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Spin Class Ideas: Using Visualization as Fitness Motivation

Group X Instructors Discussing Spin Class Ideas

You might have the perfect spin class ideas or playlist planned, but sometimes you put on your Group X mic, get in front of the class and realize you’ve lost your participants’ attention. That’s especially important in a spin class — you need to provide fitness motivation for your participants or else you’ll lose everyone’s attention and, ultimately, their work effort.

One of my favorite techniques to inspire my Group X class is visualization. Help your participants create mental images in their head to boost their confidence and encourage effort. These images can be anything you want them to be, as long as they’re relevant to your participants and easy to follow. You can also have everyone close their eyes, if you’d like.

Here are three tried-and-true visualization story lines:

The mountain of doom

I kid, I kid. I don’t really call it the mountain of doom, but it sounds cool, right? My participants are usually pretty focused during shorter, quick-paced intervals. But, when it comes to longer intervals or slower leg speeds, they don’t need to focus so much on moving their feet, so their mind starts to wander.

As soon as we start a segment like this, I begin to describe a looming mountain (or hill) in the distance that we’re preparing to climb. It goes something like this:

Picture yourself in a forest at sunset. It’s just you, your bike and nature. You look up ahead and see the sun setting just over the peak of a towering mountain. My friends, we’re going to climb to the top in this next song. Let’s make it to the top before sun sets and it’s too dark to see. What do you need to do to make it?

As soon as the song (or segment) ends, you can move on and never reference the mountain again. Or, you can circle back to the same mountain, by pointing out another peak or sprinting downhill.

The pack of riders

This one is pretty popular in spin classes, since many instructors will try to mimic an outdoor ride. And I think this technique is here to stay, because classes really seem to enjoy this one.

You’ll want to start by describing the scene. Pick the number of riders you’ll be riding with and the landscape. Then, explain the situation. You can use the pack of riders for intervals (working hard to overcome the rider ahead of you) or endurance (trying to keep up with a pack that’s a little too fast for you), among other scenarios.

Here’s a sample of an interval visualization:

You’re on a flat road at the back of a pack of four riders and you want to pass them up one by one. So, we’re going to do an interval for 30 seconds where you go as hard as you can without going breathless — you don’t want them to see you “sweat”. From there, we’ll take a 20 second break and do it again. On the last interval (#4), you can go breathless.

Your special someone

In this situation, you have your participants picture someone else, whether it’s a friend, family member or someone else important to them. Then, you explain that for this next song, we’re riding for that person.

You can do a lot of different things with it. I’ve done an interval drill, where with each interval we thought of a different person that could use our positive energy. You can also use this technique for longer segments with greater resistance.

Here’s an example:

I want you to think of someone else that you want to ride for during this next song. It might be someone that couldn’t make it today or just a friend that really needs some good vibes today. Now, you two are riding on a tandem bike and you’re at the bottom of a hill. You know that in order to make it up this hill you’re going to have to do the work. Help your friend make it up the hill.

These visualization story lines are great ways to mix things up and give your Group X class a little extra fitness motivation. Above all, you have to say what feels genuine and right for you. Take one of the spin class ideas above, add your own flair to it, and give it a try next week. As long as it comes from the heart, your participants will love it.

For more Group X and spin class ideas, check out the fitness motivation and cueing page.