pretty much the beginning of organized fitness, commercial or otherwise,
everybody has at one time or another "saddled up" on a stationary
bike. There is a movement that is now clearly a foot, which has caught
on like wild fire. Call it Spinning, Power Pacing, Indoor Stationary Cycling,
call it what you want, this group exercise is HOT.
Here is a workout that hurtles over the
boundaries of more traditional exercise, offering serious flexibility in
programming, and is just plain good fun for members. It can be difficult
finding a program that caters equally to men and women a like, young and
old, physically fit or not.
The success of this unique program is,
no doubt, directly linked to the increase in the popularity of its not
to distant cousin the bicycle. In fact outdoor use of regular bikes on
the street is on the rise and has been for some time in major cities and
their associated suburbs. Barbara Wentworth is on the Toronto City Cycling
Committee and had some interesting facts along this line. "I think
people are starting to understand the variety of uses that a bicycle can
be used for. There is an estimated 6 to 10 percent of City of Toronto residents
that regularly commute to work or school by bike. Another study shows that
there has been approximately a 77 percent increase in frequency of bike
trips by individuals going to and from work/school in Toronto between 1985
and 1991. Recent counts conducted at various traffic points throughout
the city shows that approximately 29,000 bicycle trips are taking place
in the central area per day. On some streets 20 percent of all traffic
is bicycles. The recreational trails system in the City is currently at
about 125 km's and there are plans to expand, because there is a real demand
for it. Anyone that is down by the water front in the summer can see that
With this kind of momentum it is no wonder
fitness centres are also doing well. The trick however in successfully
"bringing it indoors", is to implement a feature packed program
that can offer members an experience that goes way beyond staring at an
instructor in a small room. Some example of high end programs include Spinning,
which was developed years ago by Johnny G, and Keisers Power Pacing program.
Collin Milner, V.P. of Sales & Marketing with Keiser Fitness Equipment,
brought me up to speed on there program. "These days we are taking
our services beyond simply marketing our fitness equipment. The Keiser
Power Pacing program covers all aspects of running a successful indoor
cycling program. Everything from safety and maintenance to physically training
staff on this proven program and outlining specifics like; suggested class
sizes, should you charge extra and off season ideas".
To find out first hand what some of the
clubs are doing I spoke with Laura Burgess Klein who heads up the program
at Mayfair Fitness Clubs in Toronto. "Currently we have Spinning Studios
in 3 of our 4 clubs. We believe in creating an atmosphere for our members.
The lighting for example is set so you feel like you have your own space,
but still gain the benefits of working out with a group. After some thought
we decided to charge a little extra to participate in the classes, we charge
$2.00 per class, or members can take advantage of a pre-paid option for
$180.00 per year. The demographics of our groups are wide spread, not only
do we have a good mix of male/female, but age as well. Two of our participants
are in there mid 70's. Our classes are full, in fact we have waiting lists,
and we have a group of real die hards, everybody is committed to the program.
To help offset the seasonal shift, we offer traditional cycling outdoors
in the warmer season. There are a number of trials near our locations here
in Toronto, so we lead group excursions. It helps keep it interesting."
Laura added that most of their clubs are
located close to outdoor bike trials. Taking members outside the club in
groups was a real boost for there off season participation. Of course one
never knows when it is going to rain or be really hot outside, so having
the indoor bikes is a real asset she said.
Indoor cycling also has ultra high performance
potential. Take Canada's top Olympic Athletes for instance. Canadian Cycling
Association's Pierre Hutseeaut is Director of the National Team Program.
He had these comments on indoor equipment. "Compared to cycling outdoors
its probably not quite as good, because it is difficult to compensate for
surface conditions, wind and weather etc., but when you live in Canada
you have to find creative ways to continue training for the next season.
Outdoor conditions a side, the physical training aspects of using indoor
bikes to train top Olympic Athletes is excellent. Because top athletes
are in a class all there own, most train at home with there own equipment.
Trainers stay in touch by e-mail or phone and can offer assistance. The
indoor machines provide the opportunity for them to train according to
a very tight performance level, often the machines are equipped with special
equipment that can gauge strength, endurance and other performance aspects
of a specific program. Kurt Hammet, a 3 time medal winner, used this equipment
as part of his training."
Tanis Wey is the Friends and Wellness
Coordinator at the YMCA in Prince George British Columbia, she had these
comments to offer. "This will be the second winter we have had the
bikes, and currently have 22 classes running right now. When we first started
our Power Pacing program we only had 13 bikes, today we have 16 and the
classes are always full. We utilize a card system that works on a first
come first served basis. Members can acquire a card a half an hour before
the class, and when the cards are gone the class in marked full. From a
workout standpoint the bikes fit nicely into our "super circuit"
providing an excellent cardio workout to compliment our weight training
program. Initially we thought that in the warmer season attendance may
slide, but, over came that by providing an opportunity for members to take
the classes outside on our patio, if it is not to hot."
One other area that I think deserves consideration
is the venue in which you hold the class. Paul Braden, who is the President
of Stationary Cycling Environments, specializes in making things look awesome,
while also providing low cost sound proofing, so you don't disturb other
members in the club that may not appreciate the "noise". Paul
gave me a few insights, "Creating a fun environment shows your members
you are serious about indoor cycling, and demonstrate your commitment to
the program, is an important element. A sensory surround experience creates
an environment with floor to ceiling graphics, wind, clouds, flooring and
LCD color video projections, creates an environment that will set the mood
and captivate your members every time they use it."
I didn't do as much yaking as I usually
do in this article as I thought that bringing forward first hand testimony
better fits the profile. Indoor Stationary Cycling is coming on strong,
and with the regular steet bikes paving the way, it is not likely to die
off any time soon. So until next time, keep the pace. CS