Indoor Cycling

So THAT Is How Spin Instructors Get Through All Those Back-to-Back Classes

Ever wonder how Philly spin instructors get through two, three, four classes in a day? We asked.


Photograph courtesy Flywheel.

Welcome to Spin Week at Be Well Philly! Each day, we’ll bring you the best and the latest on info on indoor cycling around Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more great spinning articles!

If you’ve been following our Sweat Diaries series, you are aware that Philly spin instructors teach a lot of classes — oftentimes multiple in a day, sometimes in back-to-back sessions. While the only thing we want after an indoor cycling class is the world’s largest bottle of water and a shower, somehow, these folks get their bodies through three, four, five of the intensely sweaty, intensely hard workouts in a 24-hour period.

So we had to ask: What’s the secret? Are they just in way, way better shape than the rest of us, or do we have a Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt situation going on here?

We polled a few of Philly’s top spin instructors, and their answers varied a bit. Interestingly, two of the SoulCycle instructors we asked — Ryan Lewis (yep, the one teaching 19 classes a week) and Nick Turk both said they really pour themselves into each class — they’re not taking it easy on themselves, even on days they teach multiple times. So how do they survive? Naps. Lots of naps.

“My secret is meditation and naps,” says Turk. “I prefer a nap because it gives my muscles more resting time but if I’m running late, a 15-minute meditation can give me enough energy to push through.”

Lewis says he takes a one-to-two-hour nap every day after his morning classes, which gives him the energy to teach later in the day. If your life looks anything like mine, a SoulCycle class is usually followed by a full work day. If I proceeded it with three SoulCycle classes, I’m pretty sure I’d not only be physically beat, but mentally as well — making writing riveting content like this that much harder. But since teaching classes is these instructors full-time jobs, they can pour themselves into a workout — knowing they’ll have the time to rest their bodies and brains after.

For Susannah Greenwood, who teaches at Flywheel, proper rest before a class is just as important.

“To get through it successfully I need to thoughtfully prepare, meaning I get a solid night’s sleep the night before and I eat something sustainable before (two eggs over toast with side of avocado) and in between classes (typically a half a Perfect Bar or banana),” says Greenwood.

And proper preparation doesn’t just start the night before a double. Remember: These instructors have spent years building up the endurance to get through several hours of sweating.

“I’ve been teaching for over three years now, and prior to that fitness was always a top priority in my life,” says Lewis. “I used to take about six SoulCycle classes a week, and then workout at other fitness boutiques in New York City before teaching.”

While some instructors, like Turk and Lewis, are fans of going full-out to better understand what their riders are going through during class, others realize a need to pause at key points to save their energy. Those times when you’re pedaling your hardest in class, and the instructor gets off her bike to get in your face? That’s a mini-break for her legs — and the secret to preserving her legs for the next class.

“When I was younger and when I first started teaching, I did all three that I had in a day, all out. I kept that up for a few years. Now, I will do one full out, and then the other two on and off of the bike,” says BPM Fitness owner Shoshana Katz.

But Katz says that even when she’s going “full out” as an instructor, it isn’t the same as she’d do while taking a class as a participant. Sure, she gets in a good sweat, but it’s not a full workout. Greenwood follows the same pattern, choosing to pause at some of the most intense moments in class to give her riders 100-percent of her focus.

“This gives riders my full attention, so I can really connect and provide necessary motivation to assist in getting through those super-intense moments,” says Greenwood. “This helps me, in return, because 1) it gives my legs a quick breather while remaining hyper-engaged with my riders and 2) it allows me to step back and see just how hard everyone is working, which motivates me that much more.”

For others, the secret lies in lowering the resistance. Revel Ride instructor Jessica Sullivan says that she has a hard time leaving her bike to walk around the room during class as she likes leading by example. But when she’s teaching back-to-back sessions, she’ll lower the resistance during the first class, then “bring it 100 percent the second.”

So what’s the secret to getting through multiple classes in a day? Rest. Whether it’s mid-class pauses to rest their legs or post-class naps to shut down completely for a couple of hours, these instructors are pros at spinning — and at resting their bodies.

While I don’t think I’ll be signing up for back-to-back spin classes anytime soon, more naps is something I can totally get behind. Someone wake me up in hour, deal?

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