Curating Perfection in the Cycle Studio

Perfection! A great goal…don’t always expect to achieve it, but always aim for it in everything you do (including running your Studio Cycling class!). After seeing a few recent posts on social media, and reflecting on all the classes I’ve either led or participated in, there are many things that help contribute to Studio Cycling Perfection!

First, promote the class in advance, not just when and where…but what can your participants expect, and why should they care? How long is the ride, will there be a theme, what’s the general ride profile?

Arrive early and open the studio 10-15 minutes prior to scheduled start time. Check the temp, airflow, lighting, equipment/bike placement and general condition, intro music playing, instructor mic is charged and working, other technology is functional. Greet participants as they walk-in. Seek out newbies to offer assistance…encouragement…and set expectations for their first cycling class.

Give everyone a 2-3 minute warning, and plan to start class on time (I always use “Verizon time”, since studio clocks are seldom in sync or accurate). If you’re subbing, be sure to take extra time to introduce yourself. Offer a few PSA’s (public service announcements) about current happenings at the gym / studio…new classes on the schedule…new instructors that have joined the team…upcoming outdoor rides…other community events that might be of interest to the group.

At the scheduled start time…GET ROLLING (rare exceptions for extreme weather or other circumstances that could likely effect the majority of the class). Door(s) closed, lights turned down, music turned up! Start with an introductory 3-5 warm-up. Use this short time to set the tone, and plan for the class…reminders about making modifications as needed, focusing on individual goals, using the available technology to achieve those goals, etc. For my own benefit, as well as the entire class…remind everyone about turning on their fitness trackers and/or the on-board monitor. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER…at the end of class, I need to see the key metrics of my performance: calorie burn, heart rate, distance traveled, power/watts data, and all the other min/max/avg data available…always hopeful for a PR.

For the time between warm-up and cool-down periods…plan to incorporate at least 4 or 5 (if not all) of the 9 “Spinning movements: 1-seated flat, 2-standing flat, 3-seated hill, 4-standing hill, 5-seated sprints, 6-standing sprints, 7-running on a hill, 8-jump on flat, and 9-jumps on a hill. Coordinate the style and tempo of the music to match the planned movement. Add in specialized drills and use music that works better in the background…tabata-style sprint intervals (2:1 work to recovery ratio), timed alternation between seated / standing positions, and other resistance / speed drills. Another favorite variation is Rolling Hills. Some very effective ride profiles group several hills and flat stretches together, while other profiles are more evenly balanced…alternating from hills to flats, speed work to strength work. Keeping your focus on a rhythm-based ride is a great goal and very effective for most classes (otherwise why bother with a playlist)!

If there are ceiling/wall fans in the studio, be sure they are on by the 3rd or 4th track into the workout. This gives you a chance to get off the bike for a minute and also check-in, one-by-one with any newbies or others that might need some direct encouragement.

Again, use the music to support your ride profile and fitness goals. Mix up the music so that you have something for everyone (easier said than done!). Consider these variations: heavy instrumentals or vocals, variety of genres, mix of male/female vocals, tracks with motivational lyrics, “trance” tracks for strong visualization segments, new & current music, fun pop favorites, edgy alternative tunes, and the classics from 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Depending on the setting, watch out for explicit or potentially offensive lyrics. Explicit lyric rides are a thing at many studios and can be a great way to mix up the offering…just be sure that everyone has a heads up before the f-bombs drop.

Consider breaking the class down into 3 or 4 segments, and creating an overall theme of momentum-building that drives everyone to a powerful final segment of the ride, like the steepest hill climb or most intense sprints to the finish. To help guide and keep participants on track, offer reminders about proper form (from head to toe) and technique, relative cadence and resistance settings (always offer a range rather than a single number), objectives for the current segment of the ride, and what to expect in the next 3-8 minutes of the class. Again…remind about making individual modifications as needed. Consider hopping off the bike another time to quickly run through the entire class…even checking numbers on their monitors (no judgements, just encouragement). Also offer helpful and guiding cues, motivation, and measured energy / enthusiasm (consider the audience and know that you can be TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE for some!).

In the final 3-5 minutes of the class…a great cool down track (Khalid has some great closing tracks!) paired with some upper and lower body stretches. Turn the music down, fans off, and lights up. Again, offer modifications on stretches and cool down methods. Offer some helpful reminders before everyone leaves the studio…clean up, schedule changes, upcoming Theme Rides, etc.

So whether or not you achieve PERFECTION, remember the ultimate goals for your class: encourage, motivate, inspire, improve fitness / wellness, educate, do no harm, and get them to come back for your next “perfect” kick-ass class.



Do you have a PERFECTIONIST personality-type? In my current day-job and past jobs with other employers, I’ve taken a variety of personality assessment tests…like Myers-Briggs or DISC. I won’t get into the detailed methodology for these tools…you can explore more with the help of Google. Any way you look at it, I’m a classic PERFECTIONIST, as an ISTJ (the M-B method) or Low D/I & High S/C (the DISC method). But I am NOT perfect (just ask my wife and kids!). If you’ve not heard of these two common assessment tools, or haven’t ever taken one…check them out, the results may be interesting and helpful in understanding how you work, communicate and interact with others.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s