This could be one the craziest (and most dangerous) Indoor Cycling classes I’ve seen

By Jennifer Sage On October 27, 2011 Under Contraindications

EDIT Dec 2015: It appears Youtube has removed this video for copyright violations. I always wondered how it stayed up for as long as it did since she used a popular song in its entirety. Even though you can’t watch it, please continue to read the evaluation of these moves below…I am sure you can conjure up a visual in your head! 😉 

This is Fitness and “Spinning” Gone Wrong*

As a new feature on the Sage Advice Blog, I’ll be posting new videos as I find them and analyzing what is good about them or what is lacking from a biomechanical, physiological, anatomical, exercise science, cycling and just plain common-sense perspective. If you are new to this blog, make sure to read the Seven Deadly Sins of Spinning post.

I’ve developed a 1-10 scale, rating the following for each of the movements or techniques:

  1. effectiveness (how well it does what that movement purports to achieve)
  2. functional benefit (is it functionally helpful for anything you may do in any activity, on or off the bike?)
  3. danger (injury proneness);
  4. silliness (lol).

The first two you want to be as high as possible (9-10 would be highly effective, highly functional), and the second two you want to be as low as possible (like zero would be preferable).

Let’s take a look at each of the “moves” she does in this 1-minute video.

1. Crunches with back extensions from the saddle. First the backbend part: hopefully you won’t need to go to a chiropractor just from watching this. The danger she is presenting to her students is substantial. Taking such a high risk as this places this into the major liability category. I’m baffled – do club owners not care that their liability is being challenged? It’s their pocketbooks. I mean, instructors don’t make any money, so who would be the one the rider with the slipped disc goes after? Personal trainers would never EVER consider having their clients lean back like this when the body is not stabilized (and most wouldn’t do it even if they are stabilized, because it serves no purpose and the risk is too high). But why is it acceptable on a Spin bike? This is where the fitness industry has problems – there is no standardization, no accountability, no professional requirements for group fitness instructors. No reputable indoor cycling certification program would either teach or condone any of these moves.

Scale: see #2 since it’s combined with that movement.

2. The oblique crunch. Where in any exercise physiology book, or personal training certification, would they teach you to do a crunch of any kind while sitting upright? They wouldn’t. Why? Because that is not the way the abdominal muscles get strong. They must contract AGAINST a resistance, and usually, the resistance is moving away from gravity – as in doing a crunch while laying on the floor opposing gravity. Personal trainers know this. Some cycling instructors do not.

Effectiveness: zero. Functional benefit: zero. Danger: 10 (due to added back bend – the actual “crunch” is more ineffective and silly than dangerous, although many students end up pulling their neck down). Silliness: off the scale.

3. High cadence standing movement (at :20). Leg speed is too fast with insufficient resistance. People are bobbing all over the place. I could prove it to them if I could put power meters on the bikes. Slower cadence with higher resistance would actually mean MORE power output which means MORE calories burned, while at the same time actually doing something to strengthen the legs. There are no strength benefits to spinning the legs as fast as in this video, because it’s the flywheel turning the pedals, not the legs. Also, by not having resistance, rider’s hips and spine are unsupported at such a high cadence, potentially injuring the low back. There’s a whole lot of spinal jiggling going on by people without the body strength or skill to be jiggled like that.

Effectiveness: 4/10. Functional benefit 1/10. Danger:7/10 Silliness: 5/10.

4. Hip thrusts while pedaling like the roadrunner (at :24): Add this to the unsupported uncontrolled cadence, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. One wrong move, one moment of distraction by a rider and they ain’t coming back. Ever.

Effectiveness: zero. Functional Benefit: zero. Danger: 9/10. Silliness 10/10.

5. Boxing (at :29). Um, no.

Just so you know, standing up and trying to balance while you are pedaling does not teach you balance, and it does not work the core. Have you ever heard of functional training?

Effectiveness: 1/10. Functional Benefit: zero. Danger: 6/10 (not from the “boxing” but from losing balance or slipping off the bike). Silliness: 10/10.

6. Pushups. One word: why? Do a pushup at your desk while sitting upright and you’ll have the answer to that question. They.Do.Not.Do.Anything. Except of course, get in the way of proper pedaling, proper mechanics, and effective breathing. The back is at risk, especially when done that fast, but you’re more likely to smack your teeth into the handlebars. It’s actually more silly than dangerous.

Effectiveness: 0/10. Functional benefit: 0/10. Danger: 5/10. Silliness: 9/10.

7. Hand behind the back (at :32). Again, I have to ask why? It doesn’t teach balance, it doesn’t work the core, and it detracts from proper anything on the bike.

Effectiveness: 0/10. Functional benefit: 0/10. Danger 2/10. Silliness: 9/10

(Note: if she had both hands behind the back, as is fairly common in some classes, that would raise the danger to the low back to a 9/10. You want back strength? Do a properly performed plank on the floor.)

8. Arms swings to a standing position (at :36). Imagine doing that on a real bike? OK, these people haven’t ridden a bike since their tricycles. So imagine throwing your hands a little too hard, and losing control of where your hips go (easy to do when the legs are whirring around like a weedwacker at 120X a minute). The feet can so easily come out of the pedals (so few students wear shoes that clip in and most do not tighten the toe clips).

And please tell me how is this going to improve your fitness? Anyone? Buehler?

Effectiveness: 1/10. Functional benefit: 1/10. Danger 8/10. Silliness: 10/10.

9. Humping movement at :40. Huh? I had to go back and watch that several times because I was so incredulous. See her spine? With an unsupported movement like this while the legs are spinning that fast, the spine curling fore and aft like a cat, it could quickly injure a vertebrae.

Scale – everything off the charts.

I find a class like this to be such a disappointment, because she is a very cute and obviously charismatic instructor. And I bet her students love her. Can you imagine what she (and her students) could achieve if she trained them properly? She’d be off the charts (but in a good way).

This is fitness gone wrong….Can you believe all of these 9 seriously contraindicated moves happen in less than one minute?! Well, that is because of the video editing, but still, that’s a lot even in a one hour class. Even one is too many.

It doesn’t have to be that way! There is a way to teach and participate in fun, exciting, safe and effective indoor cycling classes without the gimmicks. It’s called Keeping it Real!


EDIT Oct 31, 2011: I just got some disturbing news about this instructor. This woman, doing all these dangerous contraindicated moves, apparently has a kinesiology degree from Cal State Northridge! Now that’s a stunning endorsement of their kinesiology department…. that or she has completely eschewed all the knowledge she learned of how the body works and moves. Or, she barely passed her exams.

That would be like your doctor, with his MD diploma hanging on his wall, practicing some black magic on you and claiming its going to heal you.

*Note: this is NOT Spinning® and has no relation to a properly conducted Spinning® class.





  • […] Too many dangerous moves to list with Lila […]

  • […] little to no resistance can result in injuries. In a separate post detailing an unsafe spin class, Sage wrote, ”by not having resistance, rider’s hips and spine are unsupported at such a high […]

  • […] little to no resistance can result in injuries. In a separate post detailing an unsafe spin class, Sage wrote, “by not having resistance, rider’s hips and spine are unsupported at such a high […]

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    13 Comments Add yours

    1. Gino
      October 28, 2011
      5:02 am #comment-1

      Actually, this is very useful. They’ve just made a “clinic” on why we exist at Cycling Fusion… why outdoor cyclists don’t go to “spin” classes, and why this industry is over due for an alternative. Now, when someone asks what is different between … I hate to even say Spinning – because to be fair, even Mad Dogg would not want to own up to this – but unfortunately this is what people call spinning. I just hope NO ONE does this in an Indoor Cycling class and still calls it Indoor Cycling.

      We should come up with a name for this style of riding… well it’s not really riding – this um… activity. Something that doesn’t put the “blame” on the Mad Dogg… just because they started the genre. Perhaps something like EXORCYCLING because it sort of looks like they need a good exorcism – they’re trying to force that demon to come out; through the back bends, spinning it through their legs, trying to crush it on the handle bars, and when all else fails, trying to trick it by humping it out. At the end, I hope they’re smiling, so it must have worked!

    2. Kala
      October 28, 2011
      10:33 am #comment-2

      Wow… Yes, there were some new ones. I actually in an odd way was “impressed” than one can torque themselves that incorrectly on a bike!!!!

    3. Matt Scheffer
      October 28, 2011
      12:25 pm #comment-3

      The fact that this instructor would allow her name to be put on this video scares me! Maybe this is just some sort of Halloween horror movie…

    4. Bill
      October 28, 2011
      5:08 pm #comment-4

      I agree with everything you mention with one exception. The ‘humping’ was both effective and had a functional benefit. Not for her or her riders, but for me….repeatedly. I can’t stop watching the video, especially the part with Lyla humping. Thanks.

    5. Shirin
      October 28, 2011
      7:21 pm #comment-5

      She ACTUALLY video taped herself,.. SHE thinks She is doing a great job! THAT is the scary part!!
      O M G !!!!!
      Oh, Jennifer :(((((( You’ve got your work to do!

    6. Le
      October 28, 2011
      7:52 pm #comment-6

      Dropped my jaw watching the video!
      I e-mailed this post to my regular riders and Bcced my cycling team, and asked them to fire me on the spot if they ever see me do just one move like hers.
      Thanks Jennifer posting the goods and bads.

    7. Anonymous
      October 28, 2011
      8:03 pm #comment-7

      The video above is crazy… 🙁 …but unfortunately it is not the craziest on earth.

      How about this one?

      My personal “favourites” start at 4:00 and 5:26… I can’t find words.

    8. DIVA
      October 31, 2011
      6:26 am #comment-9

      This instructor is an idiot. She knows better but she obviously doesn’t care. Adults should not turn into children in spin sessions. Practically every time sub a class, there is usually one or more members doing “contraindications”. I have not adopted “the member is always right rule” so I say over the mic, ” no contras – not here – not today”. If you really feel the need, go walk backwards on a treadmill with your ipod.

    9. Joanna
      November 1, 2011
      10:44 am #comment-10

      This is all about what not to do and this instructor should be fired.. obviously no certification, no training, no brains!! She will hurt someone and that is the very sad part of this whole scene!!

    10. Julie
      May 10, 2012
      10:41 am #comment-11

      I know how you feel trust me about this idiot !!!! I have to put up with one of our instructors teaching like this and no one ( powers to be) will simply stop her before she damages someone !!!!! It makes a mockery of the whole spinning program and it’s formats etc

    11. Steven Herron
      September 24, 2012
      4:33 pm #comment-12

      A new indoor biking studio just opened this past weekend and was offering free classes. I decided to try it and was considering applying for an instructor position since I am IFTA Certified. I had read this blog post last Fall. As soon as the class started I said, “OMG, I am IN one of those classes!!!” I nearly walked out knowing the dangers however I wanted to witness for myself how the other class members were doing. Generally speaking there form suffered, on both the bike and the other “exercises”, and startling to me the instructor made NO CORRECTIONS or warned them about proper form and technique to avoid injury. She provided no safety precautions at all! I came out of the class feeling like I missed out on the opportunity for a great indoor bike class and had an aching back.

      Needless to say, I never inquired about being an instructor. I couldn’t do that in good faith. My dilemma now is what do I do about knowing how bad that studio is!

    12. Martin Young
      March 19, 2016
      2:57 am #comment-13

      I sometimes ask my classes to sit up to take a posture break, I ask them first to add a little resistance “just for balance” and to sit up, peddle as normal with there hands behind there back, this allows for a little stretch time. Its not a drill, I ask them to hold position for about only 20/30 seconds then its hands back on the bars. Its not part of the class workout just a posture break. My question now is. Am I asking them to do something dangerous ?

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