We are all guilty of that. We are all busy trying to fit a workout around the busy lifestyle so if we spend 45min in a class all we want is to be out of the door ASAP, 30sec shower and we want to be on our way.
We don’t think it’s that important. I am fine I don’t have any aches or pains. I don’t need it. What am I talking about? The ugly sisters of a workout: COOLDOWN & STRETCH.
I started using a phrase from Cuez at the end of my classes: “Now is the time to say THANK YOU to your legs for doing such a great job. Respect your body. Allow it to go back to the resting mode. Don’t just jump off the bike and go.”
Some will say that the 2 min after the class is not enough anyway. Well, maybe not but in 90% of the cases this is all stretching the people will do, so it’s better than nothing.
I used to think that I had to pack my class with the workout itself and people would be getting impatient if the warm up or cool down were too long. Now I know these two elements are so important for the quality of the class and the experience overall that I don’t compromise on these. Well sometimes. In 1% of the cases. If for some reason I get delayed.
My warm up is at least 2 songs. One sitting with increasing resistance, one with a slight incline where we practice standing up. Nice and easy hill 64-66RPM. That’s for a mixed class. If we are going into long climbs – as in over 20 min uphill – I will use at least 4 songs to gradually prepare the participants.
The cool down is usually 2 songs as well: easy ride to get the HR down in first and get off the bike in the second. Yes, there will always be those running or walking out as soon as you mention easing off. I stopped worrying about them and instead focus on the ones who do stay behind. I also recommend stretching outside of the studio using the foam rollers etc.
From time to time I mention that getting a sports massage as a great way of rewarding yourself. And I find it really strange when people think this is a waste of money or when they give me the impression that they are too tough for that with a dismissive: “Naah!”
I have a regular who is around mid 40s and plays any sport imaginable: squash, tennis, he runs, takes about 8 spin classes a week and then jumps on the trampoline with the kids. Yeah, I know. No, he works full time. He has a few bad habits when it comes to indoor cycling like freezing his upper body and sprinting with not enough resistance, that I have been trying to correct for months. I warned him that these might cause him lower back issues in the long run. And about 2 months ago the “I told you so” moment arrived. I advised him to see a physio or at least get a sports massage. Every week I would ask him how he was and every week I would hear: “No change” yet he wouldn’t go to get help.
Why is that? Maybe because he was worried he would be told to slow down? Or maybe he was worried he was going to be told: “Well, you are not exactly a spring chicken…” I also blame the culture that plagues the fitness industry of all or nothing workout: you have to be nearly sick every time the 45min is up! You gotta man up! No pain no game!
We had an interesting discussion with two of my regulars today about different instructors and the different types of classes we teach. I teach interval/all out classes once every few weeks but they are not my favourite to teach. I always feel like unless I have a group at the same experience level (not fitness, just technique, ability to stand up, understanding what a sprint is), such a class may be great for regulars but a car crash for newbies. Hence if I do it every so often and then make other classes focus on other elements giving people a chance to learn how to do it safely and efficiently, they will get better next time. If I did all out class EVERY time, when would I teach? This is again about respecting your body and conditioning it for a HIIT class.
I am currently running a TDF challenge where people earn points for the cycling classes they attend. But they get extra points for attending as many Pilates, Yoga or Bodybalance classes too. When I ran my 4 months challenge at the end of last year, the mission was to complete 50 classes in 120 days. One of the options was to do 25 cycling classes and 25 any other classes on the timetable. Many people tried yoga and Pilates and actually stuck with these after the challenge was over. They quickly realise the benefits.
I created a Cycling Clinic workshops which I delivered last year too. These included a section of stretching for cyclists. I wish we could all go out after each class and do 15 min stretch. But if you lack ideas, there is a great book out there called Yoga for Cyclists by Lexie Williamson. I took a workshop with this lady before the book was released. I really enjoyed it and the book is a great resource.
So guys, please listen to the Queen of Soul. She may not have had cycling (definitely not Soul Cycle) in mind when she was singing this but it’s a fitting closing to this post 🙂