Cycle Excel Blog

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Donna Ellerton

Donna Ellerton


For twenty years Donna Ellerton has inspired, educated and motivated fitness instructors to become their own unique, personal best. Donna has integrated her extensive knowledge as a cycling expert, international presenter, writer and business owner and created the worlds first online cycling portal, Cycle Excel. As an active master trainer for Cycle Excel she offers 3 levels of courses from beginner to advanced nationally offering new training ideas, CEC’s and PDP’s. All courses are registered with Fitness Australia and Physical activity Australia. The website offers regular updates and training information for instructors around the world.

Posted by on in Cycle Excel Blog

Exciting news! New Cycle studios opening in 2014.
Watch this space!
The cycle studios offer a unique approach to Indoor cycling, with beautiful facilities and exceptional, expert staff.
The trend is to focus on real riding and use music that allows the rider to get a mind body connection and the euphoric feel you get from the right type of training.
The cycle studios focuses on employing 'the right people' which doesn't necessarily mean they are the traditional fitness instructor you may meet at your local gym. Instead you will be trained by a professional who has the skills and knowledge to help you achieve your goals while having a gold class experience.

Cycle Excel is now specialising in developing coaching programs for studios. We have the experience and knowledge to train and develop enthusiastic individuals to become world class studio cycle coaches.  We have online and face to face courses available and we also have a new signature series available to studios interested in developing their own unique brand.

For more information on our signature series please contact us;

For information on our online courses, click here

For information on our face to face courses click here

Enjoy cycling

Cycle Excel Team



Hits: 3180

Posted by on in Cycle Excel Blog

As the New Year kicks in- you may find beginners in your class attempting to start out 2014 with a fresh new weight loss plan or fitness regime.

I'd like to share a recent wonderful experience I had of seeing, first-hand two first time cyclists with such goals and aspirations in mind- who stepped into a 45 minute indoor cycle class

This experience highlighted the need for a reminder of how a first timer may view the cycle environment. Sure the topic 'handling beginners' is covered in  the Cycle Excel course but perhaps with the recent trend in Hiit and insanity workouts it would be a good idea to revisit this important topic with some special examples of how our 'cycle Virgin' needs support and understanding and to feel welcome  into our mainstream classes.

Meet the first timers

First timer one, an overweight middle-aged woman carrying an extra 25 kg. I could see her scanning the room eyeing up the bright lycra clad cyclists and instructor looking intimidated. She actually asked  if she could 'do this'. Her comment was "I am very unfit, but

I must lose weight ,this is my last chance. 'How hard is this class, will I pass out? She looked very worried.

The second first-timer was an catholic nun from the US visiting Australia, she had never heard of indoor cycling and came into the room because she saw a crowd of people and was wondering what was going on. She was trying the gym for the first time and saw the bike with fresh eyes. Her comment was "how do these bikes work". She glanced around the room and said "everyone looks incredibly fit" I don't think I will be good enough for you. She had never heard of  indoor cycling  and had no idea what it was about.

Often as leaders or fitness enthusiasts we forget  what it is like to start at the very beginning. As a cycle coach you already have an intrinsic style of leadership,  confidence and some natural ability and it may be difficult to understand the beginner who  has no trust in their ability and is a little fearful. 

I have often heard the comment from the beginner walking past the cycle studio that they believe they must be fit before attending a cycle class. This is the general consensus, that cycle classes are too hard and too fast for the first timers. It is true we have a global  obesity problem - and perhaps most fitness studios are just catering to the already conditioned participant as the gap widens between the fit and the 'unfit'.

Sure we could  provide a basic introductory cycle class, perhaps called training wheels, cycle start, or beginners cycle but it can be difficult to find the perfect time slot to suits everyone. Indoor cycling is adjustable!  I like to think of indoor cycling as being a completely fluid program that is suitable for most, so lets consider some steps on how to include the cycle beginner into our mainstream classes.

Take the pressure off. Inform them of the importance of an achievable ride. As the cycle virgin needs to teach their body to burn fat, it is important that they work below 80% of their heart rate maximum. Explained in simple terms, imagine a scale of one to 10, 10 being an maximum effort, it is important that they work at a maximum level five out of ten. So in actual fact, they should feel like they can do another ride afterwards. This takes the pressure off and allows them to feel a sense of support and achievement. Ask them to modify the ride today and for the next 6 weeks.

Explain the ride and speed and explain all the equipment. For example we will cycle on flats and hills. You may stay seated the entire time, you do not need to stand up and our cycling range is anywhere between 60 to 100 RPM you may stay at a speed of 60 to 70 rpm if you choose to for the entire class.

Feel free to sit upright occasionally and roll-out your shoulders. Remember that everyone will be focused on their own ride and no one will be looking at any other cyclists during the class.

Positive reinforcement  with eye contact throughout the class and a congratulations at the end.

So how did they go?

The two beginners both cycled around 60-70 RPM for the entire class, worked at around 70-75% HRMAX and completed the entire class. both had a positive experience and have made a commitment to return.

For information on our online courses, click here

For information on our face to face courses click here

Enjoy cycling

Cycle Excel Team

Hits: 3547

How do we core connect on an Indoor bike, a spin bike?

Learn how. Get a free core instruction video and a free sample of the Cycle Excel online training. Go to  fill in your name and email and we will send you the link to gain instant access!

I have seen new moves created for indoor cycling that have little or no training benefit.  For example locking the upper body or balancing on the bike to isolate a body part. These new moves force the body in to an unnatural riding position placing load on ligaments and tendons and also compromise the lower back and the knees.  There have even been claims made that using unnatural riding positions will switch on the core. Locking the upper body in a fixed position will not switch on the core, there is little or no core work involved in locking the upper body, shifting the hips backwards, taking one arm behind the back or standing upright and balancing on the bike. Modifications to the four cycle exercises which are seated flat, standing on the flat, seated hill and standing hill can potentially cause more harm than good. So let's go through how to activate the core step-by-step so we can core connect properly and have a core focus in our cycle classes.

The first question we need to ask is what is the core?

In actual fact it's your whole trunk including the shoulder girdle and the pelvic girdle. In fitness a lot of people think that the core is located just between our ribs and our hips and think that when we brace the rectus abdominis (the six pack) we are switching on the core. Bracing the abs, locking the global muscles in a fixed position will not switch on the core, so to keep it simple lets imagine we have an inner unit and an outer unit. The inner unit is the core.

The Inner unit includes the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominis. 


The transversus abdominis which is the deepest layer and goes around transversely. That does sit between the bottom of our ribs and the top of the hips and that's why a lot of people think that bracing this area is switching on the core. When you connect your transversus abdominis the fibres wrap around transversely and our back is supported

Why do we need to activate the core?

When core is connected the fibres support our organs, stabilise our pelvis and lower back

How do we core connect on an indoor bike?

To watch our free core connection instruction video, please go to 

1. Sit on the centre of the saddle, add enough resistance so the pedals feel sticky.

2. A gentle C curve of the spine while seated on the bike, relax the upper body, relax the grip of the hands

3. Imagine a balloon sitting low between the hips, now pop the balloon, the stomach gently deflates but it doesn't harden.

4. Start cycling, lift the knees and keep a lightness in the upper body. 


For information on our online courses, click here

For information on our face to face courses click here

Learn how. Get a free core instruction video and a free sample of the Cycle Excel online training. Go to 7 DAY FREE TRIAL fill in your name and email and we will send you the link to gain instant access!


Enjoy cycling

Cycle Excel Team




Hits: 5993
Posted by on in Cycle Excel Blog

It is brilliant to get feedback on gears and watts during our cycle classes but one common remark is that there are inconsistencies between one bike’s computer and the next when using Keiser and Schwinn. So how do we work with the computers if they are not 100% accurate?

Most Indoor fixed gear bikes that display gears and watts are not 100% accurate and therefore recommending a gear, one size fits all approach won’t meet you or your cyclists expectations. All fixed gear bikes with computers that display Watts / Gears are calibrated differently even though they claim to be factory set. This means that each bike will have a different feel using a nominated gear. The settings on fixed gear bikes lose calibration, so enforcing a particular gear or watt will not ensure the cyclists are working in the correct zone. Instead of enforcing a gear or wattage, offer a range of watts and gears to work within or ask cyclists to set a base gear/watt range kinesthetically using a perceived exertion chart. Perceived exertion charts offer a number, a description and a kinesthetic description. There are many available, the trick is to use one that is simple and easy to understand. A chart displaying colour is very effective. Perceived exertion charts can be used if heart rate monitors and power meters are not available but the best result is when RPE charts are used in conjunction with biofeedback, gears and watts.


It is also likely that cyclists attending classes will be using a different bike each time, which will be calibrated differently. We wouldn’t want to encourage the same person using the same bike each class as this may create a competition to race to the best bike. “This is my bike” If the feedback we are getting is inaccurate then it is reasonable to suggest we should not rely on the computers 100%, instead use the biofeedback after we have set a base level kinesthetically. 

Below are some tips and suggestions to work around the inconsistencies.

1. The Cadence display. The Cadence displayed will be correct as this is a simple process of counting the revolutions per minute but if you are not sure do a manual cadence count. Put your hand above your knee and count the amount of times the hand hits the knee over ten seconds. 60 RPM is ten counts over ten seconds. 90 RPM is 15 counts over ten seconds.


2. The Gear display. A one size fits all will not meet your expectations. If the gear that is displayed is not accurate then why enforce it? Do not enforce a gear, instead give a range of gears to work within. These bikes will be calibrated differently, so enforcing a gear will not mean that the cyclist attending your training session will be using the same amount of resistance as the person sitting beside them. Use a kinesthetic teaching technique to find the base gear first. “As all the bikes are calibrated differently, we need to find our base level gear and watts reading on our bikes. Cycle between 70 - 90 RPM and cover the computer. Now imagine a scale of 1-10! 10 is a maximum effort where it is difficult to breathe. Now add adequate resistance and continue cycling between 70-90 RPM so that you feel that you are at a level 3-4. Now that you have established your base level, the blue Zone have a look at your watts and your gear display. This is your starting point, your blue zone. We have four zones to work within, the next level is the green zone, followed by the yellow zone and finally the Red zone. The red Zone is close to a maximum effort.”The goal today is to stay above the blue zone”


3. The Watts display. This is meant to display your power output. Once again the watt meters on both the Schwinn and Keiser bikes will vary from one bike to the next. To get the most out of the watt meter ask the cyclists to find their base coaching kinesthetic cues and then focus on increasing the watts during the class and perform a watt ladder.  Use a teaching technique to guide the cyclists to find their base level. First establish the blue zone, then add 5-10 watts to start moving into the Green zone.  A cue for watts could be; “You have now established your blue zone watts, we will be working within four zones today, Zone 1, 2, 3 and 4. You can now move up from your established base blue zone effort”. You, the instructor and trainer can now say cues such as “add 10 - 20 watts from your base. Add 20 watts from your base for 30 seconds, GO!

 “Add 10 watts from your base every minute”  “cycle at 90 RPM, Keep adding 10 watts every minute until you can’t maintain the speed any longer”. 

You could also ask your cyclists to establish a gear watt level for the green zone by finding a level 5 out of 10. The  Kinesthetic cue; Moderate, talk in short sentences. 

Currently the Indoor bike with the most accurate power meter is the Watt bike. 



Find your Blue Zone base with perceived exertion and work from there.

4. Give a range of gears and watts to work within. Everyone wants to feel successful. Not everyone wants to work in the red zone and there will be cyclists who are training for health and wellness not just for speed and power, so offering a range of options and zones is more likely to suit most.



Summary. When teaching on a bike with a fixed gear with inaccurate computer displays, a helpful teaching tip is to ask participants to add a good amount of load prior to commencing the warm up without acknowledging the computer. Add load so the pedals feel ‘sticky’. ‘Sticky pedals’ is your starting point.  Ask the Cyclist to keep the speed between 70 - 90 RPM and cover the gear/watt reading. Let them find their base level kinesthetically first and use a perceived exertion scale. Ask your cyclists to imagine a scale of exertion between 1-10, and to choose a gear that would represent a perceived exertion level of 3 or 4. This is your starting gear! Do the same with the watt reading. The base level is your starting point and do not go below this number. A watt ladder can be performed from the base level ascertained. For example imagine your base level was 150 watts, it would be a simple manner of increasing the watts by 5 or 10 or more at suggested time intervals. Start with a Kinaesthetic cue to find the base level and work from there. 

For information on our online courses, click here

For information on our face to face courses click here

Get a free 7 DAY TRIAL and a free sample of the Cycle Excel online training. Go to  fill in your name and email and we will send you the link to gain instant access!

Hits: 8286

Posted by on in Cycle Excel Blog



There are a couple of different methods of spin bike set up.

To keep it simple we will provide you with a quick express set up, followed by a more comprehensive step by step procedure.

A thorough bike set up is available in our online level 1 course 

Go to Cycle excel level 1 Online 

Cycle Excel   Quick Bike Set up

Bike set up, Step 1.

Stand next to the bike. Adjust seat post height to just below the level of the hips


Bike set up, Step 2. 

2. Sit on the centre of the saddle and place foot in shoe cage. There should be a slight bend in the knee when the leg is at  6 o’clock position.                 

    If there is no bend in the knee, drop the seat post height down.


Bike set up, Step 3.

3.  Sit on the centre of the saddle and place the pedals parallel to the floor. The tip of the knee should be in line with the centre of the pedal (the centre of the ball of the foot). If the knee is over the toes, slide the saddle backward. Handle bar height is the same height as the seat.


Bike set up, Step 4.

4. Sit on the centre of the saddle with a gentle C curve and a relaxed upper body.



A more comprehensive step by step guide


A. Stand next to the bike, adjust seat height to just below the level of the hips.This step is your starting point and is not 100% accurate as it depends on bike brand, it is very likely you will need to adjust the seat post height after checking the angle of the knee in step C .

The first step is purely a guide to get on the bike. At this stage it is a reference point and will have to be modified to suit the rider. The seat post height needs to be checked with the following guidelines:

B. Sit on the centre of the saddle, sit upright and place the heel of the foot on the back of the pedal, the leg should be fully extended with the hips level. Knees are not locked. There is no bend in the knee at this stage.


C. Seated on the centre of the saddle, sitting upright or with the hands on the handle bars directly in front, place the foot in the shoe cage. The seat post height is correct when the knee has a slight bend, ensuring the foot is flat and in the six o’clock position.


D. Start rolling the legs around and check that the hips are not rocking when pedalling and the knees are not locking out. There should be a slight bend in the knee all the way around the pedal stroke.


A. To set the fore and aft position, firstly sit on the centre of the saddle either sitting upright or placing the hand on the handle bars directly in front. Using the clock face analogy, place one foot at three o’clock and one at nine o’clock. Keep the foot flat, do not drop the heel downwards. In this position the knee is in line with the centre of the ball of the foot. If the knee is too far forward, then slide the fore and aft position backwards. If the knee is too far back, slide the fore and aft position forwards.





A. Set the handle bar height so it is in line with the saddle.

Quick tip....A beginner may feel more comfortable with the handle bars raised above saddle height and a professional cyclist will adjust them slightly lower than the saddle.



A. Some indoor bikes have a handle bar fore and aft position which slides forwards and backwards. Adjust the fore and aft position so there is a slight bend in the elbows when the heel of the hands are resting on the handle bars



Sit on the centre of the saddle, don’t shift the hips to the back of the saddle. 

The spine is in a gentle C curve, the abdominals are not braced or hardened, instead imagine there is a balloon sitting low between the hips. Gently deflate the balloon and relax the upper trapezius and the upper body. Try not grip the handle bars tightly. 


CYCLE EXCEL Level 1 Online contains a comprehensive bike set up. Go to Cycle excel level 1 Online 

For information on our online courses, click here

For information on our face to face courses click here

Get a free 7 DAY TRIAL a free sample of the Cycle Excel online training. Go to  gain instant access!

Hits: 9239

Indoor cycling & cycling found to decrease the systems of Parkinson's disease.
This puts a new spin on helping people with parkinson's disease, please share.

Cycle Excel teach anyone how to develop indoor cycling training programs, whether it is for teaching a spin class or for the home gym.

We have three levels available level 1, 2 & 3. Level 1 foundation, level 1 & 2 foundation & intermediate training templates, level 1,2 & 3 foundation & intermediate - advanced training templates.

CLICK HERE for information on our courses

Hits: 2948
Cron Job Starts