Well, maybe not literally, but it might be something to consider. Why not set your bikes up in a circle? This may be just what participants need to spice up their ride.
When the class is in a circle, it changes some fundamental class dynamics:
1. participants who usually sit in the back row are no longer able to hide!
2. participants can interact with others who they may not have in the past
3. allows for a chance to see other participants face to face
4. provides an opportunity to see mirrored riding technique and the opportunity to match cycling biomechanics
I have to be honest, some participants are not a huge fan of the circle set-up. Especially those that like to hide in the back!
Here are some circle drill ideas that you can try. I encourage you to use your imagination and design your own!
1. Chain Reaction Wave
Starting in a seated position (moderate resistance, 80-90 rpm), initiate a standing position. Remember to add resistance when standing! As you stand, the participant on your left stands, followed by the next and the next, until the whole circle is standing. After a moment or two, as the participants become comfortable, start the 'chain reaction' again by sitting. Alternate between standing and sitting while remembering to cue the proper level of resistance and cadence. Encourage others in the circle to initiate the 'wave'. Participants need to stay aware and use their peripheral vision to watch for changes.
2. Cross Circle Partner Challenges
Have participants chose a partner across from them in the circle. For two minutes, pairs are challenging their partners with hills, sprints, power, seated, standing, steady state drills. Encourage 'jockeying' for lead but allow for each partner a chance to dictate the ride. This drill encourages participants to keep facing forward, watching their partner's next move. Cycle participants usually push themselves much harder than you as the instructor would push them! Over time, increase the duration of the challenge to upwards of 5 minutes. It is also advisable to switch partners, allowing other participants to push each other in a different way. Some participants are stronger at hill climbs while others like sprinting. Changing partners forces each participant out of their comfort zones!
3. Circle Challenge
Depending on your group, you may be able to mimic the above drill with the whole group. It takes a lot of watching and multiple drills can happen at the same time. That's okay, although more than three concurrent drills will become chaotic, and you as the instructor will likely need to sort things out a bit.
Start slowly, having participants call the drill for two minute durations and extend the duration as time or participant comfort permits.
If the group is not as well versed in drill types (and challenging one another), more structure and guidance is preferable, at least at the beginning. This can be done in a couple ways.
A . Use the rating of perceived exertion scale to guide the ride. Moving through the circle (like a wave, again), have a participant yell out a number. For example, participant picks 5/10, you would then call a drill with a HARD effort using a combination of cadence and resistance. You can move through all your participants, setting a relatively short, fixed duration for each choice (i.e., 30 seconds each with a circle of 20 participants would be 10 minute drill).
B. Provide a set number of drill options for participants to choose from. For example, three set drills are a seated hill climb, standing hill climb, and a downhill. Again, moving through the circle, have a participant pick one of the three. The time that each participant is given to ‘call the shots’ can be varied depending on class size and the overall amount of time you have.
I usually keep circle workouts towards the end of a series of classes. Most participants at the beginning in the first few classes are just getting settled so mixing it up too early may cause confusion. It also mixes things up a bit just when participants think they know what to expect. Be warned though, there are those participants who like their spot! They may not appreciate the bike set-up that changes too often. In those cases, you can pitch it as a one-time event (it really comes down to knowing your class).
Nothing can beat the participant's face when walking into the studio when the bikes are set up in a circle! Give your class a shake up and try a circle!
Workman's Cycle Drills & Skills
Enjoy some of my favorite cycle workout drills either in a cycle class or on your own bike at home!