Is there a right way and a wrong way to place bikes in a cycling studio? Of course not, but there are benefits that can go unseen if you are simply following what everyone else is doing.
Traditionally, cycling studios have their bike formations in rows, often cramming as many bikes in one studio as possible - which makes sense if your priority is increasing revenue.
From a financial perspective, you can fit quite a few bikes into a space of only 1000 - 1500 square feet. However, from a teaching or coaching perspective, does this jeopardize your rider's safety? It's something worth discussing as our focus should be on safety.
In my personal opinion as a cycling instructor for the past 20 years, my sole priority is the rider's safety and enjoyment of their class experience, which leads me to this ...if my priority is to keep my rider's in class safe, how can I achieve this when I cannot see their beautiful sweaty faces or watch their riding positions throughout class?
The answer is simple - I cannot keep them safe if I cannot see them. This is why it is challenging as a coach to teach a class and keep your rider's safety as a priority in the rows formation.
But does that make it "wrong"? Not necessarily, it simply means as a coach, you need to ask yourself, what is your priority? For some, the rows feel like a "real" cycling studio, but what about your rider's experience? Do you enjoy having someone's rear end as their view point? I know I don't.
I have been to so many different cycling studios in my time from the big one to the little guys and I personally could not stand the formation in rows (but again, it's a personal experience, some may love it!).
If your riders are so crammed into their workout space, what kind of workout environment does that create? Not to mention if they are on the heavier side or a larger person - you could be making someone feel uncomfortable without even being aware of it.
It's also important to note that stretching on the bike is unsafe for many reasons, so do you provide enough space for your riders to properly stretch off their bike after their workout is completed?
A simple solution to the rows formation and space is to stagger the bikes within the rows so everyone is in the coach's direct line of sight. This also spaces out the rows but allows you to keep that cycle studio feeling and save on space.
Another option is to teach with the bikes in a circle. This has been my preferred style for 20 years. The picture above is from my own studio. We have a multi-purpose studio and it would be easy to set up in rows, but my riders only enjoy the circle and here are some reasons why...
Benefits to a Circle Formation...
1. The instructor can see their riders at all times for safety purposes.
2. The instructor can use eye contact and smile at each person throughout class which leads to a positive and welcoming environment.
3. The riders can engage in each other throughout the ride.
4. The instructor can view their form throughout the ride (even in a low-lit studio).
5. Instructors can easily play interactive drills in this format which brings fun energy to any cycling studio.
Final Thoughts ...
The way bikes are placed in a studio does have an impact, not only on the rider's safety, but also their experience. It is also beneficial for the instructors experience too.
Now I know, it's not always easy to create change in a studio you teach at, but if offered the chance to try teaching in a staggered row formation or a circle formation, it's worth a try. You never know, your riders may just love it and you may too!
Teaching Tip: If you are looking to have a little more "community" engagement in your classes, have your rider's introduce themselves to their neighbours and high five after a couple drills.