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“Spinning” and Core Training video (ummmm, not really…)

By Jennifer Sage On February 10, 2012 Under Contraindications

A facility in Southern California called Studio Sweat has announced that it is going to start offering online streaming videos of its “Spinning” classes. They have several of them posted on their site. Here is one they call “SpinCore”.

Before you watch it, has anyone here taken the official “Spin® and Core” Continuing Education Course from Mad Dogg Athletics and Spinning®? I used to teach it….and I have to say, it looks nothing like this……

I use “Spinning” above and in the title of this blog post very loosely – quoting their title on their video. The immediate problem is the blatant misuse of the Spinning® trademark when what they are doing is most certainly not Spinning®. If you are going to call something “Spinning” there are some very important criteria to adhere to, not the least of which is to have the legal permission to do so (via a license agreement). But you also have to adhere to the Spinning® program and to the techniques taught in the manual, and having been a Spinning® Master Instructor for 12 years, I can tell you that this instructor is either not Spinning® certified, or she is ignoring what she learned in her certification and making stuff up. “Stuff” that may injure her students (hence, the reason they are not included in the programs of ANY reputable indoor cycling certification program including Spinning®, Schwinn®, Keiser®, Real Ryder®, Cycling Fusion®, C.O.R.E.®, CycleOps®, and more).

It’s a long video. If you have time to watch it, let me warn you that you will not learn how to be a good coach in this video. But you might learn what not to do in your classes. There are hovers, isolations, strange fore-aft movements, excessive cadence, extremely high resistance with a cadence somewhere around 20-30rpm (yes knee-popping hard). Worse, there are super slow, super high resistance segments with the hands behind the back, inviting some serious strain of the lumbar spine. Then the instructor asks students to keep that high resistance and pedal at double time. None of these would be techniques used by any cyclist to improve performance. But that warning should not be limited to cyclists alone, right? Non-cyclists, our average students, have the right to safe and effective training too, don’t they? It follows that non-cyclists should also not do any of these techniques.

Most importantly, pay attention to the students reflected in the mirror. Many of them struggle, really struggle, to do what she is asking, and their form falls apart.Poor form is what leads to injury and lack of success (and all that goes with that, such as feeling inadequate). This is a case where the instructor is pretty fit and can do most of it herself (although at several points she can barely talk). But she doesn’t give any modifications for students, nor does she correct them at any point. She can stand up and pedal at over 100rpm and still look ok doing it, but no one else can. By the way, this is one of those things that is not advisable for anyone – you would not see a skilled cyclist doing that for longer than a few seconds.

The ride is nothing more than a series of go-as-hard-as-you-can intervals (at one point she yells for everyone to go at “100%!”) with insufficient recovery. Intervals are extremely effective when done properly with sufficient recovery. You will notice that sometimes their “recovery”, at the most about a minute long, is either a complete stop or hardly moving the pedals (or some students in the mirror are doing this with no correction). At the intensity that she seems to be asking, the recovery should be at least 1X and up to 3X the interval duration, and it should be active recovery with the legs moving. With insufficient recovery, what you end up with is a whole bunch of mediocre efforts. These students would have been much better off with quality hard efforts with the correct amount of resistance with more recovery.

In this class, there is never any mention of heart rate or even perceived exertion. Perceived exertion is an excellent tool for measuring whether someone is getting the intended adaptations out of the workout. But if they have no clue because their coach hasn’t told them, students will often go too hard or too easy, and most often end up in “mediocreville” (to quote Tom Scotto, ICA contributor, USA Cycling Coach and renowned indoor cycling coach and Master Trainer).

In the core training segment, they get off the bikes while the heart rates are still high and immediately go to the floor. This is not recommended and for some students can be quite dangerous.

Positive aspects of this class? Well, at least she doesn’t try to do any core movements while still riding the bike. And she does have good energy and voice projection – she could really be an excellent instructor if she employed safer techniques and added cycling knowledge to her education.

Streaming Videos
Spinning® trademark violations aside, I am scratching my head and wondering how on earth they think they will sell streaming videos of their classes with the music that she is playing. Do they have any concept of Copyright violations and music rights? To obtain the licensing to play those particular popular mainstream songs on a DVD, video or online streaming would probably cost in excess of $15,000-$25,000 per song. Yes, per song per video. Do the math for a 12-14 song class and you can see why legitimate music videos have the music they do. It’s what they can afford.

As a comparison, and as an education in how difficult and logistically involved the music licensing part is, Cycling Fusion has done something completely unique that no other DVD or online streaming company has done. Gene Nacey of Cycling Fusion has created a large library of Pre-Cleared music to be used in his digital classes and DVDs. Pre-cleared means he’s received permission prior to the video creation to use these songs, and defer payment. For all Cycling Fusion videos the artist IS PAID every single time an online video is viewed anywhere in the world! Amazing concept, amazing program. He says they are increasing the size of their library by making ongoing arrangements with artists and agencies.

Why am I showing you this video and discussing the music issue? Because every instructor and facility should know about Copyright and Trademarks and the importance of not violating them. And as usual, I am playing the role of Ralph Nader in the indoor cycling industry and pointing out unsafe practices that should be avoided. Here’s to safe and effective indoor cycling all over the globe!

Note: if you haven’t seen these blog posts on that very subject, check them out.

This could be one of the most dangerous indoor cycling classes ever
Indoor Cycling in the Heat

How Cyclists Should Approach Indoor Cycling Classes
The Seven Deadly Sins of Spinning®
Let’s ignore science and do what we want on a bike

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