Of course it’s hard to get up early when you go to bed late. Early morning workouts are sooooo much better when you set yourself up for success.
3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success
- Eat a balanced meal the night before.
- Oh, and better yet, try setting out your gym clothes the night before.
- Begin your calm and peaceful evening routine earlier in the evening so you’re ready to go to bed at a decent hour.
- Bonus! Figure out what you’re going to eat for your early morning pre-workout snack the night before. (Try some of these overnight oats recipes.)
Life can be full of excuses…
Something came up. I’m tired. I’m hungry. Traffic is bad.
Good news! It doesn’t have to be! Many of us are busy with schedules that get more and more unpredictable as the day unfolds.
The number one excuse for lack of exercise and physical activity is time.
The trick is blocking time off for yourself every single day. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, make sure to protect this time with all your might. Purposefully identify it and protect it.
Not it’s time to ask you a very important question. Why NOT try early morning workouts? Please don’t say, “I’m not a morning person.” Wait. Have you tried working out in the morning at least 3 times?
Yes? How did it go?
No? When will you do it?
Did you know?
And on top of that…
A research team of a California-based biotechnology company 23andMe, attempted to uncover the genetic predisposition of morning and night people. (N=89,283)
“The researchers found that after taking into account the effect of age and sex, morning people were likely to have lower – and thus generally more healthy – BMI, or body-mass index, a measure of the ratio between height and weight.” (source: www.theguardian.com, 2017)
Personally, I despise BMI (Body Mass Index) as a number to focus on when it comes to your health and wellness. It’s merely a ratio between your height and body weight and can easily be off-set for muscular individuals who may not be very tall.
After probing a bit deeper, I came across a study that found exercising 30 minutes on 3 mornings per week caused people between the ages of 40 and 60 years old to experience a 10% drop in blood pressure throughout the day.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Read more about the benefits of early morning (and evening) workouts here.
So go ahead. Set your alarm.Go to bed early and hit the gym in the morning!
In the spirit of Valentine’s and celebrating the power of individuals and complementary couples, we wanted to highlight two of the best exercise couples. These aren’t any type of couples–they are SUPER SET couples!
What’s a super set?
“The superset system uses two exercises performed in rapid succession of one another.”
Couple 1: Bench Press + Push Ups
This is an example of “performing two exercises for the same muscle group back to back.” Completing exercises in this format improves muscle endurance and size. If you want to kick it up a notch, try adding one or two more exercises targeting the same muscle. Using the example above, you could add a Dumbbell Chest Press and Resistance Band Chest Press.
Couple 2: Squats + Dead Lift
This is an example of “performing two exercises back to back that involve antagonist[, or opposing,] muscle groups.” Performing super sets in this manner allows you to place a higher load on target muscle(s) in each exercise. While one muscle group is working, the other is resting.
Want to learn how to integrate super sets into your workout routine? Contact us today!
Source: (National Academy of Sports Medicine, 2014)
Have you ever seen someone in the gym that looks a little bit like the Predator?
You know, wearing a breathing mask on their face? Curious about these masks and their use?
They are called “hypoxia masks.”
Hypoxia (also known as hypoxiation) is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. (Merriam-Webster, 2016)
A 2010 research study concluded that “hypoxia as a supplement to training is not consistently found to be advantageous for performance at sea level. Stronger evidence exists for benefits of hypoxic training on performance at altitude.”
In other words, if you’re going to compete or begin training in Denver (5,280 ft above sea level), hike in Tibet (14,000 ft above sea level), or compete on Mount Everest (29,035 ft above sea level) anytime soon, you might want to add hypoxia training to your fitness regimen. But before you do, PLEASE CONSULT A MEDICAL DOCTOR.
So, what’s the point of using a hypoxia mask if you are not a hard core athlete?
Another research study conducted back in 2007 concluded that “acute exposure of moderately trained subjects to normobaric hypoxia [i.e., a barometric pressure equivalent to pressure at sea level] during a short-term training program consisting of moderate- to high-intensity intermittent exercise has no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance.”
What does this mean? The average person who exercises to stay in shape and be healthy does not need to add hypoxia training to their workouts, because it doesn’t really have any benefits to your fitness performance. Why buy something that costs between $30-$100 if you simply don’t need it?
Another study (2001) concluded that when done correctly, intermittent hypoxia training has been shown to increases red blood cell count and aerobic capacity. Here, intermittent was defined as “5-7 minutes of steady or progressive hypoxia, interrupted by equal periods of recovery.”
So, wait. Who trains the trainer about how to effectively and safely conduct and supervise hypoxic training?
Close to nobody!
After conducting a preliminary web search, I only found a “Hypoxia and Hypoxic Training for High Performance” certification course conducted in Ireland.
Other than that, I found a few airlines that conduct employee training sessions about hypoxia altitude conditions for their flight staff–not the type of training we are talking about…
Your best bet is to read the user’s manual, consult your M.D., pray, and tell someone when you are using it (just in case you pass out from doing too much all at once).
One of the master trainers for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Karl Sterling, provides some very helpful firsthand feedback about wearing and using a hypoxic training mask (HTM).
In a nutshell, here are the pros and cons of using HTMs.
- Add variation to your workouts
- Helps you focus on your breathing during exercise
- Become more efficient using oxygen and increase performance
- Look cool at the gym
- Cost ($30-$100)
- One more thing to carry in your gym bag
- Minimal experts available to teach you how to safely train with a hypoxic training mask
- Limited research
- Look creepy at the gym
Google scholar search results for “hypoxic training benefits.”
Hingerhofer-Szalkay H. (2010, Jan.). Intermittent hypoxic training risks versus benefits. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(2), 417. doi 10.1007/s00421-009-1274-4
Roberts, A. (n.d.) The truth about hypoxic training and oxygen reducing masks.
Walther, J. (2015). Can a hypoxic training mask improve performance? National Association of Sports Medicine.
Shi, B. Watanabe, T., Shin, S., Yabumoto, T., Takemura, M., & Matsuoka, T. (2014, Jan.) Effect of hypoxic training on inflammatory and metabolic risk factors: a crossover study in healthy subjects. doi 10.1002/phy2.198
This infamously happens when I train one of my clients. Recently, my client sent me a few articles about what she believes is happening to her sinuses when she performs various exercises. And of course, I looked a bit more into it. Here is what I found.
What Is It?
It’s called exercise-induced rhinitis (EIR). The root word is rhino, meaning nose, and the suffix, itis, meaning inflammation. In other words, exercising can inflame your nose.
What are the Symptoms?
When you stop to think about it, it makes sense to experience rhinitis when performing physical activity. Increased blood flow and oxygen to your nasal passages may negatively impact your sinuses and cause airborne irritants such as mold and pollen to get into your system and result in congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchiness, and watery eyes. Basically, EIR is annoying and you should add tissues to your list of essential items to bring to your workouts!
What Does the Research Say?
A 2006 research study examined EIR in adults “with and without nasal allergy who exercise regularly to determine the prevalence and nature of nasal symptoms induced by indoor exercise.”
Forty percent of participants indicated that indoor EIR negatively impacted physical activity. This more frequently occurred in individuals with nasal allergies. Likewise, outdoor EIR occurred in 56.1% of the total population–with participants with nasal allergies reporting more rhinitis (71.6% vs. 41%).
The study concluded that EIR “commonly occurs in athletes regardless of underlying nasal allergy.”
What does this mean? Well, if you already have nasal allergies, you are more likely to experience EIR compared to folks who do not already have nasal allergies. However, EIR is fair game to all of us.
Causes of EIR
There is limited research about the causes of EIR. Your guess is as good as mine and the next researcher. Check out with Livestrong.com writer, Matthew Lee, found out about the causes of EIR.
How to Manage EIR
In a nutshell, the most natural and drug free way to manage EIR is to carry a small pack of tissues during your workouts. However, some folks may want or need to take antihistamines. (Silvers, 1992)
Whatever you do, do NOT let a runny nose hold you back from your BEST workout! Pack some tissues in a sweat proof container and get to it! Happy training!
Enjoy this 45ish minute interval ride on-your-own at the gym. This ride requires an indoor bike with a cycle machine that shows your RPM speed. Otherwise, you need a metronome to help you gauge your cadence OR you can go old school and count the number of times your pedal completes a full rotation over a duration of 10 seconds.
70 RPM 11-12 rotations
80 RPM 13-14 rotations
90 RPM 15 rotations
100 RPM 16-17 rotations
110 RPM 18-19 rotations
0:00-3:00 | Seated Flat | 80-95RPM | Warm-Up. Gradually increase cadence. RPE 3.
3:00-5:00 | Seated Flat | 80 RPM | Stay disciplined at this cadence with light resistance. Continuation of your warm-up. RPE 3.
5:00-7:00 | Standing Flat | 70 RPM | Add enough resistance to support your weight out of the saddle. Come up to Hand Position #2. RPE 4.
7:00-9:30 | Jumps | 70 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb (small incline) in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will elevate to 6 because HR will increase!
9:30-13:00 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!
13:00-15:00 | Seated Flat | 90 RPM |
15:00-17:00 | Standing Flat | 80-90 RPM | RPE 4.
17:00-18:30 | Jumps | 90 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position 2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position 2.
18:30-21:30 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!
21:30-23:30 | Seated Flat | 100 RPM
23:30-25:30 | Standing Flat | 90-100 RPM
25:30-27:00 | Jumps | 100 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!
27:00-30:00 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!
30:00-31:30| Seated Flat | 95-110 RPM | Option to ride at lower end of range to maintain steady cadence.
31:30-33:30 | Standing Flat | 100-110 RPM
33:30-35:00 | Jumps | 100-110 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will rise to 7-8 due to jumps!
35:00-36:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover.
36:00-37:00 | Jumps | 80-100 RPM | Slightly add resistance. RPE 4. Complete 4 jumps up into Standing Flat in HP#2 and back down to Seated Flat in HP#2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!
37:00-38:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover.
38:00-39:00 | Jumps | 80-100 RPM | Slightly add resistance. RPE 4. Complete 4 jumps up into Standing Flat in HP#2 and back down to Seated Flat in HP#2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!
39:00-40:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Slow, deep, intentional breathing! RPE 3.
40:00-43:00 | Seated Flat | 80 RPM | Cool-down. RPE 3.
Calf, Quad, Hamstring, Hip Flexor, Shoulders, Back, Neck…
The Washington Mystics (10-6) led by as many as 24 points and the Seattle Storm (5-14) were never able to recover from such a huge deficit during yesterday’s matinee game. The ‘Stics won 87-74 and slide into second place in the Eastern Conference. After the game, I caught up with the game’s leading scorer, Ivory Latta (20 points, 2 assists), to chat a little bit about her upcoming basketball academy in Reston, Virginia.
This is not Ivory’s first time doing her academy.
I did it in Atlanta and it was a great success, but this is my first time doing it here in D.C. I want it to be a continuous thing. [There are] a lot of girls out there that need to hear a good message they can take going into the school year so they can have their focus and be ready for their season.
As with any camp, there will be plenty of basketballs, a gym, coaches, whistles, several drills, and the squeaky sound of sneakers on the court.
It’s a skills camp. We need to get back to the fundamentals of things. You’re going to come out there and enjoy yourself and have fun, but at the same time you’re going to learn a lot of things. I’m going to put you through some college drills. You will be put through some WNBA drills.
But what will make Ivory’s Academy unique? What should campers and parents expect during the day?
Ivory Latta further breaks it down for us.
My main thing is to also have a segment of my camp where you understand it’s more to basketball. Me, being a college coach for two years, that’s my opportunity to share what I know the college coaches are looking for. My crew will be able to talk to you about social media–the things that you need to watch out for but not to put on social media because College coaches have that one person that’s looking. That’s a big thing of recruiting kids.
College coaches regularly monitor social media accounts of potential high school recruits and have often used the not-so-smart word choice in a recruit’s 140 character post on Twitter s as grounds to cease individual recruiting efforts.
Ivory further explained.
It’s not your ordinary camp because there are a lot of things I want to touch on. Kids need to [also] really take care of their money.
Financial literacy is a big topic for anyone and is especially important for athletes who may experience an influx of financial resources. In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players go bankrupt within two years of ending their playing careers and 60% of NBA players are scraping to make financial ends meet within five years of retiring from the league.
This camp is about learning and finessing both basketball and life skills.
I wish you could have seen the big grin on Ivory’s face as she spoke about her upcoming academy. She is super excited about local girls’ participation in her first Academy held in northern Virginia. It is bound to be a huge success!
You’re going to go through some college drills. You’re going to go through some WNBA drills. You’re going to have a good time. You’re going to learn. And all I ask of the campers is to come and bring a lot of energy.
Ivory Latta Academy
Saturday, August 15, 2015
(girls ages 8 – 16 years old)
YMCA – Reston
12196 Sunset Hills Rd.
Reston, VA 20190
Learn more and register at http://www.ivorylatta.com.
Ivory Latta is a University of North Carolina alumna and Washington Mystics point guard currently playing in her ninth WNBA season. This season she averages 11.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game. She shoots 88% from the free throw line (12th overall in the WNBA), 38% from three-point land (10th overall in the WNBA), and 40% from the field. The Mystics travel to Texas to play the San Antonio Stars (5-14) on Friday, July 31 at 8:00pm ET. The game will be shown on WNBA Live Access.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t workout without your music. It seems like going to the store and purchasing a music CD is becoming more and more outdated. (sigh) For the record, I do still purchase CDs.
Music downloads have become the primary way we purchase our favorite tunes. And on that note, this week I wanted to share a few free-ish online music download websites.
Starbucks: Get more than coffee! Look near the cash register or the little table underneath of the community bulletin board. You should find a little wallet sized card that has a free music or phone application download. I don’t know how often Starburcks replaces these cards with new music downloads, but it’s completely FREE!
iTunes: Every Tuesday, iTunes offers FREE music downloads. Go to the iTunes Store and scroll down until you see a light blue box on the left that says, “Free on iTunes.” Click on this and boom! Free music! It’s usually two tracks from any genre you can think off. I’ve scored some great songs this way.
Free Music Archive: This is quite the eclectic musical find. Click on any genre and have fun listening to some cool music selections. You can immediately download to your computer and save on your favorite listening device!
Amazon MP3’s Downloads: There are all type of free downloads here. Admittedly, you have to work a little bit to find what your music interests, but it’s FREE!
Friends & Family: This should be a no brainer. Ask friends and family if they have any CDs they no longer want. Tell them you would be happy to take them off their hands.
Local Library: This is another resource people sleep on. Did you know local libraries allow you to check-out music, movies, video games, and more absolutely amazing resources? Why not go to the library to preview a variety of CDs prior to making a future purchase?
Spotify: In order to have full control over your music and playlists, you must purchase this app. However, there are many benefits to streaming FREE music using the FREE version.
Pandora: Same thing as Spotify. Commercials get on my last nerve with Pandora music streaming, but it’s FREE!
iTunes Radio: Same thing as Spotify and Pandora. Go to the iTunes Store and scroll down on the right until you see, “iTunes Radio.”
mp3Skull.com: This is a searchable database of all types of music. All you need to do is type in the name of the artist or song and it will pop up if it’s in the database. Be mindful of the Copyright Statement.
For the record, I do not condone music piracy. Please support talented musicians and vocalists. In the words of Spike Lee, “Do the right thing!”
Picture yourself in a group fitness class or on the training floor at your local gym. What do you see? Let me tell you what I see…sweat dripping, yelling or grunting with little starbursts of saliva escaping the mouth, water bottles being quickly picked up, sipped (and often slightly spilled) and tossed back down, the occasional sneeze or cough into a hand followed by grabbing a dumbbell, holding onto handle bars in cycling class, and holding child’s pose face down on a yoga mat that may have been sweated, coughed, or sneezed upon during the previous class.
All of these fluids—sweat, saliva, mucus—that trickle out of body are considered droplets. And guess what?
No need to panic. Let’s just look a little closer at what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically says about droplets and the transmission of infectious diseases, Ebola in particular.
Don’t freak out. All we need to do is what we should have already been doing in the first place.
- Wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose.
- Regularly disinfect surfaces.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
See full detailed list of recommendations on the CDC website.
Here are a 6 tips to minimize your risk for Ebola and other viruses at the gym.
- Properly wrap or cover any open wounds prior to working out.
- Dedicate time to wash your hands after your workout and before you leave the gym.
- Make sure your gym has cleaning materials (preferably disposable, single use disinfectant wipes or paper towels and disinfectant spray) and you know how to access them.
- Arrive to group exercise class a few minutes early to properly wipe down and clean any equipment.
- Clean all gym equipment prior to use (and afterwards—it’s common courtesy and proper gym etiquette).
- Avoid close contact with anyone sick.
Remember, you cannot catch Ebola from food, water, or air. (1)
Also, a person needs to be symptomatic in order to transmit the virus. And more than likely, if a person is symptomatic, exercising may be the last thing s/he feels like doing.
(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Ebola. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infections-spread-by-air-or-droplets.pdf
Related articles about Ebola and fitness:
Banks, S. (2014). Irrational Ebola fears make life difficult for Liberians in the U.S. LA Times.
Boseley, S. (2014, October 13). How to avoid being infected with Ebola. The Guardian.
Kylstra, C. (2014, September 30). Questions about the Ebola virus that you’ve probably already googled this week. Women’s Health Magazine.
McNeil, Jr., D. G. (2014, October 3). Ask well: How does Ebola spread? How long can the virus survive? The New York Times.
Additional information about Ebola:
As of October 25, 2014, the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention reported the following total Ebola virus case count numbers:
- Total cases: 10141
- Laboratory-Confirmed Cases: 5692
- Total deaths: 4922
The United States, in particular, has experienced four reported, four laboratory-confirmed cases, and one death caused by the Ebola virus. Although all four Ebola cases in the U.S. were travel-associated with individuals traveling from highly impacted areas and “localized transmission” upon return, we all must take precautions to minimize transmission.
Many of us have heard the saying, “we must crawl before we walk and walk before we run.” A key word missing from this old adage is “balance.” To rephrase, we must balance our body while crawling and do the same for sitting, standing, walking, hopping, running, and any other movement or static hold exercise.
Q: “So, why do I need to do balance exercises if I’m trying to gain muscle size?”
A: Balance and stability exercises help improve body stabilization, align imbalanced muscles, and increase joint strength. And with a stabilized body, balanced muscles, and increased joint strength, your body is in an ideal position to gain muscle size.
Oftentimes, we get caught up doing common exercises that involve weight machines, free weights, and group fitness classes. But the reality is that these exercises become more effective when anchored by a solid balance training program.
What exactly do I mean by balance training program?
Dynamic balance is the “ability to move and change directions under various conditions without falling,” (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014, p. 246). Balance training develops “synergy and synchronicity of muscle firing patterns required for dynamic balance and neuromuscular efficiency,” (Clark, Sutton, & Lucett, 2014, p. 248). In other words, balance training helps our muscles move more efficiently. Thus, dynamic balance is interconnected to hypertrophy (i.e., increased muscle size) and other neuromuscular skills (e.g., speed, flexibility, endurance).
The National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) integrated performance paradigm states that force reduction and stabilization are required for force production. In other words, the ability to successfully execute dynamic balance exercises (i.e., balance training) helps us increase force production for strength exercises. Increases in strength helps us achieve hypertrophy or an increase in muscle size.
Balance training also helps correct kinetic chain imbalances; thus, improve muscle imbalances and flawed movement patterns. As a result, joint stress is relieved, neuromuscular efficiency is improved, and we are less susceptible to injury. With increased neuromuscular efficiency, we are able to maximize prime movers in strength building exercises and in turn, increase the size of muscle fibers.
Enough with the talk about balance training.
Let’s chat about a couple of BALANCE TRAINING EXERCISES.
1. Multi-planar lunge to balance: Stand with feet shoulders width apart and pointed straight ahead. Place hands on hips. Begin with a basic single leg forward lunge. Keep toes pointed forward and knees aligned with toes. Push off the front foot and maintain balance on the back leg. Repeat. Switch legs. Repeat. You can progress this exercise in different planes of motion (frontal plane, or lateral lunge; transverse plane, or turn 90 degrees). You can also add weight (e.g., weighted vest, dumbbells) to make this exercise slightly more difficult. I found a video that demonstrates this exercise.
2. Single leg Romanian dead lift: Stand with feet shoulders width apart and slightly raise one leg (the knee of the raised leg should be slightly bent). Place hands on hips, bend from the waist down and reach the hand opposite of planted foot down to touch toe. Planted leg will slightly bend. Keep spine in neutral position and try not to hunch over and round the back. Slowly come back up to starting position. Repeat. Note: if you can’t reach your toe, you can regress this exercise by reaching down to touch your shin or knee. You can make this exercise more difficult by standing on an unstable surface (i.e., balance beam, half foam roll, balance disc) and eventually adding weight (i.e., dumbbell).
For both exercises, play around with the duration of the isometric movement or the point in which you return to the starting position. For example, lunge forward for 1 second, hold the lunge for 1 second, return back to single leg balance and hold for 3 seconds. You can also play with the tempo of the concentric (acceleration or movement against the direction of resistance) and eccentric (deceleration or movement in the same direction of the resistance) movements. Have fun with it!
Feel free to ask me about other ways to progress (increase difficulty) or regress (decrease difficulty) these exercises.
Clark, M.A., Sutton, B.G., & Lucett, S.C. (Eds.) (2014). NASM essentials of personal fitness training. 4th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Kinetic chain. Retrieved from http://www.opedix.com/kinetic-health
Pink flamingo. Retrieved from http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com/cartoon-flamingo.html
Single leg deadlift woman. Retrieved from http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/abs/exercises/ab-exercises/?page=7
Millar, A.L. (2012, Feb). Improving your flexibility and balance. American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/02/02/improving-your-flexibility-and-balance
Rogers, M.E. (2012, Jan). Balance and fall prevention. American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/01/10/balance-and-fall-prevention
Zech, A., Hübscher, M., Vogt, L., Banzer, W., Hänsel, F., & Pfeifer, K. (2010). Balance training for neuromuscular control and performance enhancement: a systemic review. Journal of Athletic Training, 45(4), 392-403. Retreived from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2902034/
Recently, the internet and social media sites have become inundated by videos showcasing “trendy” cycling classes in various cities across the United States. My first reactions to witnessing these classes were disbelief and fear. Although classes may look very engaging and entertaining, I sincerely fear for the safety of each and every person in the classes — instructors included.
The video originally posted to this blog post was removed from this site; however, here’s a link to it.
Here’s a quick overview of my initial concerns about these classes. For clarity purposes, I refer to these trendy cycling classes as TCCs.
Concern #1: If you wouldn’t do it on a road bike, then it has no business being in a cycling class. Several TCCs have riders taking not one, but BOTH hands off the bike during the class. This is a big no-no. Each and every time you take one or both hands off the bike, you increase the likelihood of falling off the bike (i.e., injury). Similarly, fast cadence (pedaling) + 1 or 0 hands = a recipe for disaster. Likewise, pedaling in a standing position with one or no hands on the handle bars equates to a significant chance of injury.
Rapid, bouncy, up and down movement on the handle bars and/or saddle of the bike compromises proper form, increases strain on your back and other points along the kinetic chain, and minimizes your ability to properly target specific muscle groups during your workout.
Concern #2: Indoor cycling and our love-hate relationship with the resistance knob. In the TCC videos I watched, it looked like cyclists, including the instructor, used light resistance on the bike, regardless of cadence (i.e., speed of pedal rotations). I’m pretty sure there is a resistance knob on the bikes, but it looks like there was one pace–FAST–in these classes. It’s possible that video footage was only taken of the more exciting, fast-paced parts of the classes. It’s also possible that these classes are primarily fast paced, or high cadence classes. A good group cycling class will use the resistance knob to regulate heart rate, increase strength, build endurance, and promote active muscle recovery.
Concern #3: A word about brands and trademarks. The majority, if not all, group cycling certifications are trademarked. In other words, a person who is not a certified Spinning(R) instructor cannot lead a cycling class named, “Spinning.” It doesn’t hurt to ask TCC instructors about their cycling certifications, if any. Keep in mind, not all gyms require group fitness instructors to hold certifications.
Most popular and accepted certifications:
Mad Dogg Athletics Spinning
Les Mills RPM
Concern #4: Is there a method to the madness of TCC structure? Are instructors monitoring heart rates or rate of perceived exertion? Is there intentional progression and regression of speed, resistance, and bike position? Are instructors correcting your form on the bike? Are TCCs choreographed performances on a bike with the latest and greatest music? Is it anchored by the philosophy, “if I sweat it’s a good workout?” Just because you sweat and the instructor played music that got you hyped, doesn’t necessarily mean you had a safe and effective workout.
Concern #5: There is liability if someone gets injured during a TCC. Personal trainers and oftentimes group fitness instructors are required to have liability insurance. On occasion, gyms cover their trainers and fitness instructors with an umbrella liability insurance plan. But what about the TCCs? Are the instructors insured? Do the owners of the facility provide liability insurance to all of their trainers and group fitness instructors? I hate to say it, but it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt in a TCC (if it hasn’t already happened). Proceed with caution and TCC instructors, PLEASE make sure you have liability insurance.
Before I close, I would like to commend all of the TCC instructors and cycling class participants for their commitment to incorporating exercise into their lives. However, please be safe as you proceed with future group fitness classes. Safety and good body mechanics are essential!
Indoor cycling resources:
Indoor Cycling Association
Spinning (articles and research)
Les Mills RPM
Note: This blog post reflects my thoughts and opinions and are not affiliated, endorsed, or supported by any professional fitness organization.
Another TCC example