Yesterday saw Rock the Bike founder Keith Thompson‘s – now a celebrity in his own right – assault on London indoor cycling scene. Here is an example that I think EVERYONE has seen on FB over the last year or so but just in case you have been living under a rock … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EFJvKTaOnM
I chose not to attend. Why? I have seen what he does on Youtube and I would never do these things on the bike. Off the bike? On the dance floor? Challenge me anytime! The man has moves!
Now let’s give credit where the credit is due. The guy used to be obese and through determination has transformed his life and as a consequence his body. Great achievement! His own indoor cycling instructor was so taken with his personality and how he managed to get her own class, where he was only a participant, into a full blast fun mood that she found a way to get a scholarship for him to qualify as a fitness instructor. That included indoor cycling qualification of some sort. He jumped on the opportunity and qualified. Another big brownie point goes to Keith.
Soon his classes became so popular that the gym increased their weekly number and still could not cope with the demand. However, alarm bells started ringing as his unconventional approach to indoor cycling, basically what he was doing on the bike, caused some serious concern (even though I haven’t found specific details) and Keith and the gym parted ways. I should think that nobody in that gym with any recognised cycling qualification could look at what was happening in these classes anymore and finally the management had to say enough is enough. People’s health and the high risk of long term serious injuries are more important than 45min fun here and now.
A few months ago on my FB page I wrote a review of a class that was taught at my local gym by an outside company. They were doing loads of similar moves to those Keith does. All of them considered as dangerous for your joints, not very effective and simply unsafe. Another thing they had in common with Rock the Bike was that they brought the “Party on the bike!!!” feel into the studio. I love me a party, why not? But I love my 2 knees and my back more and having had a serious surgery on my disk once, I am not willing to risk another.
I can hear you say: but people and this guy included have been taking these classes for years and they are fine! I say: give it time…
But there is also an immediate risk when doing dodgy moves on a bike. I found this review of Keith’s class online: “I am not a skilled Spin dancer. In fact, any newbies should probably learn their way around a Spin bike before taking a class with Thompson — I almost fell off and I’ve been riding for ten years!”
My first question regarding the above quote: what is a spin dancer? I am sure Spinning guys (as in the trademark) would not be happy to have the word “spin” use immediately before “dancer”.
To sum up: not everyone cycles outside, not everyone wants to ride 80miles on a weekend, not everyone wants to TRAIN when they come to indoor cycling class and I am fully aware of it. People come to unwind after a long day in the office or to get their HR up before they sit at their desks for 8 hours. We as instructors need to make sure we cater for as a wide variety of people that come into our classes as possible.
Will we be able to please everyone? No. Some of us will make their class more like outdoor cycling, others will focus mainly on HIIT workouts etc. That’s why gyms put on a variety of teachers on their timetables so people have a choice. We all have different personalities and only when we teach what we love and play the music we can really feel, our instructor skills are shining.
Nevertheless we all should have the participants’ health in mind, understand what we do and why we do it and how it is going to impact people who put their trust in us by copying our moves every week.