May is Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). According to Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute: “After the year of COVID-19 in 2020…gaining a greater understanding of the mental conditions that individuals are struggling with now has even more significance.” In honor of MHAM, we want to support those who may be struggling right now.
One way we can offer our support is to discuss the ways in which Spinning® can function as a tool to ease mental health challenges by activating both the body and the mind. Research has demonstrated the positive effects of mind-body therapies on mental health “to decrease anxiety, depression, rumination, and emotional reactivity and increase well-being, positive affect, and concentration.” 
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we offer this post to support you. Whether you are a teacher or student – thriving or struggling – we wish the best for you both on and off the bike. Here’s to your well-being!
The Power of Mind-Body Training in Spinning®
One of the fundamental components of the Spinning® program is the use of mind-body techniques to enhance performance. But what does that mean? And how do you apply these principles in your classes?
Mind-body training integrates physical awareness by use of mental images. As the body follows these mental images, the participant becomes more aware of their physical performance and interconnectivity of their body. Through this enhanced awareness, the participant is able to perform more efficiently and reach desired goals sooner.
When you formulate a mind-body class, it is important that the imagery is based on the physical form rather than the trees on the side of the road or the clouds in the sky. Mind-body training is about integrating mental self-images.
Try the following exercises during your own personal training sessions:
Close your eyes and concentrate on your physical performance. Be acutely aware of the space you occupy as you visualize your toes, legs, hips, spine, neck shoulders, arms, hands, facial muscles, as well as your breath. As you explore your physical movement, connect with your breathing and release all unnecessary tension out of your muscles. Discover the increased focus you develop with this technique and how it connects the mind with the body. Visualize yourself performing, relaxed and powerful. Practice this technique on your own to better enable you to implement mind-body training in your class structure.
When introducing the mind-body connection in class, capture your students’ attention from the start by using breathing and relaxation techniques. A “noisy” head will not be able to create the focus needed to make the connection.
At the start of class, ask your students to stop pedaling and take some deep, relaxing breaths. As you begin riding, coach them through guided physical imagery and breathing techniques. Although guided imagery is best done with the eyes closed, a strong focal point somewhere in the room – perhaps a candle or spot on the floor – can also be used. Your music should produce an environment to assist with inner focus (New Age or World music) rather than entertainment (Top 40 or Rock & Roll).
Be aware that mind-body training takes time and patience. At first, the mind is distracted and focusing is frustrating. Encourage your students to focus a little longer each time they train. Before you know it, your class will be able to find the connection quickly.
some mind-body online courses you can also explore….
Mental Training: Mastery of the mind leads to a more peaceful, productive and creative way of living. This course guides you in your own personal quest for peak performance and health through the use of mental training techniques that can be applied to your Spinning classes. Open your wings and believe in the power of your mind!
Breathing Techniques: Learn how to channel one of the most important functions of your body into creating more efficiency in your workout! Use the concepts in this class to teach your clients proper breathing techniques to enhance performance and reduce exercise stress.