Molly McCarthy is native to the DC area and a veteran to the indoor cycling arena, as well as the road. She began teaching cycling in Northern California and now the DC area for combined total of over 15 years. Molly holds Schwinn and Spinning certifications, and is also a member of the US Cycling Association and the USA Triathlon. Molly enjoys a few triathlons every year with her husband and friends, and is excited to eventually enter a triathlon with her two sons.
How did you become an indoor cycling instructor?:
I was inspired by an Olympic athlete who taught the first spinning class I attended in Palo Alto, CA in 1997. A sports enthusiast, I was encouraged to hang up my cleats and take my talent to the bike. "You only live once" attitude prompted me to get out of her comfort zone with the help of a few great coaches and start in the "spinning" world.
What do you see as the biggest fitness benefits of indoor cycling?:
I believe that indoor cycling has both physical cardio and strength benefits, as well as benefits for the mind such as stress reduction and greater focus/productivity. I also believe in the strength of working out in a group/team setting regardless if the riders are novices or seasoned.
What are the essential elements of a good indoor cycling class?:
For me, the essential elements of a good indoor cycling class include a spirited crowd and a stellar playlist. The music sets a lot of the mood will impact the riders' energy. Also, an instructor's coaching and cues are critical during the ride, and should be motivating and specific. I feel that communication at the very beginning of class will set the tone, and needs to contain an overview of what the rider should expect over the course of the ride [ie intervals, hills, jumps, etc].
How do you curate playlists for class? Share one with us!:
I spend time each week developing playlists that will offer a variety in music, and is relevant to the specific intervals, hills or drills that she coaches. The beat of the music and riding to a similar RPM (revolutions per minute) makes the experience smooth and seamless. My background in piano serves me well when coaching the riders to the music regardless if they are on a hill or an interval spring. I also believe in a balance of genres as well staying relevant--but not afraid to dip back a few decades into AC/DC's Thunderstruck! I pride myself in never repeating a playlist.
What is the biggest mistake you see cyclers make in class?:
Because I have spent a lot of time indoor cycling, I have seen a lot of interesting behavior over my tenure. If I could pinpoint the biggest mistake riders make in class, it would be either checking a smartphones or pedaling too fast (the worst mistake would be pedaling >120 RPMs while simultaneously checking a smartphone!). Seriously, I recommend leaving the phones at the door as they distract from what you are trying to escape and you deserve the time on your bike. And pedaling above 120 RPMs will not add value to your workout -- a combination of resistance and your speed is key.
Please offer advice for someone considering indoor cycling as a form of exercise. Any first class tips?:
My advice to anyone considering an indoor cycling class is definitely get on the bike and "to go for it because you won't know unless you try it!" I think it is important to try out a few different instructors and types of classes, and find what works best. I also say to be sure to get to the class about 10 minutes early, and tell the instructor you are new and need help setting up the bike. I always encourage riders to stay for the entire class, even you modify the workout or need to sit in the saddle the entire time.
Do you have an essential article of indoor cycling-related gear? What is it?:
Where/when can folks come take a class with you?:
I will be teaching this Winter at I-Fit Indoor Cycling at Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Maryland. The program is an 11-week training every Saturday starting January 2 to March 12th from 7AM-9AM. The class is geared towards athletes and triathletes looking for fun and hard work on their own bikes and trainers. For more information or to register, visit http://www.getifit.com/#!i-fit-cycling/yx2md