The group cycling phenomenon took the gyms by storm in the early 1990s. The concept was introduced by Johnny G (Goldberg) who used to hold group cycling classes in the garage of his home. The combination of cycling, music and mental visualization became known as "spinning" and provided outdoor cyclists with a fantastic indoor training option during non-permissible weather conditions. The craze caught onto trendy fitness goers creating a whole new stroke in their strife towards getting into shape. Before beginning it's important to understand proper bike set up and riding positioning to prevent unwanted injuries and to maximize results.
Guidelines for bike setup and fitting
Prior to using the bike, participants must properly position themselves in a comfortable alignment to minimize stress on the musculoskeletal system, and maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
• Saddle Height
1. Hip level when standing next to the bike
2. Knee angle 10-30 degrees with pedal at 6'oclock position
• Forward or Backward Position of Saddle
1. With the feet parallel to the floor in the 3 and 9'oclock position, you should be able to see your shoe laces
• Handlebar Height
1. Highest position for new riders
1. Ball of foot in center of pedal
2. Toe clip and strap snug but not tight
Tips for a safe and effective ride
• Sit with a long spine and in a neutral position. Never slouch forward resting on to handlebars with elbows.
• Shoulders should be back and square
• Keep your eye gaze forward lifting the crown of the head upwards
• Wrists should be straight
• Slight bend in the elbows
• Keep feet parallel to the floor
• Pelvis should stay strong and active in the neutral position. Never bounce on the seat while pedaling.
• Knees should have a slight bend and never locked
• Weight should be kept over the saddle in the lift position. Avoid weight bearing with hands and wrists.
• Keep upper body relaxed
If it's your first time in group cycling class let the instructor know. You don't have to complete a whole class your first time. If you do leave before the class has ended give yourself plenty of time to cool down. Your instructor can advise you on this.
Drink a glass of water before the class and finish a bottle of water for its duration.
Cycling shorts with padding or the use of a gel seat can make for a more comfortable ride. Wear clothing that is evaporative. Be prepared to sweat away water and unwanted calories.
Research Supported Caloric Expenditure
In a typical 45 minute group cycling class the research indicates that the average caloric expenditure is 346 calories for women and 527 calories for men.
(Stavig, A, P. Francis and M. Buono. Physiological response to a typical cycle Reebok studio cycling session. ACSM Health and Fitness Journal, 1998.)
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Farhan Dhalla is a Registered Physiotherapist, International Presenter and Reebok Master Trainer. Visit farhandhalla.com for more information.