The Instructor's Guide to Choreographing Your Indoor Cycling Classes

The Instructor's Guide to Choreographing Your Indoor Cycling Classes

I love choreographing drills.

In fact, I love it so much, I have created 4 ebooks full of choreographed cycling drills (don't worry, there are lots of timer drills too!). 

Now, a lot of people think choreographed drills do not belong in a cycling class, but I am here to say they absolutely do. 

They way I see it, group fitness is set to music, no different than a step aerobics class. You use the music to guide the workout and the same can be done with indoor cycling.

This doesn't mean I am saying perform a dance routine with sexy hips on a bike, what I am saying is, you can choreograph a song to match a drill while keeping a class safe and using the fundamentals of indoor cycling.


Let me explain because I know there is still controversy between the outdoor riders and the group fitness cycling instructor. When I see nonsense like this in the video below, it gives choreographed drills on the bike a bad rap. 

This is not what I mean when is say I "choreograph" drills. I would never put something like this in my class.

Our job as fitness professionals is to constantly evaluate and reevaluate good form techniques and to keep our riders safe. 

Another choreographed move that deserves it's bad rap in my opinion is the "Tap Back". Even in this what is supposed to look like an "educational" video on how to do a tap back, anyone can see why this would be a move that serves no function, especially for new riders. Just because this move is set to music and choreographed, it does not make it safe. 


First, let's take a moment to review the definition for choreography in group fitness. Choreography is defined as exercise to music by using the 32, 16, 8 and 4 count to create "patterns" in step/aerobics or "drills" as it is known in cycling.

If you take a look at any song from group fitness music to your latest hit on the radio and have a listen, you will begin to hear the "top of the phrase" or the 32 count. Over time and as you become better at hearing the music, you will be able to find the 16, 8, and 4 count. 

What about the 2-count? The 2-count is too quick to keep the form functional so I preferably stay away from it, but again, that's my own view. This is why I prefer to stay far away from tap backs.

You can also break down the choreography in a song by using the verse and the chorus. Take a song like "Cake by the Ocean" by DNCE, there are slower parts in the song and faster parts in the song.

In my latest ebook "Pump Up Your Ride Volume 3", I have broken down this song and I am going to share it with you below how I choose to choreograph the song using a Seated and Standing Position on the bike.


Work with the known and functional bike positions:

  • Seated Climb
  • Standing Climb
  • Seated Flat
  • Standing Flat
  • Jumps
  • Power Climbs (Seated and Standing)

If you noticed, I did not list "push ups" or "dips" because I personally prefer to stay away from those moves and I do not find they serve a purpose (and I will simply leave that argument there).

Step 1:

Listen to the song several times and start with noting changes in the song. What parts of the song would match one of the above positions and what cadence and tension would you use? 

Step 2:

You can use the chorus, the hook and verses to add the changes in the positions, speed, and tension on the bike or use you use the counts or beats in the song if you are good with hearing music (practices makes perfect).


Here is my drill to share with you as a visual at how I break down the "Cake by the Ocean" song by DNCE. Remember - there are lots of ways to add variation to the drills. 


There is absolutely a place in indoor cycling for choreographed drills. It adds variety to the classes and for you as an instructor. Combining timer drills, interactive drills, and choreographed drills makes for a dynamic and engaging class and anyone can create them, they simply take a little effort.

To get you started, check out all the drills in my ebooks. We have 4 ebooks available and my goals this year is to get to ten. I love choreographing drills and my riders have always loved my drills.

Remember to keep your drills safe. Let's avoid the sexy mambo on a bike and use the music to drive the drills and PUMP Up that MUSIC!

Happy Teaching!

Rachel Seay

Schwinn & BCRPA Certified Group Fitness and Cycling Leader since 1999

Check out our MEGA BUNDLE! 121 Indoor Cycling Drills! ON SALE NOW!

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