About Becky: “Becky Rockey came to DC from Penn State, where, as a freshman, she started the University’s multi-semester Instructor Training Program. Teaching classes of up to 200 people, classes like yoga, interval/circuit training, kickboxing, and indoor cycling, she became addicted to sharing her passion for athletically-inspired group fitness. She now teaches a variety of classes throughout the DC Metro. During the day, she is an economist at Cassidy Turley and is pursuing her Masters in Applied Economics at John Hopkins University.”
Becky was kind enough to answer questions for us in the latest edition of our Featured Fitness Instructor series.
1. How did you become an indoor cycling instructor?
I actually got in to group fitness as a freshman at PSU, when I realized that my passion for sports was going to be limited by other things (like several knee injuries). I spoke with an orthopedist and was basically told that I will eventually need to give up running, pretty much entirely, which meant no more hockey long-term (except that I played on the club team at PSU and still play with DC’s Association team, though not currently). Indoor cycling was one of the few cardio workouts that could replicate the “runner’s high” for me, so I was immediately drawn to it. The intensity of it was energizing and I loved that I could choose the music, that I could design and layout the ride. I’ve now been teaching a total of almost 9 years—the last 2 at Revolve!
2. What do you see as the biggest fitness benefits of indoor cycling?
To me, the cardio-respiratory benefits are the most obvious, as a well-planned ride will the take the heart rate through a variety of zones—in a continuous or interval-based workout. That will help to lower risks associated with heart disease, it will help to lower blood pressure, etc. Aside from that, the ability to add resistance into your workout in a controlled way is huge—benefits include increasing muscular endurance as well as strengthening neighboring bones, ligaments, and tendons. Add to that a high-calorie burn that is low-impact and tons of endorphins…it’s awesome!
3. What are the essential elements of a good indoor cycling class?
First is the environment—the music and instruction can make or break a class. If you lose people because they can’t get into your music, you’ve sabotaged their workout. Sure, not everyone will like every song—but overall, if a rider wants to tune the music out, he/she probably also wants to tune the instructor out…even if the instructor is amazing! Plus, I find riders work hardest when they can internalize the music and use it as motivation. Second, you want to have someone teaching who is certified in indoor cycling by a reputable certifying agency (yawn, I know). But there are a few major differences from outdoor riding, so it’s important to know what those are and why they exist.
4. How do you curate playlists for class? Share one with us!
It actually takes a while to make a playlist for class. I start with picking out the songs, which can be a fast or slow process, but it usually takes hours to pick out a variety of songs (originals, mash-ups, remixes, etc.). But then, I have to know the BPM/RPM of each song to get a feel for what drills would be appropriate, and then I need to place them in a sequence that makes sense to riders (and me). In total, one ride can take up to 3 hours to plan. Here’s a ride from this summer!
Faith by George Michael (Aeroplane Remix—VM Full Edit)
Summer by Calvin Harris (Diplo & Grandtheft Remix)
Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz (TJR Remix)
Boys Around Here/Teach Me How to Dougie Mash-up by DJ Griffie
Little Lion Man by DJ Energy
Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye (Kygo Remix)
Buy You A Drank by Andrew Luce
Comfortable Remix by Solidisco
Team by Lorde (DJ Kraken Remix)
The Fox Dubstep by Underwater Robots
Jolene is Mine by Dolly Parton ft. Jay-Z (KMT Remix)
Nessun Dorma, East Village Opera Company
5. What is the biggest mistake you see cyclers make in class?
I have what I think is a surprising answer to this. I rarely see people with technically “too little” resistance—I read that a lot in articles these days, but I think it’s more nuanced (I watch for bouncing hips to get a read on whether there is enough on). But the biggest (or most serious, in my opinion) offender I see is too little or too much resistance during drills. Some people don’t add enough resistance during an interval or hill and so they never quite reach the intensity level I was really asking them for as their feet don’t have enough resistance to push against! But, then there are riders who add too much and (although they may think the higher resistance makes them tougher) they suffer from the same problem: they don’t reach the intensity levels that others are reaching who find a medium between the two. Form issues are quick fixes since they’re easier to spot, so I spend more time describing what you should be feeling intensity-wise!
6. Please offer advice for someone considering indoor cycling as a form of exercise. Any first class tips?
Go early, introduce yourself, and get set up properly. Seems simple because it is! If you have any condition (pregnancy, injuries, etc.), let the instructor know so they can personally guide you through a safe and effective workout—it really does help when we know and we love meeting newbies! At Revolve, we will set up you according to Schwinn Performance standards. Other than that, know that every instructor has a really unique style, so if your first class is not what you consider “the most amazing ever in your life”, don’t just give up! At Revolve, each instructor’s style is really different—find a class that speaks best to you.
7. Do you have an essential article of indoor cycling-related gear? What is it?
My spin shoes and my heart rate monitor. I have SIDI shoes with SPD clips on them. I am also addicted to my Polar monitor, as I know which heart rate speeds I associate with each intensity zone. For example, I know that if I am in the mid- to upper-170s during a peak (max) interval, I know I need to step it up, since that’s in my moderate intensity range. It definitely helps me to personalize my workout and get the most out of it!
8. Where/when can folks come take a class with you?
EVERYONE is welcome to come ride at Revolve! You’ll find me there Wednesday nights (7:30 PM Barre Ride), Thursday mornings (6 AM Real Ride and 7 AM Body Ride) and Saturday mornings (10:30 AM Body Ride). I hope to see some new faces!