In The Gym with Lena

FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers (i.e. your name, occupation, hobbies, etc.). 

Hi, my name is Lena and I am a former couch potato who is now a Spinning® and TRX® instructor and a fitness enthusiast.


FFFC:  What is the name of your blog(s)?

I blog over at Lean Lena.

FFFC:  What can readers expect to see on your blog? 

My blog started as a personal fitness journal – I wrote about healthy food and recipes, my exercise regimen and weight loss. As my fitness journey progressed and I became a fitness professional, I write more about fitness now than anything else. You will see Spinning®/Indoor Cycling class profiles and playlists posted on my blog, advice for new instructors, tips for teaching TRX® as well as the weekly Tasty Tuesday linkup party posts with healthy recipes and nutrition advice. If I had to describe my blog in just a few words, it would be “Eat. Bike. Repeat” J

FFFC:  How did you get started Spinning®?

It was back in the beginning of my personal fitness journey. I started with attending yoga classes at my local YMCA and one of the regulars in that class told me I had to try indoor cycling. So I did and I was hooked right from the start! I absolutely loved the atmosphere in class – the music, the team spirit, the hard work. All of it.

FFFC:  Where do you teach and was it hard to get started there?

I teach at the Carlisle Family YMCA in PA. It is that very facility where I started my personal fitness journey back in the day. So, to answer the second part of your question – getting started there was easy and hard at the same time. It was easy because I knew the people who came to my classes – those were my friends that I as a newbie instructor started teaching one day. But it was hard for the same reason – it was challenging to get on to the instructor bike and teach them after riding alongside them for so long. Other than that issue (which I understand now was all in my head J ) I was extremely lucky – I have a dream boss who gave me a chance to start my career there (even though I had “zero” experience) and supported me along the way, an awesome mentor who was and still is always there for me, and a great team of instructors who I learn from every time I attend their class.

FFFC:  How do you balance making time to get in your workouts in between teaching Spinning®/Indoor Cycling classes?

It is difficult, and I still struggle with that. I teach 2 TRX® classes and anywhere from one to three indoor cycling classes a week, plus I have a full time job. It’s hard to get my own workouts in with that busy schedule. I try and workout before or after teaching (since I’m at the gym anyway), do more on the weekend. On days I absolutely can’t carve out time for my own workout, I try to stay extra active – walk more, do some house chores I’ve been putting off, etc.. In my fitness journey I realized one thing – it is important to do what you can when you can. Even if you have just 15 minutes a day with that TRX® Trainer over your bedroom door – take it! It all counts and adds up.

Lean Lena

FFFC:  What do you like most and least about Indoor Cycling/Spinning®?

I love that a Spinning®/Indoor Cycling class is a place where everybody is welcome regardless of their fitness level and/or age group. You will see experienced road cyclists, athletes and fitness enthusiasts in those classes. It is a workout where you control the intensity and make it as hard or as easy as you want it, and your only competition is yourself.

As for things I like the least, I don’t think I have any to name. To me it’s perfect J

FFFC:  What tips do you have for someone trying Spinning®/Indoor Cycling for the first time?

Show up early and ask the instructor to help you with bike set up – it is very important to have that done right from the start. Write down your bike settings so you can refer to them and set up the bike yourself for the next class.

Honor your body where it is today. Don’t push it to the point of pain. Riding out of your comfort zone is ok, riding with pain is not.

I am a strong believer in a simple rule when it comes to indoor cycling/Spinning® – if you can’t do it on a real bike, don’t do in on an indoor cycle. 100% of the time it is either unsafe or useless. I wrote a post a while ago for new riders about what to be on the lookout for as a participant in indoor cycling class. You can read it here.

Don’t be intimidated; don’t feel like everyone’s watching.  Trust me, people don’t care what you do or look like on that bike. All they care about is their own workout. Just relax and enjoy it.

If you don’t like it after the first class – give it another chance. It takes a few classes to get used to the terminology, new workout movements, etc..

FFFC: What suggestions do you have for someone who would like to become a Spinning®/ Indoor cycling instructor?

Do your research before getting certified. There are a lot of options out there these days. Trust your education and certification to professionals. I would also recommend going for a certification where you need to appear in person vs. doing an online only study and certification. Trust me, the experience you gain in that one day with a Master Instructor in person is priceless.

I would also suggest checking out my New Instructor Tips page on my blog – it has my instructor journey documented from Day1, and has a lot of resources new instructors will find useful!

FFFC:  What would you say is the biggest misconception about Indoor Cycling/Spinning® class and being an Indoor Cycling/Spinning® instructor?

I would say one of the major misconceptions about indoor cycling in general is that you need to get fit before you can participate. While you certainly should consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, there is no need to be intimidated by indoor cycling/Spinning®. As long as you follow the instructions and safety guidelines you will receive the benefits indoor cycling has to offer regardless of your current fitness level.

Another big one that concerns both participants and instructors is that the routines your instructor has you do in class are random and you can kind of do your own thing and not follow your instructor’s cues. While unfortunately you will see instructors out there teaching random routines with no prior planning behind them, most of the time a class profile and playlist are carefully planned and there is a purpose to them. It is ok to adjust the intensity depending on how you feel that day or what your current fitness level is, but it is very important to follow your instructor’s guidance.

FFFC:  What music is in your playlist right now?

I just can’t get enough of Fall Out Boy lately. I absolutely LOVE the energy their music brings to my classes and my personal workouts!

I also have a page on my blog where I keep all my class playlists, and another one with cycling class profiles.

FFFC:  How can our readers find you on the web or inquire about your services?

You can find me on social media and on my blog:

Blog: Lean Lena







7 Replies to "In The Gym with Lena"

  • comment-avatar
    February 5, 2015 (7:31 am)

    Nice choice! I love to read about Lena’s classes and teaching style on her blog. Teaching is really rewarding. She teaches a lot of classes each week which requires a ton of prep.

  • comment-avatar
    February 5, 2015 (6:50 pm)

    I love this! I’ve actually been working on becoming a spin instructor myself, so I loved all the tips. I ended up randomly filling in when an instructor was sick a month ago for practice and it was hard and easy at the same time teaching a group that I usually just ride along with.

  • comment-avatar
    February 5, 2015 (10:27 pm)

    The only time I take spinning is when I’m injured. I find the class and bike set-up a little intimidating. Plus, just when I start to get comfortable with the classes – and my butt stops hurting – I usually feel healed enough to go back to aerobics. I enjoyed your tips.

  • comment-avatar
    Lean Lena
    February 6, 2015 (11:34 am)

    Tricia, so glad you found it useful! Wish you the best of luck with your certification and exciting journey as a Spinning (R) instructor!

  • comment-avatar
    Lean Lena
    February 6, 2015 (11:36 am)

    Thank you so much for this interview, Diatta! I really enjoyed it and I appreciate the opportunity to be featured on your blog 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Jennifer February 7, 2015 (7:07 pm)

    Great interview! I’m obsessed with TRX classes. I took up spinning in the last year or so & I had to try a few studios before I landed on an instructor/class that I really like.

  • comment-avatar
    Leslie February 8, 2015 (1:07 am)

    Thank you for such great tips

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