"Creating a
shows your
you are
serious about
and demonstrating
to the
program is
an import




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Since 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 for themselves."

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