Saturday, March 9, 2013

Please pass the popcorn

Recently a class participant caught me after class (I'm always slow to leave and quick to start up a conversation) and asked me a question.

She went on to tell me she was having problems with her IT band.  She hadn't had issues with this for awhile, since she had given up running in favor of Spinning®.  But a recent trip out of town lead her to substituting her usual indoor cycling class for running, for convenience sake.

Fortunately she didn't experience any problems while doing this, but fast forward 4 days and one Spinning® class later and she was having IT band pain.  Then she offered the additional information that the Spinning class she had taken just the day prior to the pain included a segment of 2-count jumps, a.k.a. popcorn jumps.
So was the pain the running or popcorn jumps?  

Now as a matter of habit I never cue popcorn jumps, and in theory there is nothing wrong with them; in theory.  I'm not going to get into the moralistic issue that some groups have that if you don't do it on a real bike you shouldn't do it in a Spinning® class.

The reality is jumps in general need to be approached as a movement with potential safety concerns.  Here's the concern, you're on a fixed gear bike and by definition nothing on the bike is going to give.  If you were to do jumps on a real bike and your rhythm was a bit off then the bike will "coast", if even for a bit.  However on a fixed gear bike that energy is simply transferred to the rider potentially causing the leg to be pushed forward, and working the hip flexor.  This is a concern with ALL jumps not just the dreaded popcorn jumps.

Now we come to my hypothetical class.  It's been a tough Interval Energy Zone ride, rocking out to the Black Eyed Peas and Flo Rida.  You and your class participants are tired, but for that last push you've cued up a segment of 2-count jumps to Pitbull's Krazy.  Everyone is going to leave your studio absolutely drenched and exhausted; be careful not to slip in the puddle of your neighbors sweat as you head to the bathroom to puke.  Yeah, you are the toughest Spinning® instructor around!  Cue the 2-count jumps.

"Yeah, you are the toughest Spinning® instructor around!"
In that sweat flinging fury which is the 2-count jump, with everyone trying to keep up with you, someone misses a beat, their foot slips, their hand slips, you don't know what.  Maybe it was something subtle and went unnoticed; the thing is it happened. Someones form was compromised; Someone was injured as the result of your instructions.  It was your job to make sure that everyone in your class was setup properly, got a good workout and did it safely so that they could come back again tomorrow; but it was your instruction that did them in.

BEST PRACTICE SUGGESTION:
Coach the form of the jump and allow your participants to pick their own pace.
If the pace your participant selects is a 2-count great, but warn them of the dangers of the bike, that it's okay to jump at a pace different than yours, that they may not feel as good as you today so don't sacrifice form for speed.

I would also recommend you make yourself aware of the mechanics of the pedal stroke and remember that you're supposed to be the expert.  Just because you spent $300, spent a day in a class and passed some online test, you aren't the expert and you sure haven't learned everything yet.

Parting thought:
Don't think just because your participants say that you're tough, or "...that was a tough class." that everything is fine.  The difference between working out and training is knowing what you're doing.  Are you imparting that knowledge to your participants or are you simply a cheerleader in a Suzy Psycho-spin class.

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