_ Fusion classes are becoming more and more prevalent in group exercise classes. Participants are looking to get the most bang for their buck and thus keen to try multiple modes together in one class. Recently, I spoke with Chelsea Coghill, a group exercise leader with the University of Alberta’s Campus Recreation, about her experience leading a fusion class.
How did you come with the idea to merge an indoor cycling and a yoga class?
The idea was actually posed to me by the U of A Campus Recreation Group Exercise Coordinator when I was initially hired on to teach regular sessions. It was a format that had been tried in the past. The coordinator offered me the fusion class based on my cross training in indoor cycle and yoga only, knowing that there might be challenges in the event I needed a sub because at the time I would have been the only instructor trained in both formats!
What do you think is the most beneficial aspect of a fusion class?
I think the most beneficial aspects of fusion classes are BALANCE and VARIETY. In the cycle-yoga context, cyclists tend to prefer the high intensity and energetic demands of a spin class but may neglect the cool down and stretching components that are also really important. The yoga component offers an extended cool down and stretch along with calming and settling effects. We can’t be go-go-go all of the time, nor is it productive to always be still – BALANCE! Variety is also important to challenge the body, keep classes fun and interesting. It’s nice to follow a format but also allow for new things to be introduced. My favourite instructors are always the ones who hold their style and structure but continue to change things up – you just never know what might show up!
Why does an indoor cycle-yoga fusion class work so well?
To build a little bit on what I’ve already said, the spin-yoga fusion works well because of the complementary nature of the formats, which offers balance. For the indoor cyclists out there, they know that the cycling room can be a place of high energy and intensity – pounding hearts, heavy breathing, high speed, steep hills, burning muscles and maybe even sweat puddles under the bike! Avid cyclists know that muscles get tight and stiff, especially if time is not taken to thoroughly stretch out those working muscles. Adding the yoga component to cycle offers a greater opportunity to build length and flexibility in those areas of the body that get especially tight. It’s also a nice extension that offers participants an opportunity to fully absorb that endorphin release, allowing for additional calming and well being benefits.
Describe a typical class.
Generally, the class is about 80 minutes. The first half to two thirds (37-50 min)
_of the class follows a standard indoor cycle format, which also varies within itself. We begin with a warm-up: maybe a brief stretch and some short drills to get the heart rate up a bit and warm up the muscles. The middle portion of the cycle section tends to be quite intense, though I always remind participants to take it to their own level. Indoor cycle group exercise classes are one of the greatest for self paced intensity. Participants are in complete control of resistance and speed and can challenge themselves more or take breaks when they need to. After a cool down on the bike we move into another room for the second half to last third of the class (25-37 min) for yoga and stretching. I tend to hold a basic format for the yoga component, but like cycle, always introduce new poses. Props may be used. Even though the focus of the yoga component is to lengthen the muscles used on the bike, I might throw in strength building practices that focus on core and lower body. I always try to fit in a short relaxation practice at the very end.
Who are your participants? What do they enjoy about the class?
Participants generally tend to be U of A students and staff. Campus Recreation also allows non-students/staff to participate in programs, which I also have attend my classes. Based on verbal feedback from participants they like that the high intensity cycle followed by yoga offers a great compliment to each other, they like the music I use (I tend to use up-beat pop/dance/electronic music but also throw in different genres for variety), they like that you don’t have to be an experienced cyclist or yogi to attend – it’s an all levels class which offers options and modifications, they like that they feel very challenged during the cycle portion (and might hate me at that time), but experience a sense of calm and release by the end of yoga (they love me then)! My goal is to always create an experience for participants during class that leaves them at the end thinking, “yeah, that was awesome!”
What is your advice to other indoor cycling instructors who want to try leading some form of a fusion class?
I think it’s important to know your formats. Be well practiced, trained and certified in what you teach by completing recognized training programs and courses. Idea shop! Go to other instructor’s classes to get ideas to add variety to your instruction. Think about purpose and goals. Why do you do the drills and practices that you do? How can drills on the bike later be complimented by stretching or strength practices later on or maybe during. Be creative. Try new things. Ask for participant feedback on what you do or what they would like to see. Ask yourself if you would want to participate in your own class! Remember that you can’t please everyone, but you can always please someone. Sometimes it is knowing that you’ve made a difference or positive impact in one person’s world that makes it truly worthwhile as an instructor!
Chelsea’s passion for both disciplines and experience definitely shine through in her candid responses. It has got me thinking about what other forms of group exercise classes could be merged together. A common one I’ve seen is “Spin and Strength” whereby resistance exercises that target cycling anatomy are incorporated. A more recent version I’ve heard of is indoor cycling classes for mom and baby. Believe it or not, babies sit comfortably in their car seat beside mom’s bike while mom pedals away! Shall we call it “The Mother Ride” or maybe “Babes and Bikes”? You might just see me teaching this class soon!
Chill Ride, Chelsea’s indoor cycling-yoga fusion class, starts again in January at the U of A. It runs January 17-April 3 (11 Tuesdays) from 12:05 – 1:25 pm and drop-in passes are accepted. Click here for more information.
How can you include your passion(s) with an indoor cycling class? What fusion can you suggest to your program coordinator or class participants? I challenge you to find something new for 2012!
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!