We believe that lives will be enriched in multiple ways when indoor riders discover cycling outside, and outdoor riders experience the fun and performance improvements that good indoor group cycling can deliver. We believe that the sport of cycling - in all its forms - benefits from higher participation. Likewise, we believe that fitness facilities that offer indoor cycling - in all its representations - will benefit from higher participation.
This quest to “cross pollinate” individuals from each environment is based more on a vision for the future; of how good it could be, rather than the current state of affairs that frankly does not lend itself to the success of this mission.
The average committed cyclist will often ride in ridiculously cold and even dangerous weather primarily to avoid the even worse drudgery of riding inside, and many others just take off the entire winter season only to suffer horribly every spring, dragging their body over road and single track day after day, week after agonizing week until their fitness level improves. The average Spinning® enthusiast never experiences the freedom and joy of riding in the open air, believing they either can’t or will immediately get hit by a car in their first 10 minutes on the blacktop, or do a header with their first trail obstacle. And there are innumerable shades of similar invalid assumptions, and poor information in between those two extremes.
On the contrary, there are a lucky few who have already discovered what a beautiful combination these two environments make. The mutual benefits have been so profound and so unmistakable, that there is an unstoppable desire to share this knowledge and experience with others. These are the members of Cycling Fusion.
Consequently, we need everyone’s help from both the indoors as well as outdoor worlds, to drive folks within their circle of influence towards this unified concept. Everyone from simple riding buddies, to companies that serve the indoor and outdoor cycling industry, should play a part to make these worlds complimentary and not antagonistic.
- We see indoor cycling classes that are taught by instructors who are committed to teach in a way that advances cycling skills, works cycling muscles and improves all aspects of outdoor riding.
- We see indoor cycling instructors that refuse to teach or demonstrate techniques that are unsafe, untested, and non-applicable to riding outside
- We see indoor classes that promote training more than exercise, that provide at least one educational objective for each class, and that include fun or entertainment as an important motivation to both serious as well as casual cyclists
- We see existing indoor bikes well maintained and retrofitted to monitor cadence
- We see an industry of manufacturers that do not manufacture new bikes without minimum monitoring such as time, distance & cadence; and always with an option to purchase power or resistance indicators
- We see club philosophy and emphasis that advocate clients to wear heart rate monitors, and learn to use heart zones in all their classes
- We see indoor classes that include videos on a regular basis to enhance training and entertainment
- We see indoor classes that organize outdoor riding clubs and groups to extend their indoor friendships and camaraderie through the outdoor months
The Current Reality
- A great number of indoor cycling instructors do not, and have never, ridden a bike outside (biking as a kid doesn’t count)
- A great number of indoor instructors teach or perform moves on the bike that would never be done outside, and that may be actually unsafe in either environment
- Most indoor classes do not cater to beginners, thus making indoor cycling seemingly unreachable by most people
- Most indoor classes are taught at heart rates over the students aerobic thresholds, resulting in fitness that is one dimensional, and ill suited for endurance sports or leisure riding outside
- Too many instructors do not take time with each new person to orient them properly with their bike settings, class structure, and cycling methods when a student is brand new
- Most indoor bikes have no indicators whatsoever for the rider to use; nothing to monitor cadence, heart rate, power, etc.
- Most Indoor cycling rooms provide inadequate or completely absent air flow – the one thing riding outside provides to every rider regardless of ability or location
- Most indoor cycling facilities do not offer video of any kind
Action Steps Needed
- Nationally establish an objective and agnostic quality control program for indoor instructors, regardless of which indoor training program is used at the facility. Perhaps providing a grading system, or at least a “pass/fail” method for assessing how well vision points 1-3 above are met. Criteria would be set by a cross section of industry leaders
- Facilities should stop buying bikes that do not have training tools included
- Facilities should purchase add on training tools to retrofit existing bikes
- Facilities should invest in at least a half dozen HR monitors for trial use during class by clients, and offer a variety of monitors for sale or rent
- Facilities should install fans at a rate of at least one per every 3 riders
- Facilities should install video equipment (as little as $250 investment) for use with all types of videos, not just cycling
- Facilities should start at least one outdoor riding club, either MTB or road riding, or even rail trail riding, and conduct at least 1 ride per month during the outdoor months
- Facilities should sponsor groups for charity rides; as a way of giving back to the community, and giving their indoor riders more reasons and motivation to train
Written by Gene Nacey, Founder of Cycling Fusion and Global Ride Productions, January, 2008