-second seated climb/20-second standing attack.
  • Option: Split teens into three groups based on glow-stick colors. Each team takes on attack challenges.

Drill 8: Don't Be Late! (3 minutes)

Terrain: flat

The final drill is a race to the finish line! Cue a mixed terrain that includes rolling hills and a flat road with a final, 45-second race to the finish. Ask everyone to imagine there's a single-lane bridge right before the finish line. See who can get on the bridge—and then reach the end—first! The teen who gets his or her glow stick up in the air while cheering the loudest is the winner!

Cool-Down (5 minutes)

Terrain: flat

Use the cool-down to check in and engage the group in conversation. Encourage teens to share feedback, including what songs they'd love to hear in future classes. Come off the bike for a final stretch.

Music-driven indoor cycling classes are the perfect format to inspire teens to move more, stick with exercise and maybe even try something new (with a friend or two!).


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Krista Popowych

Krista Popowych inspires fitness leaders, trainers and managers around the globe with her motivating sessions. She is the 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and a three-time (2016, 2008, 2003) canfitpro Canadian Fitness Presenter of the YearShe is Keiser’s global director of education, as well as a Balanced Body® master trainer, JumpSport® consultant, DVD creator, published writer, Adidas-sponsored fit pro and IDEA Group Fitness Committee member.

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