What application does Pilates have for cycling and spinning work?
If you are an advocate of Pilates exercise, you may already know how beneficial Pilates can be as a cross-training tool. The exercises increase core strength and stability and provides overall flexibility. As a cyclist, having better core strength and stability can lead to improved performance on the bike. If your core is stable, your body can devote most of its energy and power into your legs. Additionally, if your flexibility improves, your risk of injury is lower, and your body can recruit the proper muscle groups more efficiently.
This being said, as a cyclist and Spin instructor, the biggest change for me was how I approached my posture on the bike. When I first started serious training in cycling, I never thought about how my body was positioned on the bike. I was merely concerned about being able to “power” up hills and “sprint” past my opponents. Even during Spin class, posture and alignment never entered my mind. I simply moved from point A to point B without consciousness. Pilates taught me to align before I moved and to move consciously with new body awareness.
With this new awareness, I began to assess my posture while on the stationary bike in Spin class. Most of us forget about proper posture and alignment during our daily living. We slouch, hunch our shoulders and reach our heads forward while driving our cars. We carry many of these same bad body mechanics over into our workouts. Look around your next Spin class, and you will see these body patterns begin to appear, especially as the participant begins to fatigue. In a Pilates class, alignment is crucial to the proper execution of the exercises. Joseph Pilates believed that “the mind moves the body,” and therefore, all Pilates exercise begins with proper alignment before movement. I realize that in a Spin class, there may be times where you fall out of alignment, but that happens in a Pilates class as well. What is most important is that we give our participants the tools to create that awareness, so even if they fall out of alignment, they know how to get bring themselves back.
Below is a list of a few Pilates principles that you can carry over into your Spin class. Beginning the alignment from the feet and ending with the head, you should cue your participants to check their alignment often, especially when they are in standing positions or working hard in the seated position.
Make sure to press through the big toe and ball of the foot as you pedal. Keep the knee and second toe aligned.
- Sit with your sit bones evenly placed on the saddle, and maintain this position while pedaling in a seated position.
- Draw your ribcage in line with your pelvis and engage your abdominal muscles.
- In hand positions 1 and 2, make sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears and down your back.
- Reach long through the crown of your head.
These cues are a first step to incorporating some of the Pilates principles with your Spinning program. The more you learn about Pilates exercise, the more you will see how the exercises can be used to help condition the body for many types of sports and activities.