Cycle Burn

“Feel the burn!” We’ve all heard that one … and felt it too. And, although the term “cycle burn” might sound a little scary, it’s one of the hottest classes at MCCS Okinawa’s fitness centers.

More commonly referred to as spinning, cycle burn is a clever name for this stationary bike ride inside. It is a nice alternative to an aerobics class that offers a unique twist … resistance.

Back in the Saddle

What makes cycle burn classes different is the ability of the participant to adjust the resistance or tension at any point during the class. How much resistance a participant uses is a secret between the rider and the bike. No one needs to know that he or she is toggling between a beginner and advanced workout. Instead, the entire session is based around the rider’s own aerobic capacity. A simple turn of a small, discreet dial increases or decreases resistance and, at the same time, takes away the fear most spinning class novices have of looking silly in front of more fit or advanced riders.

At MCCS, we find using the term “cycle burn” instead of the more traditional “spinning” gives the class a marketing edge with our patrons. It sounds like the class will burn calories, which is, of course, the main goal of our members, and it does not sound as threatening as the term “spinning,” which is usually portrayed by ultra-fast cycling that is only for the fittest.

As silly as it sounds, I believe this term is responsible in large part for the recent success of our classes.

How To Get Started

The most important component of a successful cycle burn program is the equipment itself. Comfortable bikes are essential. Finding out what equipment is going to suit the needs of your fitness center should be the first priority. Here are some cost-effective ideas to get you going:

If you have some wiggle room in your budget, purchase new bikes that will accommodate the size of your group (usually 10-12 riders/bikes).

If your funds are limited or you are unsure about interest in the program, search the local newspaper. People are getting rid of perfectly good fitness equipment all the time. Often, these bikes are not commercial grade, but they can at least get you started at a minimal cost.

Get an instructor! The most cost-effective way is to get your current staff knowledgeable about cycling. A certified aerobics instructor can teach it; however, since there are certain nuances that must be learned, it is good to consider finding some training for that instructor (safety and health concerns are slightly different than with regular aerobic routines).

Begin advertising that your fitness center is considering such a class. Get your patrons interested by posting information on your Web site and/or within the fitness center. Try something like “Love biking? Ready to try it inside? Ask one of our fitness specialists how.” This will help you get an idea of interested members.

Push the Time Frame Advantage--A lot of patrons are concerned about their time. Cycle burn is only a 45-minute class, allowing them to get back to their busy schedules.

Keep classes small. A class of 10-12 is recommended due to the intensity and necessary focus of the class.

Cycle Burn Programming Ideas

Cycle burn programs are a nice break from normal cardio routine and, while each teacher does something a little differently, here are some interesting ones we’ve learned:

Circle Class--This class has the bikes laid out in a circle so everyone faces each other and no one can see anyone’s tension setting. This is especially good for beginners.

School Setting--This class staggers the bikes in the room, much like a traditional school classroom, and the instructor’s bike faces the students. This is a difficult setting, but can be used if your space is sufficient.

Black Light With Hard-Core Cycling Music--This class uses a black light to light up the instructor’s teeth when he or she shouts, “Turn up that tension!” It’s a great way to increase intensity and is most certainly for advanced students.

In the end, cycling is great, and with the right music and motivational teacher, it can be an outstanding workout.

For more information about great class ideas, go to

For more information about class designs, go to

Kati Trammel is the advertising and public relations account executive for MCCS Marketing, Semper Fit Retail, Food and Beverage, based in Okinawa, Japan. She can be reached at