You played what?! Classical?!

How do most of us get motivated to push through the comfort zone when it comes to exercise? What gets you through these last 3 reps, last series of 10 press ups or last powerful 15 second sprint? For me it has always been music.

And pep talk. Usually my own. I mean it. I huff and puff and shout at myself. Internally. Mostly. But when I was climbing real hills in Spain on a bike heavier even than my Pinnacle Warhorse, fighting gradient 10-15% for the first time in my life, I was actually talking to myself out loud as if I was a participant in my own class. I may have looked slightly insane but I ploughed through those hills like a tank, first in my group.
But I digress.

Let’s go back to music. Music is the key when it comes to group exercise environment. And I mentioned in my previous posts – if the instructor doesn’t connect with the music, they will find it a mission to get you to connect to it.

Sometimes it is not that big a deal: someone asks me to play a song and as long as I can use it in my profile to achieve a desired effect I don’t have to be the biggest fan of the song. It will only be 4 minutes.

And it is good for any instructor to get out of their comfort zone and play something different from time to time. To shake things up a bit. I know I love my 90s, 80s, dance, but you will also get to hear Elvis, Enya, DJ Khaled and Blackstreet in my classes.

Two of my favourite playlists I have created so far (one being actually compiled in 80% by Robert Baldi for ICA) are the Tour de France “London Calling stage” and one I called “Across the Music”.

The first one includes only British artists and some rock songs which is not my usual cup of tea at all. But the class ends on a flat race of 8 minutes to the phenomenal piece of music that was the soundtrack to the Pandemonium sequence during the London Olympics opening ceremony. It is one of the most powerful pieces I have ever heard and it’s fantastic to use in a class.

I created the second one “Across the Music” trying to get everyone to find something for themselves so I had fun and focused on ensuring every song was from a different genre. there is Lord of the Dance track, dancehall, Elton John, The Prodigy and even Mack the Knife to finish it all off. To see the surprise on people’s faces is priceless. That “Am I hearing this right?!” moment is pure joy.

That positive reaction gave me courage to use classical Carmina Burana composition for a final race in another class. The build up of the tension, tempo, soft voices to the overwhelming choir at the end. I had shivers down my spine. You can’t ignore it! It makes your legs spin up faster against your will!

The most surprising for me though was a playlist that included 50% of old school garage songs. I kid you not: I had people of all ages and cultural backgrounds whooping during and after the class, applause going on and requests for repeat the following week. I was shocked.

I guess my advice is be bold. Don’t assume people’s tastes. Experiment.

I have a weekly class in a small gym in NW London. It is a very particular and multicultural place. Very different from anywhere else I teach as big part of the group speaks English as a second language and I get a few Muslim clients wearing head scarfs too. And yet again when I asked people for song suggestions a girl I would never have thought had a rave past, asked for some Artful Dodger and explained her choice as follows: “You see old school garage resonates with so many people because we all used to go out raving back in the day and this is what we ALL danced to. It takes us ALL back!”

It’s your workout – make sure you are working out

I had a last minute cover today in a gym I used to be a member of. I like the crowd and I think they like me too because I always get asked if I teach a regular class there. Unless they want make sure they don’t accidentally run into my class ever again 🙂

Today as per my motto “keep it real” we climbed for about 30min. Mostly steady with a few hill attacks. Now bike set up is always important but in a class where you spend 50% of your time climbing and 80% of that time in the saddle, if your bike looks like a cruiser (or I call it Boris bike) it will: impede your performance, get your upper body tired, you won’t be able to really give your best because sitting upright in the saddle you haven’t got much power in your legs.

And if you can’t really challenge yourself then it’s a very long and boring 60 minutes. I did emphasise all this before we started. I went through the set up, walked around checking those who asked and some who didn’t. Still you can never reach everyone individually.

But there was a girl whose set up was so wrong, I assumed there must be a medical reason for it. I walked up to her during the class and asked her to chat to me at the end. And she did so I asked: “Do you have any medical issues, lower back or disk problems that you should have told me about? Is there any reason your bike is set up this way? You were very uncomfortable, your arms were getting tired etc. You really need to correct it.” The response that came back just took me aback: ” Yeah, yeah, I know. I am sitting too low, my handlebars are too high. I know.” Followed by a disarming smile and a shrug.

If you are actually AWARE your set up is wrong and not good for you, you know WHAT the problems are, why are you choosing not to correct them?!

And guess what, I think I figured it out. People associate hard, challenging workout with being uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable just because of your set up you simply can’t exert yourself to the level you would if it was correct. Hence you have a great excuse to take it easy on yourself WHILE STILL feeling uncomfortable and exhausted. Yes, the main parts that are exhausted are your upper body and poor hip flexors but your body aches so it must have been a good class, right? You are sweating buckets so you are working hard, right?

Well, I hate to break it to you but no. That fact that a muscle aches doesn’t mean it is getting stronger and isn’t that why you train? If you carry your weekly shopping home and it takes you and your 7 bags 20 minutes to reach home, by which point your arms feel like they are 10 inches longer, does it mean you can skip the Bodypump class you planned to attend? If you pick up 1lbs weight and do bicep curls for 10min, will your arm be tired? Yes. Will you have made any lasting effect on it as in helped to build it and make it stronger? No.

The answer to the sweating argument? There are 17 people in a closed room with no air con, just massive alien looking units that blow super humid air at the temperature of 23 degrees right in your face: You will sweat even by thinking hard…

So next time whatever class or workout you do, listen to your body and be honest with yourself. It’s your workout. You are only going to get out of it what you put in…

But this is for cyclists – there are no cyclists in my class. They won’t get it!

As I was signing in at the reception before my Friday lunchtime class, the group exercise manager who was covering reception said to me: “You know, I am thinking of coming to your class. If I do though, it’s probably only going to be 20min because my break is short but I will sit next to the door so I can sneak out.” Management watch alert!

And she made it in. As per the plan we did a warm up, a couple of preparation songs and went into a 20 minute climb. Both standing and sitting but no breaks as such. RPE 7-8 even a bit of 9 at the end of the 4th song. It was a tough class mentally since people had to push themselves for a long period of time with no gimmicks – just in and out of the saddle.

I love leaving people to find their own motivation. I have read this phrase on Cuez that you use before a long climb: “You now have 7 minutes uphill. Stay in the saddle as much as you can but if you need a break stand up. Now our roads split here. You are going right and I am going left. I will come to check up on you half way through but then I will see you at the top!” Then I take off my mike and walk around giving people 121 attention when needed. Or even just thumbs up if they are doing a cracking job.

I know some instructors or even gym managers say: you can’t leave the group to its own devices. People get their motivation from looking at the instructor. They will get lost.

OK, but I am not leaving the room. I walk around it. Before I do, I give clear instructions so people know what speed to keep, they have heard me talk about posture and pedal strokes about 10 times by then. It’s just sitting in the saddle, pedalling. I don’t expect them to do discover a new position.
They also get 121 attention without anyone else hearing what I say to them. Sometimes I just tap their shoulders and they immediately relax them, I make a pedal stroke movement with my foot and they correct their foot position.

What is equally important is that those few minutes of just music and beat without my voice is very much appreciated by those who want to get in the zone. And it’s not easy not to talk. I leant that unless I leave my mike behind, I can’t resist the temptation.

I believe it’s important to enable people, teach them the intrinsic motivation so they don’t need you to talk to them throughout the 45minutes.

This 121 time allows you to give people personal feedback at the end of the class too.

I have learnt that if you leave the group with the right message it works like a charm: “You know how long it’s going to be. You know it will be tough. It’s getting personal now – just you and your bike. You and that little voice in your head telling you that you can’t do it. Prove it to yourself! Are you up a hill? Really? If you are not pushing your limits this will be the longest and most boring 7 minutes of your life. Embrace the discomfort.”

I had a new guy come to me after today’s class to thank me for a great challenge and the manager, who actually stayed until the end , came up to me saying those magic words that I appreciate so much: “That was a great class. It was proper cycling. I loved it!”

So you see, attention to technique or making people do “same” thing for 20minutes at a time doesn’t have to be boring. It took me 12 months to build up this class from 2-3 participants to a waiting list but I did it just by making them cycle. And they do get it.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

When I was growing up in Poland everyone was cycling. A bike was on top of the list of gifts we would get for the first communion. I got mine and it was beautiful. I just realised it was red, just as my current one!

My mum’s younger sister took it upon herself to teach me to ride. The preferred method in mid 80s was to wedge a long stick behind the saddle so the “instructor” would hold on to it without touching the actual bike and just keep you balanced.

I don’t remember every detail of that lesson but I remember the universal things every kid says whatever country they are from when they get on their first bike: “Just don’t let go OK? I will tell you when to let go OK? Are you holding? Are you sure?” and you were pedalling on that tarmac road – no helmet or padding. Who has even heard of such stuff back then? And as my aunt’s repeated: “Yes. I am. I am still holding. No, I won’t let go. I am holding. I am holding” faded away I came to realise SHE WASN’T HOLDING ANYMORE! That promptly made me lose my balance even though I have been doing great over the last whatever meters… Oh, the joys of learning to ride the bike.

I spent all my school years, so from the age of 10 to age of 15, cycling regularly. We had this green bike with no gears – you would pedal forwards only. If you moved backwards that was the break. Mind boggles. And then we added a blue one that would pass for a hybrid in those days. That one had gears and it was considered posh.

After that I did not cycle outdoors until 2010. When I got on my friend’s bike I was scared but then shocked that you don’t forget a skill that you have learnt but not used for around 16 years!

But back then I was into running. Until my disk went that is. After the surgery when I started walking and sitting properly again it was time to get back into exercise. Running was out of the question so I started indoor cycling classes again. I used to love them before my back problems. I started slowly with 15min at a time. And a set up that I would call a cruiser bike. You get the picture.

Then as it was helping me so much and there was so little else I could do I decided to do the teaching qualification. And the rest is history. 2.5 years and over 600 classes taught.

Around a year and a half ago came the idea of getting a bike. My red Pinnacle Warhorse arrived via cycle to work scheme with a condition from my managing director that I would not cycle to work 🙂 So I didn’t. I took it around Norfolk over Easter 2014:

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then Sussex in summer

That's my family behind me :)

That’s my family behind me 🙂

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and Holland at Easter 2015:

Pinnacle Warhorse

Pinnacle Warhorse

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I managed to squeeze 8 days in Spain too which was magnificent!

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With Nacho the Guide

With Nacho the Guide

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This year you have already heard of my Tour of Cambridge. I don’t know if anything else comes in between but in November I am off to cycling in South America. Nicaragua, Panama & Costa Rica so expect a long entry on that one.

So to answer the question above: yes, you should get a bike this summer.

Tour of Cambridgeshire. What they don’t tell women about cycling.

I can’t believe it has already been a week since the Tour! Last Saturday we were just having a nice dinner fuelling before the Sunday big race: 81 miles or 128km, approximately.

It was the first ever Grand Fondo in the UK – Tour of Cambridgeshire. Fully run on closed roads. First day was time trial and on the second day over 5,000 cyclists of various abilities raced against the clock and the winds of Cambridgeshire.

As the race date approached suddenly taking part didn’t sound like such a great idea. And I did not have time to put in enough outdoors training, I mean miles, at all. All I could rely on were the 7-8 indoor classes a week and about 20-30 miles over the weekend in Richmond Park.

Now I have explained in my bio that I am really new to this outdoor cycling malarkey. Yes, I have spent last two Easter breaks cycling with friends across Norfolk and Holland but that was lovely. No rush, no race, frequent pub and bar breaks included. Life was beautiful.

I did do a long 56 miles ride last year – Nightride London to Brighton for British Heart Foundation. My friend Jana made me sign up with her and then couldn’t do it so I was a lone warrior on my red Pinnacle Bike with panniers, struggling up those awful hills including the Devil’s Dyke from midnight until 5:45am.

That was the longest distance I covered in one go. Until last week.

Now a lot has changed since last year: I have become a stronger cyclist and have cycled more outdoors. I have also finally changed my pedals and started wearing SPDs when outside. I am telling you, even though I have been using the Specialized shoes indoors for over two and a half years and I know full well how much difference they make, it was still a shock to the system when I finally put them on for my usual weekend loops around Richmond Park.

If you have ever cycled there you know that if you choose to go anticlockwise you face two short but steep hills. I have been frustrated for so long when riding in trainers using pedals with no cages, that I could not conquer these hills. And the times I did, I had to get off as I was completely out of breath.

The first time I did these two wearing my old Specialized friends I had a big grin on my face: I finally could use my strength and pull my knees up instead of only pushing my legs down. Result!

The downside of wearing cleats outdoors is remembering that you are wearing them so you unclip in time to get off but I have had no problems. I was ready for the Tour!

There was the question of the bike though. Hybrids were allowed but Lee, my training partner, and my sister were both telling me my bike was too heavy for such a long ride. My sister offered hers. Still a hybrid but I can lift her Hoy with two fingers. I contemplated it. For a long time. Finally I decided against it: better the devil you know. My bike has 24 gears, hers only 8. Her frame size is different and the saddle squeaks.

That was it. I was going into the battle on a warhorse. Heavy cavalry. None of the carbon wheel rockets.

On the morning of the Tour we arrived onto the massive car park already filling up with cyclists. Boy did they look professional… Serious bikes costing an equivalent of my quarterly wages, carbon wheels etc. They started pulling out the special thingys to fix their bikes onto next to their cars so they can warm up riding them while stationary. I have only seen these things on TV before… And then we took my Pinnacle out of the car and the silence fell over the car park. Not only it’s a hybrid but it still had the rack mounted for panniers. I looked like Marty who just came into the future! Thankfully Lee discreetly took the rack off to make me feel a bit less self conscious.

We attached our time chips, pinned our numbers to the tops and applied copious amounts of sunscreen as the weather was marvellous and it was only 9am. We still had 3 hours to the start.

TOUR11

TOUR10

As it was my first ever proper race I decided to invest £60 into the official Tour top with my name on it. It was beautiful and it arrived on time. Medium size. Medium only if you are a borrower though. Hence not willing to risk my breasts bursting into the open at mile 40, I decided not to wear it and opted for a new top that I bought at the event.

It is lovely, isn't it?

It is lovely, isn’t it?

I also had to buy a new pair of gloves – as seen above. Why? Oh, it’s just that my right hand was so swollen it wouldn’t fit into the old pair. Yes, last 5 minutes of my last indoor cycling class before the race we were climbing out of the saddle. Suddenly my cleat came loose and I lost balance. To save myself I fell into the handlebars jarring my index finger badly. Great!

When I saw St John’s ambulance crew a day before the race they just said: ice it and get as much ibuprofen in as you can. So I did turn up to the race properly doped up on painkillers and hoping they would not be doing blood tests…

Around an hour before the start we proceeded to form an orderly queue to the start line. A very, very, very long queue.

Yes, over 5,000 riders

Yes, over 5,000 riders

About 6 trips to the toilet later – just in case – we were off. I said goodbye to Lee who is much more experienced and who I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with and I was on my own. Well, with 5,000 or so others. But some of were cycling teams, some just groups of friends.

I was OK on my own. I stood out on my Pinnacle. The handlebars could not be hidden. Putting on a face saying: “Oh, shit, did I take the wrong bike with me?! Oh man! I knew that would happen!” didn’t work. Neither did the look “This is not my bike. I just found it on the side of the road”. So I adopted the Minority Pride approach: Yes, this is a hybrid. Yes, it weights 3 times as much as your bike. Yes, the tires look like from a motorbike but I can handle it. I am a pro. I am an indoor cycling instructor. And like Tina Turner said before me I was “gonna do it rough”!

I have never ridden on closed roads before and for the first 20 miles I kept expecting a car to pass by. Especially that when you have trains of 4-6 cyclists passing you by at around 20-22 mph they do sound like an approaching car. It was great to actually experience riding with some semi-professionals. Sun was shining, the roads were mostly flat. What else can you ask for?

And then I saw him!

Yes! I wasn't alone! There were 3 of us I believe among 5,000 using hybrid bikes.

Yes! I wasn’t alone! There were 3 of us I believe among 5,000 using hybrid bikes.

My heart quickened – there were more of us! “This is how you do it!” I shouted to the guy. “Damn right!” was the response. Over the course I actually got thumbs up from some serious pro racers saying: “I can’t believe you are doing the Tour on THAT and you are already that far!”

First feeding station was next and I was doing great. On schedule. No problems. I called my sister to let her know all was fine and I was back in the saddle.

Around mile 40 I was in high spirits. My legs were fine even though my right adductor was beginning to feel like it was going into a cramp. But what really started bothering me was my nether regions. yes, my WOMAN AREA.

This is one of the main things I need to vent about OK? And before you freeze in “No, she wouldn’t, would she?!” expression – I will not be posting any pictures of that area but what follows in the next paragraph will be quite graphic but it has to be said. Women who just venture into long distance cycling need to be told!

I noticed in one of my training rides around 30 miles long that my legs, HR etc were all good, my bum in the padded shorts was comfy but my front was anything but. It was so uncomfortable and sore that I could not continue my ride that day. I decided to ask for advice. Next day I was teaching a class where two of the regulars are women triathletes (both of them were doing the Tour). I went straight in for the kill: what do I do to make it possible to ride 80 miles.

Lara gave me a knowing smile and recalled that in one of her first long races she had to stop she was so uncomfortable THERE. She went into the medics and said her bits were getting so destroyed she would have to stop the race. The nurse said: Rubbish! Loads and loads of Vaseline. Failing that look for a ripe banana and mash it before you apply it! Before you go “Ewwww!!!” – if you have never felt like you were on fire down below (cystitis) and at the same time going to tear into pieces, hold your judgement. Suddenly mashed banana sounds like a genius idea, believe you me.

So here I was: I knew it was going to happen so I applied Vaseline and some lady cream to prevent any major damage. Boy did it fail… Ladies, if you ever needed a motivation for completing a long distance race as fast as you can – THIS IS IT!

After about 2,5 – 3 hours second feeding station stop. Loo. Jeez! Fire! Fire in the hole!!! More cream applied. Back in the saddle. That continued until the end.

Oh, but not before I crashed spectacularly into a nettle bush. How? Nothing too dramatic. I stopped to stretch. Came to a stop. Forgot to unclip. Went onto my left side like a log. I was actually laughing at myself and thinking – lucky me, this didn’t even hurt! On Tuesday (2 days after the race) it turned out it actually did. Massive bruise on my hip and dead weight left shoulder just proved that the numerous ibuprofens that I took to numb my right hand started to wear off…

My last 10 miles were the slowest ever. I struggled. My leg was crumping but all I could think of is that I could not sit in that saddle any longer! I wished there were hills so you could work out of the saddle.

Then there it was. The finish line. 6 hours after the start with 5:20 of actual riding, the rests were stops.
TOUR1

Lee and my sister were waiting for me. They took care of my bike when I went to the loo again. Well, I hobbled like John Wayne, more like. I just wanted these padded shorts off and ideally wanted to go commando! All the way from Peterborough to London. Man! I could not continue I swear to God.

The saga continued for the next 5 days. I was so sore and uncomfortable I thought my nether regions would never look the same again. Or feel. I just wanted not to feel them all the time. If a man approached me in hope of intimacy I would kill him with my bare hands.

Will I do such a long race again? I think it’s like with childbirth – if you give yourself enough time to forget, at some point another 80 mile race will sound like a good idea again. But not yet.

For now, tomorrow I am going to check out a proper racing bike. I am told they have got saddles with a groove in the right area, if you catch my drift. I am also going to up my training so I can slash at least 30 minutes from that kind of distance. But main thing, I will keep researching for ways to deal with this burning problem we as women face when cycling for hours at a time. Any advice will be most welcome!

Les Mills ONELIVE – One Tribe

You have probably heard about Les Mills. Failing that I bet you have seen a Bodypump, Bodybalance or RPM class on your gym’s timetable. These are some of the classes they offer across most gyms.
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I have been so busy with my full time job and teaching indoor cycling that I have never had a chance to try them. Well actually I did take an RPM once, which is their take on indoor cycling.

As a freelance instructor what put me off adding a Les Mills instructor qualification to my toolbox were two things: choreography and music.

You get given a choreography that you have to learn and follow so the programme is unified across the board and there are new releases every few months. You are also given the music that you have to use which means paying a licence fee that covers the CDs, workshops etc.

The music was my main thing: I have to feel the music I teach to otherwise it just doesn’t work. I have used other people’s class profiles found on websites or at workshops but in 99% of the cases I had to change the music completely.

When it comes to teaching indoor cycling I am trying to keep it real so not every class I teach involves intervals or HIIT. Sometimes we do races or 40 min climbs or pure cadence drills so I found the RPM programme very restrictive. Plus I enjoy creating profiles, sometimes adding a little presentation on a DVD to it way too much to give it up. And the music? Yes, it costs a lot too and it sometimes takes hours to find the right songs but when it all comes together the feeling is great.

The one RPM class that I took had all rocky tracks – the kind of music I simply hate so that was just a confirmation: this was not for me.

But today at Alexandra Palace Les Mills held their big ONELIVE event with tens of classes you could try. It was a bit pricey at £75 but you could do 7 x 55min classes between 8:30am and late afternoon. I booked 6 and then last week a disaster struck resulting in a hand injury so today I could not try the Bodypump but I watched two classes.

What’s my verdict? I loved it! The music was great – at least for this release. The workout was really challenging and as soon as I am better I will definitely take a class or two. I loved the clear options for various fitness levels. Apart from the main presenters on stage they also had instructors working the floor and correcting form and giving directions to those who needed it. People wooping and cheering giving into the feeling of being “one tribe” which is Les Mills motto. Great!
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I was hoping to watch Bodybalance and RPM too but cycling was booked up and you couldn’t watch it as it was in a closed room. The same went for Bodybalance and everything else. That was disappointing.

But I didn’t despair as I also booked Bodystep. This class followed the Bodypump on the main floor. I must say to see all 1,200 people do the same choreography was a proper spectacle. Unless you are like me and your brain cannot understand what to do when faced with someone you have to copy: when they lift right leg up do I lift right leg up or left? (This is the reason I don’t drive: when I look in the mirrors I no longer know what’s left or right).

I followed people in front of me – who clearly have done that before – for as long as I could but then we stepped it up and started incorporating TURNS?! That’s where the car crash feeling became too overwhelming and I left. Thankfully I was realistic about my chances and my step was the closest to the exit so I sneaked out unnoticed… Verdict? Great class, great energy. Could I teach it ever? Hell no!

Overall a good event. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, even a few toddlers perched on their Les Mills instructor parents’ hips. It was a really good feeling to see thousands of people (there were 3 classes happening at the same time with 1,200 people on the main floor and at least 1,000 across the other studios) who got up way before 7am on a miserable Saturday morning to spend a few hours exercising.

There was a sense of community in the air. Even when I was waiting for W3 bus to take me down the hill to Wood Green station it was omnipresent. There was another girl in Les Mills gear waiting for the same bus. A few minutes later we were joined by an incredibly hunky guy in a Bodypump T-shirt who asked me in his sexy Kiwi accent: “How much is a single ticket these days?”. “I am not sure. £2 something… Oh., wait, actually London buses don’t take cash anymore. Have you got a contactless bank card?”. “Oh, no, I don’t… I may have to try and bribe the driver with cash…”. At this point the girl said: “Don’t worry! I have a contactless card and an oyster so you can use one of mine”. “Are you sure? Thank you so much!” responded the Nice Eyes With Sexy Body. Damn! I should have offered that, I thought. Instead I just smiled at them and said: “One Tribe!”.

You want to Rock the Bike? At what price?

Yesterday saw Rock the Bike founder Keith Thompson‘s – now a celebrity in his own right – assault on London indoor cycling scene. Here is an example that I think EVERYONE has seen on FB over the last year or so but just in case you have been living under a rock … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EFJvKTaOnM

I chose not to attend. Why? I have seen what he does on Youtube and I would never do these things on the bike. Off the bike? On the dance floor? Challenge me anytime! The man has moves!

Now let’s give credit where the credit is due. The guy used to be obese and through determination has transformed his life and as a consequence his body. Great achievement! His own indoor cycling instructor was so taken with his personality and how he managed to get her own class, where he was only a participant, into a full blast fun mood that she found a way to get a scholarship for him to qualify as a fitness instructor. That included indoor cycling qualification of some sort. He jumped on the opportunity and qualified. Another big brownie point goes to Keith.

Soon his classes became so popular that the gym increased their weekly number and still could not cope with the demand. However, alarm bells started ringing as his unconventional approach to indoor cycling, basically what he was doing on the bike, caused some serious concern (even though I haven’t found specific details) and Keith and the gym parted ways. I should think that nobody in that gym with any recognised cycling qualification could look at what was happening in these classes anymore and finally the management had to say enough is enough. People’s health and the high risk of long term serious injuries are more important than 45min fun here and now.

A few months ago on my FB page I wrote a review of a class that was taught at my local gym by an outside company. They were doing loads of similar moves to those Keith does. All of them considered as dangerous for your joints, not very effective and simply unsafe. Another thing they had in common with Rock the Bike was that they brought the “Party on the bike!!!” feel into the studio. I love me a party, why not? But I love my 2 knees and my back more and having had a serious surgery on my disk once, I am not willing to risk another.

I can hear you say: but people and this guy included have been taking these classes for years and they are fine! I say: give it time…

But there is also an immediate risk when doing dodgy moves on a bike. I found this review of Keith’s class online: “I am not a skilled Spin dancer. In fact, any newbies should probably learn their way around a Spin bike before taking a class with Thompson — I almost fell off and I’ve been riding for ten years!”

Taking the outdoors in and indoors out – what is this blog all about?

Hello and welcome to my blog. I have been toying with this idea for a while. Every time I have got some thoughts after an indoor cycling class I have just taught or a teaching experience I would love to share with my participants or fellow instructors, I find that FB is not always the best place to put anything too lengthy. Not to mention Twitter! Hence I decided to give blogging a go.

This blog will have two sides. First, my take on indoor cycling as an instructor – so advice for people taking the classes both from the technical point of view and more general stuff from the group exercise perspective. I will be reviewing cycling programmes, giving my opinion on indoor bike types etc. and talking about challenges I set in my classes from time to time.

The second part will document my journey as I venture into the world of outdoor cycling, carbon wheels, Vaseline, least damaging saddles, Garmins, Strava and battling the winds on the hills of Richmond Park or occasionally Westerham Hill or Crystal Palace. Or more recently in the Tour of Cambridgeshire. I am only at the start of it so it will be great to have you on the journey.

I will also be reporting from more leisurely trips here. The ones taken on my trusted Pinnacle hybrid bike that took me around Norfolk, Sussex and Holland so far. Plus tales from cycling holidays using locally rented bikes: Spain already in the past and South America coming next in November 2015.

I am ready. I usually start my classes like this:

I am Izabela. we have 45min workout to do so let’s do it! Relax your upper body, your neck, roll the shoulders back and down, lean from your hips forward and get your hands comfortably on the handlebars. Resistance nice and easy but make sure you stay in control of your bike. Take a deep breath in and let’s go!