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Cycle Virgins

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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



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.


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